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> An Open Letter to USAD, Or, Ugh
Guest_fyzics_*
post May 1 2011, 03:35 PM
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Dear USAD,

For all the years I have been coaching, I have run into problems with the way you run your "non-profit" business. Mostly, it has been about the overwhelming number of errors present in your materials, and the glacial speed with which you rectify your mistakes. In fact, my mother, a professional proofreader and copy editor for 40+ years, sent you her resume, but you did not even have the courtesy to acknowlege its receipt, let alone hire her.

So now Granada has won nationals. (A HUGE congratulations to them!) How did I know of their incredible feat? Well, first, my friends called me. Then I went and read about every minute of the webcast on this site. It was all over facebook, including pictures. Oh, and it was the lead story on GHCHS's website, where I went late in the evening to write a congratulatory note to all of them.

But on your site? NOTHING. In fact, the only things marked "New" is that the essay and art (art??) will be April 12th. There is nothing about the events of this weekend.

There is nothing about the topics for next year, although you promised me that those would be posted May 1st, first thing in the morning. It's 8:30 my time, which makes it later for you, out there in the midwest.

Look, I know you're back in the dark ages in a lot of areas, but let me give you a couple of pointers. Number one, you can update a website from anywhere at any time. So there is no excuse for leaving your website languishing.

Number two, and here's the crux of the problem: A lot of us take this competition seriously. I mean, really, really seriously. You know - acadec: it's not just a class, it's an obsession. I know two people who had their babies early because they were determined to see their teams compete at state and it was too much for them physically. I mean, we're crazy about this competition.

So please, from the bottom of my heart, I beg you -- GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER! Give us what we want, and stay more on top of it. I've put up with your crud for years and years now. ENOUGH!!

Sincerely,

Me

wallbash.gif
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Guest_courtney ruehl_*
post May 1 2011, 03:38 PM
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Completely agree with all of this. Well said. Still waiting for the curriculum to be posted and it's 10:38 my time.. gah.
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Guest_Cody_*
post May 1 2011, 03:53 PM
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Would you mind if I posted this on the USAD facebook group?
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stanleytree
post May 1 2011, 04:28 PM
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USAD is a natural monopoly which means they can basically smurf over everyone who depends so much on their materials. They cater to richer districts by charging more if you wish to get the materials early (shouldn't even be a smurfing option). They blatantly never listen to any suggestions of students, coaches, outsiders. They ESPECIALLY hate Demidec and anything to do with it (i.e. anything we write on this board). They have the laziest group of board members ever. They literally do nothing. NOW they're trying to move the entire national competition online, starting with moving art. They're crooked, they're terrible, they're just plain bad.

I know a lot of people would be willing to switch to a VIABLE option, especially a cheaper one. WSC is that option, but right now it's hard for a lot of people to see it as viable. It's picking up steam domestically (Texas hosting its first ever meet this year), and it's HUGE in East Asia (I heard ~6-800 students will be in attendance at the finals), but it's not at the level of prestige Decathlon has and I honestly don't know if it will. I'm going to try my hardest this summer to help expand WSC in America, but it's an uphill battle, especially with how the prestigious the term "Academic Decathlon" is in itself. What really needs to happen is a coup of the USAD board to the point where WE, as in the decathletes, have a controlling interest in it. At that point, we could then either restructure USAD to become a great program itself OR merge with WSC to make it a huge international event with sufficient American interest.

And they're a non-profit?? Last time I remember hearing, they had over $2 million in the coffers.
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Guest_TheWerg_*
post May 1 2011, 05:03 PM
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Non-profit status just means you don't pocket your profits but rather turn them back toward the organization. That's how colleges stay non-profit with multi-billion dollar endowments. If you make sure that your expenditures are high enough, you can rake in revenue. Of course, part of those expenditures can be paying administrators exorbitant salaries, which is what colleges (and likely USAD too) do.

Also, I agree with everything that's been said in this thread so far.

