Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Providence Model Staffing Initiative

I'd love to know more about the "Providence Model Staffing Initiative," which is apparently some kind of partnership between RIDE, PPSD, and The New Teacher Project. There is a site manager, Nora Meah, and an old job description in Google cache:

  • Managing on-site, day-to-day operations, including maintaining the teacher applicant database, scheduling interviews between candidates and principals, and responding to candidate communications in a timely manner
  • Managing a targeted recruitment campaign
  • Using PPSD school specific and TNTP selection criteria to select high quality teacher candidates for the district applicant pool
  • Providing outstanding customer service to and communicating regularly with candidates and principals
  • Maintaining data management systems for the initiative
  • Collecting and analyzing teacher hiring data to benchmark progress against goals
  • Generating innovative solutions to program challenges and differentiating support services as needed
  • Working with principals to identify vacancies and refer potential candidates
  • Answering questions and helping principals solve problems related to teacher hiring
  • Planning, organizing, and managing the logistics of regular principal meetings, site visits, and hiring events
  • Working with the client and TNTP Site Manager on additional projects as necessary

I bring this up because the performance of HR in the PPSD was horrible this year, even in comparison to their previous low standards. Complete lack of communication and coordination within the department. It was so bad that the union had a special meeting to explain to affected teachers that they shouldn't take the department's behavior personally and that it was due more to incompetence than malice. Cold comfort to be sure.

The best way to make progress toward resolving a specific issue seemed to be to get the union's executive director to personally contact the superintendent, or otherwise go kiss somebody's ring in administration high enough to get on the phone and yell at human resources.

The specific competent people at HR who in past years could be relied upon to sort out typical snafus and catch errors now are demoralized and seemingly under orders not to resolve problems themselves.

Just imagine a new season of the Wire where Daniels is trying to get his people back together, and he runs into some kid on a non-profit's payroll and a Harvard MBA explaining why he can't have McNulty and Lester back. It was kind of like that.

A couple larger issues:

  1. unity of command - I'm afraid the PPSD is going to get harder to run (if you can imagine that) due to RIDE and these NGO's (that's really what they are, aren't they?) getting more and more deeply entwined in district operations. Who's in charge? Who's responsible?
  2. To whom is a New Teacher Project employee embedded in a government office accountable to? Can Providence fire her? Who evaluates her?
  3. You know what would be awesome? If The Broad Foundation and friends could actually get us people to work in human resources who, you know, had experience running human resources in large enterprises. It is not that helpful to give us kids with Peace Corps and Brown Urban Ed. Master's.

Finally... for you ed reform organization completists, here's one I hadn't seen before: Education Pioneers, which seems to be oriented towards creating just this kind of highly-educated but not-really-qualified staffers for your organization.

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