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The Key to School-District Reform

April 19, 2004
Related Topics: Latest News
The human resources department, often overlooked, is a key ingredient in improving schools, according to a new report from the University of Washington and funded by the Wallace Foundation.

After examining school districts in Houston, San Diego and Milwaukee, researchers say that “although policymakers and academics tend to overlook the behind-the-scenes role that district human resources departments play in education, the human resources office’s effect is far from small. Human resources departments determine whether qualified teacher candidates make it to the classroom, or slip through the cracks. They can help principals find teachers who meet their school’s particular needs, or they can offer only perfunctory administrative support during the hiring process…”

Each of the districts studied was in transition from a bureaucratic to a more performance-oriented style of human resources, and each had found that its human resources department wasn’t providing schools what they needed.

The report recommends that school districts wanting to transform themselves must: 1) Make “difficult personnel decisions” including hiring new human resources staff, upgrading the skills of current employees and reassigning some current employees; 2) Commit both money and staff time to improving technology; and 3) Employ  superintendents and board members who take an interest in the work of human resources.

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