all with links to our community. Some of these people were students at our high school, student teachers in our classrooms, life long community members residing in our neighborhoods, and we hire them. We hire them to teach our children. Our school district has a vision statement of “Educating every student to achieve global success.” Can we do that when those teaching, administering, planning, or evaluating only have a local scope of reference?
This isn’t just true in education, either. I have seen the nepotism in health care as well. Virtually every teaching hospital my husband and I worked in over the last 30 years strove to keep some of their own. It makes sense to try to keep the cream of the crop, so to speak. But, what if the cream is thin? Or, not up to cream standards elsewhere? Or what if those doing the hiring have no outside scope of reference?
We all talk about diversity and the importance of having diversity in our communities, in our lives, and as examples for our children. And, yet, when it comes to hiring in education…..locals, incumbents, and familiar faces all have an edge. As a person living in a community who is not from this community or even this state, the thought process behind the preference (whether intentional or not) bothers me. It certainly does not set an example of diversity or globalism, for that matter.
From an administrative stand point, I do understand the ease that comes with hiring one of “your own.” These people are more of a sure bet, easier to train because they have already experienced “the system” or “your system.” And, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some people worth retaining or obtaining from your own system or community. But, I really think that this should be the exception not the norm. And, certainly not the norm that it has become – an expeditious fast track to just fill the vacancy.
We, as a community, should be seeking, welcoming, and hiring people from outside our local region to teach our children. Instead, at times, I feel we are suspicious of them and their experience. If we want to prepare our students for participation in a global society, they have to receive some experiences of diversity, hear of “how it might be done differently” elsewhere, and be mentored by those who actually do have more of a diverse background. Maybe that means from another state, another region of the United States, another type of setting (rural or urban), or even another nationality, or country. As educators and stakeholders we would do well to provide (by hiring) some of these “outside” diverse human resources.
A varied and variety of experiences are important for a well-rounded life that can consider options and opinions that might, at first, seem foreign or outside of the local “norms.” I know that is something I have valued in my own life, my husband’s life, and that we both have tried to impart to our children. Our experiences in other states, in both health care and education, at both esteemed institutions like Johns Hopkins Hospital and University in Baltimore, or small community hospitals like Sister’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York, where most of the residents were of a Middle Eastern background imparted a vision of diversity, global-ness, and tolerance. If we, and I do mean all of us, want to embrace a vision of global citizenry and preparedness to participate in a world after local graduations, then it would be wise to start looking for hires in the world of education outside of our own communities.
Those with experience elsewhere can bring a freshness to the ideas presented at the table and in the classroom, with more flavors and reasons to experience teaching and learning in ways that are different from what is currently offered. It is more than just attending a conference and bringing an idea home, it is the inclusivity of taking a chance on an educator or administrator who has a different background or comes from an area outside our own. Seeking, attracting, and hiring those individuals might take more time and patience, but I believe, for our students, the dividends will far outweigh the inconvenience. And, while we truly love and appreciate some of our homegrown educators who have had extremely positive influences on our students, and definitely want them to continue to do so, I do think at least the idea of hiring from outside the area has its merit and is deserving of some serious consideration.
*** Disclaimer*** This op-ed does not take into consideration the issue of state licensure which undoubtably plays a role in the hiring process of educators and healthcare providers.
This piece is written to share with the writing community of TwoWritingTeachers for Slice of Life Tuesday. Thank you to those at TwoWritingTeachers.org for the opportunity to share with other educators.