Reader Reply

School Administrator, August 2017

I was pleased to see Joy Baskin’s column “Educating Immigrant Students” (Legal Brief, April 2017) because it is and has been a serious issue that school administrators and all educators deal with every day.

My usual response to a sometimes vocal minority that complain about economic and racial issues involving immigrants is simply this: We have a responsibility to each child in our district to educate him or her to the best of our ability and to the greatest extent that student can learn.

All students are important, and we should not be judging anyone by the bed he or she slept in the night before or the color of that child’s skin or the country in which the parents came from, whether legal or not. As educators, it is not our responsibility to determine the legality of the student or the parents. We are responsible for ensuring each student reaches his or her potential and has the chance to lead a productive life.

Leonard Merrell
L. Merrell Consultants,
Hockley, Texas

A Manhattan Mystery
I enjoyed the discussion of cellphones in the magazine’s April issue. It made me think of a wonderful conversation I had with our twin grandchildren from Manhattan.

They were visiting us in Wisconsin. We had all decided to go out for dinner, and I said I’d get the phone book so we could make a reservation. My grandson Charlie said, “What’s a phone book?” At first, I thought he was kidding his old grandpa, but his sister Elly assured me he was not.

I got a phone book, and they were fascinated. In fact, I offered to let them take it back to New York to show their pals something historic. It was tucked in their bag.
Karl V. Hertz
AASA Past President,
Thiensville, Wis.
Adieu to PR
C.J. Huff’s article in April, “Community Engagement 2.0,” offers a welcome sign of enlightenment. He hit the main points of school people working closely with business people and others in the community to better the education of our youth. And I note, favorably, that the term “school public relations” is nowhere mentioned.

I became involved in school PR in my first school district, where I tried to explain the school district’s programs and what educators were doing to serve the citizenry. But my second superintendent would not allow me to use the terms school public relations or school PR. He insisted on “school-community relations,” and I think he was right.

Today, I prefer the term “community engagement” as it refer to parents, nonparents, business folk and anyone else.

I love the way Huff, a former superintendent, specifies the kind of activities he recommends — partnerships for students, mentorships, apprenticeships, etc. — activities in which students see how the real world operates in the grocery store, the attorney’s office and the hardware store. These are places to put theory from the classroom into practice.

To the advice the author suggests, I would add a steady diet of classroom success stories for the local news media, starved as they are for reporters today because of staffing cutbacks, and find ways to share good news about staff members with other staff members to build team morale. 

In other words, the day of hard-sell school public relations is over.
Al Holliday
Retired Publisher,
Journal of School Public Relations,
Camp Hill, Pa.

Changes in Hiring
I was interested to read the My View commentary, “The Function and Dysfunction of Hiring” (January 2017), about hiring practices in my former school district, Burlington, Vt., by my colleague Yaw Obeng. 

The principal hiring process that I collaboratively developed with Mary Jane Dieter of Trifocal Consulting in 2009 during my time there as superintendent, preceded the current hiring system used in Burlington. 

The four hallmarks of our unique hiring process were:

» The shared decision-making design brings more voices to the superintendent’s final hiring decision;

» The explicit and intentional use of a criteria grid for posting and then screening applications, which identifies the critical and value-added qualifications and experiences sought in ideal candidates; 

» The inclusivity of all stakeholders throughout all stages of the hiring process to ensure authentic and equal input;

» The development of a candidate feedback form for each stakeholder group to complete following their interviews, which provides measurable quantitative and qualitative information about the candidates to the search committee.

The results of this transparent and inclusive hiring process is the overwhelming buy-in and support from the whole community for the successful principal candidate, as well as strong retention of principals. Dieter continues to facilitate this process throughout New England, and I continue to implement this process in my current district. 

Jeanné Collins
Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union,
Brandon, Vt.


Letters should be addressed to: Editor, School Administrator, 1615 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314. E-mail: