June 27, 2008

A modest proposal for Unified and Parkside...*

Let's switch search firms.

The contracts Racine Unified and UW-Parkside had with their search firms both offer a second search free (as long as we pay expenses, of course) in the event a search turns to sh-- ... um, fails the first time around, as has happened in both cases.

We've already spent upwards of $100,000 on the two searches. One brought Unified three top candidates paid to leave by their last school district employers (and one who'd written his own letters of recommendation, and more, to get a previous superintendency) and then a superintendent-designee who left us standing at the altar without even a farewell kiss or a personal phone call. The other search gave Parkside a chancellor-designee with an amazing amount of questionable history who turns up under federal investigation a week before his inauguration. Wouldn't that have been an investiture to remember if the feds had come just a week later!

Is it just us? Are we modern-day embodiments of Al Capp's poor ol' Joe Btfsplk, who walked around with a thundercloud over his head, trailed by disaster?

From what we saw at Unified, these search firms "work with" a group of job seekers, and keep proposing them to various paying clients. In Unified's case, for example, at least two of the three finalists winnowed down from the list ProAct provided had been presented by the search firm to at least one other district client -- Toledo. After a while, the search firms must feel they have something invested in the applicants, because it's clear they're less-than-forthright about the warts uncovered in their backgrounds.

So, it stands to reason that if ProAct is again hired to find Unified a superintendent, and if EFL Associates is again contracted to find Parkside a new chancellor, both will dip into their usual well of applicants, and propose to us more of the same old, same old. Environmentally, this kind of recycling is fine, but in the academic milieu it doesn't seem to be working.

Which brings us to the genius of our proposal (what's the point of false modesty, eh?). If we switch search firms -- ask EFL to find us a new superintendent and ProAct to find us a new chancellor -- then both will have to start from scratch. Maybe this way they will both come up with competent candidates who won't bolt at the last minute.

Or maybe not.

Aw, hell, let's just throw darts at the phone book and be done with it...

* With apologies to Jonathan Swift. Hey, I'm not suggesting we eat any babies...

No comments:

Post a Comment