This post has been edited by TheWerg: May 1 2011, 05:06 PM
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Guest_AK_WDB_*
post May 1 2011, 05:15 PM
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I agree that USAD doesn't have their act together to satisfy everyone, including me, who takes the competition they've created seriously. But I mean...they still do it. They're responsible for everything about this competition we all love, and they deserve some appreciation for that.
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Guest_nicksyn_*
post May 1 2011, 07:24 PM
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USAD isn't non-profit, they're not-for-profit. Which means they make profit, but "unintentionally."
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Guest_Bhushan Deshpande_*
post May 1 2011, 07:43 PM
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QUOTE (nicksyn @ May 1 2011, 08:24 PM) *
USAD isn't non-profit, they're not-for-profit. Which means they make profit, but "unintentionally."

Officially, they are categorized as a 501©(3) organization. Other 501©(3) organizations include the Mozilla Foundation (Firefox) and Planned Parenthood. This means that they are exempt from federal taxation (and oftentimes also state taxation). The following things are prohibited by law: "no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office." (emphasis mine).

So USAD can get away with earning profit and even paying themselves exorbitant salaries and still maintain non-profit status if they wish. TheWerg has it right.
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Guest_fyzics_*
post May 1 2011, 08:29 PM
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QUOTE (Cody @ May 1 2011, 08:53 AM) *
Would you mind if I posted this on the USAD facebook group?

I would love that. Thanks.
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Guest_courtney ruehl_*
post May 1 2011, 08:32 PM
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The curriculum still isn't posted. wallbash.gif

My dislike for USAD is growing everytime I refresh the page.
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madcap
post May 1 2011, 08:35 PM
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QUOTE (AK_WDB @ May 1 2011, 11:15 AM) *
I agree that USAD doesn't have their act together to satisfy everyone, including me, who takes the competition they've created seriously. But I mean...they still do it. They're responsible for everything about this competition we all love, and they deserve some appreciation for that.


Yes, I certainly appreciate Dr. Robert Peterson and everybody else who structured Academic Decathlon and brought it to national prominence. But I couldn't agree more with Stanley_Tree and fyzics that the USAD board TODAY does not give the competition the attention it deserves.

http://demidecscores.gilslotd.com/wiki/Nationals/1992: 3,500 points between 1st place and 7th place. 49 states/territories participated and MANY of them took USAD seriously, as seen in Georgia finishing 20th with an impressive 43,225. This was the golden age of USAD, when Peterson and the old board members dedicated their lives to the competition. Just download the History of USAD from http://usad.org/About/History.asp, read it, and you will see why USAD was so much better in the 1990s thanks to the work of the former board members.

http://demidecscores.gilslotd.com/wiki/Nationals/2011: 10,000 points between 1st place and 7th place. A measly 35 states participated. We still haven't seen the scores (come on, USAD!), but if there are as many teams below 30k as last year, that would show a continued lack of interest.

Now, it is 3:30pm in Iowa. Apparently USAD promised they would release the curriculum outlines for next year this morning? I still see nothing. I'm also waiting to find out how my home state, my friends, and my favorite teams did in Nationals and E-Nationals, which took place 2-3 days ago. I still see nothing. Stanley_Tree is right - USAD desperately needs a major reformation to bring this competition the attention, organization, and efficiency it deserves. When USAD's board started ignoring the interests of coaches and decathletes 11 years ago in 2000, many coaches resigned in protest and called for this major reformation. I still see nothing.

This post has been edited by madcap: May 2 2011, 01:56 AM
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Guest_Widget!_*
post May 1 2011, 08:45 PM
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I did E-Nats three years. Three years, we took all of the tests at the exact same time as the Nationals competition. Three times, these tests were taken online--no scantrons to scan, no waiting for that data to be imported, it was all online from the start, on a testing software framework designed to give almost immediate results. And for three years, we had to wait at least a week--in one case, three weeks--just to know who won the competition.

smurf USAD.
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madcap
post May 1 2011, 08:53 PM
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That mix-up for the Rookie of the Year award at nationals (when Texas had to walk back up to the stage and hand their medals to California) was also unacceptable. Whoever set up the awards ceremony clearly does not care enough about their job.
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Guest_JP_Irish_*
post May 1 2011, 08:57 PM
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Why are they getting medals for Rookie Team of the Year, we won that last year and did not get team medals?

