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I Wonder... Staffing Decisions: Your Wish Is My Command

By Joy Jameson
I Wonder... Staffing Decisions: Your Wish Is My Command

International schools are thought to be exclusive institutions of the highest educational quality. Therefore, I wonder why staff members are often assigned to managerial or teaching positions in areas in which they have little or no training. Why is it that no rules exist to ensure that people are certified for the position to which they are assigned?
Also, how can this practice be considered ethical or morally correct since it shortchanges the students and defrauds the parents who are putting their trust in the schools? Some might go so far as to say that it gives the impression that the school doesn’t care about the quality of the students’ education, nor the smooth functioning of the school.
It seems totally preposterous when a staff member simply decides that it might be fun to teach a different subject, totally alien to his/her training and background, and the school happily approves it.
Equally mind-boggling are the cases in which extremely ambitious, but minimally qualified, staff members become very vocal about wanting a managerial position and are suddenly appointed to the position without a second thought, stepping over less vocal staff members that are much more qualified for the position in question.
It’s as if the administrators are unaware of, or choose to ignore, the strengths and weaknesses of their employees and operate on a “your wish is my command” policy when it comes to certain staff members.
These appointments are especially disconcerting because they can cause substantial upheaval within the workplace, since the unqualified teacher and/or newly appointed administrator must depend on the more qualified colleagues to teach him/her the job, or they simply stumble in the dark day after day.
In worst-case scenarios, a more qualified staff member may even be required to do the work for the new appointee, who later receives all the credit and glory for the work done by others.
Hopefully it’s not a case of administrators simply not caring about the quality of education at the school. Can it be that for some reason the administrators feel threatened by the very vocal teachers, thus they reward them with administrative positions as a token of peace?
Can it be that this was the strategy they themselves used to get their current positions as administrators? There is a famous adage in American culture that says: “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” It seems to be right on target with regard to staffing decisions made in the international school community.
I wonder… why would a reputable, high-quality international school allow this to happen?

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03/14/2015 - Ray
As an international teaching professional with experience in Puerto Rico, the South Pacific, and Korea over a 14-year period, I congratulate both Ms. Jameson and TIE for opening this issue to the community. I have seen (and been the victim of) this practice on 3 different occasions, with each case being one where better-qualified internal candidates existed but were ignored. Having also taught in the US, I can say that such practices are RARE in public school systems here.
03/08/2015 - in Bali, in agreement
Thanks Joy, for espousing this aberration. Indeed it has happened at my school of late, in fact a few times.. Staff members who became so unpopular with students had their assignments minimized, and in some cases their courses were no longer offered as an option due to lack of interest. Rather than be dismissed - as would occur in most types of organization - these staff members were rewarded with other positions, often which carried stipends and involved significantly reduced teaching loads. This was due to very weak administration, all of whom have now departed, but the school is left with the burden as these staff members would not consider leaving knowing that they would not likely have such good fortune elsewhere.
What to do? I have always thought, and more so now, that administrators need to put less credence into the "squeaky wheel", and in fact perceive it as suspect.
03/06/2015 - SarahPGibson (The Traveling Librarian)
Kudos to Joy Jameson for raising this subject and to TIE for publishing it. In my fourteen years of international experience in seven schools and colleges I have seen this scenario many times. It is especially true in school libraries where administrators mistakenly believe they can toss anyone into the position. What happens is that the library program suffers and then, usually before an accreditation visit, administrators suddenly realize the library is an unutilized mess and hire a librarian to correct the situation. Unfortunately, even teachers and students often don't understand what they are missing out on due to lack of exposure and therefore rebuilding an effective library program is a tough, uphill battle. I have seen this situation with many other specialist positions as well. Administrators are under pressure to hire couples as it more cost-effective and thus they fill positions as best they can which can result in unqualified people being slotted into positions. Unfortunately, I don't see this long-term practice changing in this era of for-profit schools unless the accrediting bodies more strictly enforce the 'guidelines'.



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