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Madison school board arrogance?

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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby gargantua » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:58 am

When you've gone through a process that was flawed to the extant that you are left with one candidate, isn't it human nature for that one candidate to start looking even better?

I hope the School Board has the intestinal fortitude to admit that something has gone wrong and reopen the process. This position is too important not to do everything we possibly can to get it right. Even if it takes longer. I have no reason to doubt that the Board tried in good faith. Sometimes things just don't work out.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby david cohen » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:09 pm

Couple of things. I didn't take Ed Hughes comments to be arrogant whatsoever. I do think the Board should continue on with Mrs. Cheatham's process, but I hope they'd take the top candidate, who didn't make the cut for the finalists, and put that person in the "finals." I see no need to reopen the entire search to see what we might get. Let the community meet both finalists, and see how we react when we compare and contrast them. The idiocy of the search firm, giving us a fraudulent candidate, is a separate issue. Then again, I think it's a waste of money to do these national searches when we have good internal candidates. Alas, the ones I am thinking of might not want the job, so.....and believe me, it's a shitty job. $200k/yr to deal with NIMBYs, militants, unions, and parents like me? No thanks....
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby bleurose » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:24 pm

Several posters have pointed out other possible factors which likely played into the paucity of final candidates.

First, Mr. Hughes: he is correct in saying that it can be difficult to get qualified candidates to apply. I continue to believe that the way the game is currently played of 'guaranteeing confidentiality' (at least up to a point) is only a positive for the applicants. It definitely is not a plus for the public which is paying the bill - we have a right to see ALL of the potential hires.

Second, those who say that the low number of applicants can have much to do with the job characteristics are probably quite right. Dealing with various political/social situations, many of which are hair trigger and/or high profile is a steaming pile of stress every day for long/interminable hours and a lot of people, qualified as hell, just don't want any part of it.

Third, the fact that local media and J. Q. Public can quickly find out more about potential finalists than either the head-hunters or the hiring agency speaks volumes. The underlying problem here is that no one can be honest any more when asked for a referral opinion on someone's professional abilities. When you know you stand a pretty good chance of getting sued for libel/slander even when you have documented facts to back up your statements, you just don't give an accurate view. Add to that that the current employer may be desperately wishing that some other company will come along and take this problematic employee - of course the current employer will do everything possible to unload the individual and at the same time avoid the painful process of getting rid of said individual themselves.

I'm still back at "declare a failed search and start over".
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby snoqueen » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:40 pm

Well said. References and human resources in general aren't the places to find out about your potential candidate for just the reasons given.

You'd think the school board and the recruiting company would build this into their procedures.

I would like to know why we don't appear to be recruiting internally. Do none of the present principals and other administrators want this job, or what? We can't have that bad of a bench. It's one of the tasks of a top administrator to prepare people in the ranks to take over at some point, whether in an emergency or through succession.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby gargantua » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:44 pm

snoqueen wrote:I would like to know why we don't appear to be recruiting internally. Do none of the present principals and other administrators want this job, or what?


I think you nailed it with the second sentence. I think we do have a deep bench. A bench that consists of people who know what the challenges are. They know the financial limitations they'll be facing. They know this community, how demanding we are. They know how hard it is to get all of us to agree on and get behind a course of action.

There probably isn't enough money in the world to induce any of them to take on that job.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby Donald » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:06 am

My concern with any search process is that it tends to be reactive and focused on one or two issues, often not the most important ones, but the ones that get the most press attention.

I read that the school board's main issue for the new superintendent is to solve the achievement gap. Here's the problem with that: it ignores each and every student, which ought to be the focus of education. It ignores the real issues of learning for every student.

So, the school board (and by extension, this community) by having this absorption with one issue may have narrowed the field of applicants. If someone has a stellar record improving the education process in a smaller or less diverse community, he or she is not going to get considered here because we have too narrow a focus.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby bleurose » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:35 am

Another aspect which may be in play here and may address Sno's ? re: qualified internal candidates is that there may well have been such individuals, but they were scuttled somewhere along the way.

I have seen this happen first hand on a number of occasions during my career so I have to believe that it is not an uncommon event. People do not acquire experience and qualifications - at least, not relevant/good ones - without invariably pissing off others during their careers. Some of these offended individuals are quite often people who currently work for or with such an internal candidate. The grudge-bearing individual will actively lobby to get on the search committee when the higher level job opens up and the internal candidate, who wishes to advance her/his career, plans to be a candidate. Filling search committees is not always an easy thing to do so of course this chip-on-the-shoulder person (or even persons) is often appointed to serve.

There are several steps along the way when an applicant's resume can end up in file 13 and the focused search committee member can influence all of them. The first one is to just make a case for eliminating a candidate in the very first round of winnowing. All one person has to do is to make some allegations about the potential candidate being "hard to work with" or "not really a team leader" or "abrasive management style, doesn't work well with others" so while it is really too bad because this candidate's credentials look look like just what we need, unfortunately, [u]my[u] experience has shown that s/he would not be a good fit.

Of course, the rest of the search committee is going to listen to someone with "first-hand experience" and after all, the rest of them want to get through this and hand over a short list of candidates for interviews.

Should the candidate make it into the pool of those who will be interviewed by phone or at an airport somewhere, the disgruntled committee member can continue to sow seeds of doubt by 'helping to explain' some of the target candidate's answers after the interview. "Well, that task/reorganization/report (pick something) wasn't the big success that Mr. Green led you to believe. There was a great deal of inefficiency in my unit after he instituted that change and my co-workers were very demoralized." Another spot when a really qualified candidate can get dumped.

In relatively large pools of candidates and if there is a person or persons on the search committee determined NOT to advance a particular name, it can be easier than one would think to dump an individual who would be a great candidate and do very well at the job. Search committees seldom to never dip back into the group of rejected candidates to come up with the finalists, they almost invariably make do with whom they have left and those folks are OK enough for a final choice to be made.

If our hypothetical qualified individual makes into the final small group for in-person interviews, our little beady-eyed search committee member can still make enough of a stink that one of the other finalists will get the offer. Most individuals who are doing the actual hiring want the final pick to be palatable to the entire search committee and it is not at all unusual to make the offer to someone who does not inspire such heated feelings in even one search committee member.

I've seen this happen from several different angles: as the subject of a search committee, while serving on a search committee and watching a nearest & dearest be the object of just such a vendetta. So this is yet another way that tiny groups of meh individuals are the finalists and why some internal folks who would seem to be "perfect for the job" don't make it there.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby Henry Vilas » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:36 pm

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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby Michael Patrick » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:45 pm

I got an email from MMSD announcing her as the new superintendent, so she must have accepted their offer.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby david cohen » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:06 pm

10Q Donald. As long as the MMSD concentrates solely on the lowest common denominator, it's destined for mediocrity.
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