Also, why do teams not get team medals for SQ Relay? That's the only event in AD in which all team members contribute to the score. If you're going to give team medals to team members who don't contribute to the team score (overall team and SQ team), why not Relay?

There should be some standardization with regard to awards. In Texas what you get varies from Region to Region and from site to site at the state meet.
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Guest_nicksyn_*
post May 1 2011, 10:13 PM
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QUOTE (Bhushan Deshpande @ May 1 2011, 12:43 PM) *
QUOTE (nicksyn @ May 1 2011, 08:24 PM) *
USAD isn't non-profit, they're not-for-profit. Which means they make profit, but "unintentionally."

Officially, they are categorized as a 501(3) organization. Other 501(3) organizations include the Mozilla Foundation (Firefox) and Planned Parenthood. This means that they are exempt from federal taxation (and oftentimes also state taxation). The following things are prohibited by law: "no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office." (emphasis mine).

So USAD can get away with earning profit and even paying themselves exorbitant salaries and still maintain non-profit status if they wish. TheWerg has it right.

Actually, that's what I meant. I guess I just got the name wrong! Thanks :]
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Guest_J Eberhard_*
post May 1 2011, 10:40 PM
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It's a Sunday, I doubt you'll have any updates on a Sunday... I think our acadec mania is being projected on to usad. wacko.gif
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Guest_courtney ruehl_*
post May 1 2011, 10:45 PM
Post #17





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THE CURRICULUM IS UP!
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Guest_Crow_*
post May 1 2011, 11:50 PM
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Well, seeing as we're practically in open rebellion anyway, I'd really love to see some of the state and local directors kicked up to the national level. Ken Scarberry (I may be spelling his name wrong) of California has an excellent reputation as someone who works bloody hard to keep chaos and stupid decisions to a minimum. There are a lot of people who care about the organization, work incredibly hard, and actually know what they're doing. Unfortunately, due to USAD's policy of only accepting applications written in crayon on the back of gravy-stained place mats, most of them have only minimal input at the national level.

I also think USAD should really drive to recruit both retired coaches and ex-decathletes into their ranks. Anybody remember the debacle where an ex-ECR coach was removed from the Oregon directorship (a very tiny program with lots of possibility for expansion) because USAD smells conspiracy in everything? USAD really, really needs talent like that, but alas... Similarly, I can't think of anyone from the schools I'm familiar with who went on the become involved with even the local level of administration. Some become coaches (and a tip of the hat to them is deserved), but I don't know of anyone who is in a position to actually make even county/regional improvements.

Any time I've heard someone at the upper administration level speak, it's been either an opportunity for brutal, unrelenting self-congratulation or results in some sad little old person unfurling a three foot streamer of drool before being wheeled off the stage. On the extremely off chance that this reaches the eyes of a USAD official (probably with all our pictures and orders to terminate attached), we're not saying these things because we want to steal your glory/funding/nubile young women attracted to your iron-fisted power/whatever, we're just regular (albeit snarky and frustrated) veterans of the program who love it and don't want to see it go into decline. We want a program that reflects our hopes and aspirations as decathletes and coaches to give students the training and skills to succeed. What you're giving us is clunky, unresponsive, and, frankly, unprofessional. Thank you & good day.

Rant mode: deactivated.
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Guest_J Eberhard_*
post May 1 2011, 11:53 PM
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QUOTE (courtney ruehl @ May 1 2011, 05:45 PM) *
THE CURRICULUM IS UP!




only took 5 minutes to prove me wrong facepalm.gif
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Guest_Tad Walters_*
post May 2 2011, 12:20 AM
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QUOTE (madcap @ May 1 2011, 03:53 PM) *
That mix-up for the Rookie of the Year award at nationals (when Texas had to walk back up to the stage and hand their medals to California) was also unacceptable. Whoever set up the awards ceremony clearly does not care enough about their job.



Actually, I'm glad it was us and not some other school that actually was a rookie. We knew there was a problem from the start, as we've been to Nats in 1992, 1996, and 2003. So we knew that there was a mix up, and we didn't mind giving up the plaque they gave us for rookie of the year. We did not get medals so no problem there. A guy just came over and talked to H, got the plaque back, and announced GH as the new winner. It was perfectly fine with us, they deserved it.
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