Contemporary Issues

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.

My principal was preparing to interview assistant principal candidates since we were losing two, and he planned to interview me even though I was not accepted into the interview pool. Then, because of some restructuring being done in the district, two APs were simply assigned to our campus. In fact, one of the APs was being assigned to another campus without her consent, so she took a job in another district. Many teachers-including me-followed suit, either taking jobs outside the district or leaving the teaching profession altogether. In my case, I did not want to leave my district, but it became evident that, if I wanted to pursue a career in administration, I had to look outside my district for other opportunities. This scenario is common practice in this district, which can be frustrating at times, especially when a principal is forced to accept a teacher who is being transferred due to inadequate performance.

One way my former principal combatted this situation was to assign mentor teachers to the newly assigned ones. In one instance, the district assigned a social studies teacher to our campus who was on an improvement plan. The principal paired a master teacher with this new teacher, placing this master teacher in one of the new teacher’s classes. This gave the master teacher an opportunity to model lessons and closely observe the new teacher in order to provide valuable feedback and talk through any issues that the new teacher had. The new teacher was then able to use what the master teacher modeled for her in the rest of her classes. Additionally, the principal conducted frequent walkthroughs and met with both teachers together and separately to discuss progress. By the end of the fall semester, the new teacher had gained the skills she needed to continue teaching the class on her own. Although the master teacher was still assigned to the same class for the remainder of the year, the principal allowed her to use that time as an extra conference period several times a week as a reward for mentoring the new teacher.

This “outside-the-box” thinking helped the campus not only gain another good teacher but also facilitate the growth of a great teacher leader. Although the principal did not have a choice but to accept the new teacher, he did a great job of cultivating human capital on his campus by managing his teachers “in ways that support the organization’s strategic direction” (Odden, 2011). As I reflect on this scenario through the lens of a new administrator, I want to take what I learned through observation and put it into effect when a similar situation occurs on my new campus.


Odden, A. (2011). Manage "Human Capital" Strategically. The Phi Delta Kappan, 92(7), 8-12. Retrieved June 11, 2021, from

Williamson, A. L. (2011). Assessing the Core and Dimensional Approaches: Human Resource Management in Public, Private, and Charter Schools. Public Performance & Management Review, 35(2), 251–280.

The School Finance Puzzle

School finance and the equitable distribution of funds has been a hot topic probably almost as long as schools have been around. Every district wants to be able to educate its students to the best of its ability, and educating students costs money. One of the major problems surrounding the funding of schools is that many districts do not get what they need in terms of being able to offer attractive teacher pay and benefits, educational materials, and money for general upkeep of their facilities. Furthermore, most states do not take into account that their high-poverty schools need additional funding to help their students be more successful. In the readings from this week, we learned, "when states and districts target their money toward well-proven initiatives, researchers have found, academic outcomes significantly improve, especially for poor and minority students" (Burnette II, 2019). If this has been proven to be true, then why aren’t more states taking this to heart and providing more resources to schools with a high population of low socioeconomic students?

According to a report published by the Education Law Center at Rutgers University, “the majority of states have unfair funding systems with ‘flat’ or ‘regressive’ funding distribution patterns that ignore the need for additional funding in high-poverty districts” (Baker et al., 2018). For example, Texas ranks 43rd in wage competitiveness and 32nd in equitable teacher-to-student fairness ratio. Furthermore, Texas is one of nineteen states whose teacher-to-student ratio is flat, meaning that the ratio is the same, regardless of a school’s socioeconomic status.

I wonder how many educators from other districts feel as if their district has set their campus up for failure by reducing their teacher allocation? This is the general feeling on the campus where I taught for 21 years. My former campus is considered a “D” campus based on STAAR scores for the last three years (not counting the quarantine year), and the student population is 63% hispanic and 80% socioeconomically disadvantaged. Both of these demographics are higher than the district percentages, yet the teacher allocation is basically the same as the more affluent campuses in the district. The two campuses in the district in similar circumstances did not receive additional teachers or funding until they had to be restructured due to being labeled “improvement required.” It seems to me that being more proactive by providing the additional resources necessary to help close the achievement gap and boost student achievement would be more cost-effective than allowing these schools to fail in the first place.

When my former campus wanted to adopt the AVID program, the principal researched campuses around the state who had successfully implemented the program, then gathered a group of teachers to visit one of those campuses. The objective was to see the program in action and gather information on how our campus could successfully implement it once these teachers had a chance to be trained. Could state lawmakers not do something similar when it comes to allocating state funding? “Fair and equitable state finance systems must be at the center of efforts to improve educational outcomes and reduce stubborn achievement gaps among students” (Baker et al., 2018). If states like Alaska and New York can figure out how to progressively fund their schools, then why is it that the majority of states either cannot or choose not to follow their lead?


Baker, B. D., Farrie, D., & Sciarra, D. (2018). (rep.). Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card. Education Law Center. Retrieved from

Burnette II, D. (2019). Just How Much Does Money Really Matter? Education Week, 38(34), 13–14.

School Safety

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.