Duh.

Years ago, with the state in the midst of what was then the latest education crisis, California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown convened a big-deal “Education Summit.” he invited scores of experts from all over the country (off the top of my head, I most remember Marian Wright Edelman and Robert Reich, who was still Clinton’s Labor Secretary) and representatives of every group concerned even the slightest with education: teachers, school boards, unions, private and parochial school administrators, parents, employers, financing experts, even a few cognitive scientists. (I attended as a representative of the HomeSchool Association of California.)

Essentially a giant photo op, there were lots of lights and cameras and reporters, corporate-sponsored lunches and gift bags, and three solid days of talking and talking and talking . . . . But what I remember most is that, among the more than 1,000 people gathered, aside from the student member of the state board of education, and the representatives of the high school student body president association and the college student body president association, there were no other students of any age there–no representatives of the people to whom all this effort and concern was ostensibly aimed.

So nearly two decades later, I can’t say I’m surprised at any surprise at this:

What Works in the Classroom? Ask the Students

Civilization, Then Doom

The December and January NACs will be an interesting pair this season, providing first a cozy, civilized tournament (despite its site in Atlanta’s cavernous Georgia World Congress Center) and then a ridiculously, overwhelmingly huge tournament in Dallas.

For December, we’ve got six individual and four (two were cancelled because they had too few entries) team events, with a grand total of 741 individuals and 43 teams. The tournament will use 32 strips and its longest day is projected to end by 6:00 pm. I suspect Ted’s will see quite a bit of business from fencers and officials.

NAC C in January is another matter altogether: 56 strips. Division I Men’s Epee has, as of yesterday, anyway (because apparently a few people are still willing to pay the double triple late fees allowed until January 3), 327 entries. There are (so far) 3,084 entries over the four days: 629 on Friday, 947 on Saturday, 938 on Sunday, and a comparatively leisurely 570 on Monday. (You can see the event breakdown on the USFA event page.)

Just to put that in perspective, we ran 65 strips at this year’s Summer Nationals; the two largest (and longest!) days at SN had 814 individuals/102 teams and 907 individuals/38 teams each, and both ran until well after midnight.

The only non-late night in Dallas will be Monday, projected to end at 6:15 pm, but that doesn’t count, since it’s also teardown day, and it’ll take another hour or two after the fencing to pack up (that’s for the BC; the armorers will be there even longer). Friday’s not too horrible—the projected end time is only 8:30 pm. Sunday looks like 10:15 pm, and Saturday is projected to end at either 1:30 am or 12:15 am, depending on whether we flight the Cadet Women’s Epee or schedule a delay to be able start all the pools at once. (Shouldn’t be hard to guess which alternative I’ll be going for as BC Chair—I always like to keep our days to no more than 18 hours, if I can.)

The scary part, of course, is that these projections are best-case scenarios. It’s not at all uncommon for events (especially the point weapons) to slip by an hour or two over the course of the day. No matter how much we try to keep things moving, how quickly we get the pools out and DEs turned, sometimes fencers just fence more slowly than we expect.

Last month in Milwaukee we started talking about how to manage this one: extended hours (1-8 pm) for the Thursday gear check at the venue, a two-hour window for the Div I ME check-in and gear check on Saturday morning, and restricting general gear check all weekend until after all that day’s events have checked in. And as usual, pretty much all the saber events will be flighted.

One good thing about this tournament is that it’ll be fresh in my memory when I get to the Tournament Committee meeting the next weekend to discuss options for managing our tournament entry numbers. If anybody wants to know why we need to limit the numbers at NACs, I’ll be able to think of a couple of reasons.