Well, let’s go through the checklist to see if the district is prepared, just as every family will have to make sure that they have all of their school supplies ready:
New superintendent: check.
New cabinet for the superintendent: check.
New administrative alignment plan: check.
Top level administrators in place: check.
Campus leadership: still need 3 assistant principals, 1 associate principal, and 9 principals (including 2 magnet high schools).
Teachers: still need 335 teachers (including 31 science teachers, 24 math teachers, 88 bilingual teachers, and 31 special ed teachers- all hard to fill positions).
Teacher Assistants: still need 110 teacher assistants.
Is it unusual for a school district to have this many crucial openings so close to the opening day of school? Richardson ISD has about 36,000 students, and still needs about 14 teachers. Frisco ISD has 46,000 students and needs 9 teachers. Lewisville ISD has about 50,000 students and has 24 teacher openings. Fort Worth ISD has 80,000 students and still needs approximately 40- 50 teachers. These numbers are typical for the surrounding school districts. When these figures are extrapolated, it is clear that no other district in the DFW area is in this condition.
Is the glass half empty or half full? On the bright side, any teacher who does not yet have a job will have few places in the Dallas area to look besides Dallas ISD. Conversely, all the other districts have been busy filling their positions and may have snapped up the best teachers already. One could argue that “DISD has always done it this way, it is not unusual for there to be this many openings shortly before school starts.” That may be true, but it may also explain the preponderance of failing schools in DISD. The school year begins in chaos, with new teachers, new principals, inadequate teacher preparation time, and does not begin to settle down until after the first 6 weeks. That is a lot of learning time lost forever for those children.
Charles Glover was hired at the end of May of this year as our Chief Talent Officer. Just what has he been doing to ensure that the district fulfills its own directive to “reach our destination by placing an effective teacher in front of every child”? His first priority should have been to hire the 9 principals, followed closely by filling the 335 teaching positions, so that these new hires could be adequately trained and oriented before the start of school.
If we as a district truly believe the Destination 2020 Core Belief #2 that “Effective instruction makes the most difference in student academic performance,” then it seems that we should place a higher priority on getting good teachers in place well before August 27. What can Charles Glover and Jamal Jenkins (executive director of HR) do to ensure that we are not in this same situation next summer? How can they attract good talent to DISD? How will they change HR to be more organized, efficient, and proactive? We look forward to seeing this department overhauled posthaste.
The breaking news from Houston is that Ann Best, the HR chief hired from TFA 3 years ago, has resigned and is going back to TFA. Houston currently has over 290 open teacher positions posted on its website, although some are saying that they actually will be hiring between 750- 1500 new teachers. We’re awaiting confirmation on those figures. It seems that hiring someone with little to no HR experience did not work out so well for the Houston ISD. Let’s hope that Mr. Glover does not follow in her footsteps.