June 1 - July 5, 2021
Managing Human Capital
As one who has recently gone through the process of searching for and applying for positions in administration, i.e. assistant principal(AP) positions, I can tell you that the hiring policies and procedures greatly differ among districts. One thing I noticed is that the larger the district, the more formal their hiring process, and the less autonomy principals have. According to a study conducted by Williamson (2011), she discovered that in larger districts, there have been times when “principals were not able to interview or hire candidates they would like for open positions.” Case in point: My former district is a very large district consisting of four high schools, twelve middle schools, and approximately 60 elementaries, as well as one 6-12 charter school. In order to even be considered for an AP position, one has to be accepted into the interview pool-basically a “short list” of applicants who have been vetted by the district-level executive principals and various personnel from the human resources department. Campus principals are highly encouraged to only interview candidates from the list, if district personnel in Human Resources give them that opportunity.
The School Finance Puzzle
Growing up in a small rural town, it was not unusual to see a shotgun or rifle hanging in the back window of someone’s pickup. I never thought twice about one of my classmates bringing a pocket knife to school, since I carried one myself. However, because of shooting events that have occurred across the country and around the world, schools have had to plan accordingly. An active shooter situation a-has become one of many unfortunate realities that schools from pre-k to higher education must have a response plan for, hoping they never need to activate it.
Malcolm and Swearer (2018) asserted that despite the rise in school violence across the country, schools are still “the safest places for America’s children to be at any given time on any given day.” Given that a lot of my students live with active gang members who make them participate in “the family business,” or who live in neighborhoods that experience a lot of gang activity and all the things that one associates with gangs, I agree with their assertion for the most part.
My former school experienced an uptick in weapons, vapes, and drugs on campus this year; however, the number of student-generated tips was up as well. Our administration even established a reward system for students to incentivize them to notify an adult about any illegal items that were brought on campus, as well as the names of students who had them in their possession. Additionally, the protocols and plans that were in place did a good job of keeping our students safe. This uptick is consistent with the report findings regarding increased economic insecurity (Malcolm & Swearer, 2018). Due to the COVID 19 pandemic many households experienced job loss due to illness and extended periods of quarantine, death, and their employers’ inability to keep their businesses open due to the severe loss of revenue.
The safety protocols for my new, smaller district and campus are very similar to the ones put in place by my former large district. I feel a certain level of comfort knowing that, whether a district is big or small, standardized protocols are being used to keep students, faculty, and staff safe. Furthermore, I think, given the nature of small community logistics, I will feel safer in my new district than I did in my former district. One thing our district is wanting to do is to expand the role of the Student Resource Officer (SRO), giving him/her the task of conducting training and exercises with staff and students on a regular basis to help them recognize red flag behaviors, as well as how and when to report them.
One of the equalizing factors for schools large and small, public and private, p-12 and higher education, is the mental and emotional health of our students. Most, if not all, school shooters “exhibit the same signs of increasingly violent and dysfunctional behavior” (Malcolm & Swearer, 2018). An increasing number of school districts are beginning to implement social-emotional learning curriculum and hire full-time behavior specialists on their campuses, which is a great first step. My new district has hired a social worker for this purpose. I am interested to see how her role will evolve and grow this next year, as well as how she will educate our staff as we all learn to properly address the social-emotional needs of our students who have been isolated due to the pandemic.
Malcolm, J., & Swearer, A. (2018, March 19). Focusing on School Safety After Parkland. The Heritage Foundation. https://www.heritage.org/firearms/report/focusing-school-safety-after-parkland.