Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WHAT’S WRONG WITH OSHKOSH? - an op-ed from OASD board member Steve Dedow

            Another OASD Superintendent is leaving our community. Why?
            I have been on the OASD School Board for less than two years. In that relatively short period of time, I have seen our educational system’s foundation weakened again and again by the high turnover rate in quality administration personnel, in particular, two Superintendents in less than two years.  Is this an anomaly which only plagues our community?  The answer would seem to be yes.
            According to the National School Board Association’s website the average tenure of a school district Superintendent in a city over 100,000 people is five years. Other viewpoints indicate that the tenure range for a district the size of ours lay between four and seven years. In Oshkosh the average is ten months, a year, two years? We’re not talking term limits here, we are talking about why that the people we hire don’t even stick around long enough for us to consider firing them. A search for another Superintendent will commence shortly, great.
            According to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, out of the 424 school districts in Wisconsin, our district which is the tenth largest in the State has the least amount of Administrators given the size of our district. So, in other words, we have fewer people doing more work. I guess as a community we are alright with that. But is more work the only reason that they leave? I mean after all, we are a German community, a little more work – no big deal right? In my opinion it is not the work load that is causing the problem.
            Now let me try and place this within the context of the private sector. There are quite a few people out there who firmly believe that the public sector should embrace the mantra of the private sector.  If we just did that we could save all kinds of money and still deliver a competitive product, correct?
             I have a few very minor questions:
            Let’s just suppose that the place that you work at has a new CEO every other year. With every new CEO comes a new idea on how “we can be more efficient and save the shareholders more money etc.” You as a general grunt on the line just start to get the new protocol down when, yup you guessed it, in comes the new guy and all the stuff you have just learned is now irrelevant. Is this the path to high efficiency for your company? Is the morale good at where you work? I am not saying that the public sector cannot become more efficient, certainly it can. What I am saying is that private corporations dread high turnover in their administrative teams. But why is the CEO turnover rate so high here?
            Sticking with the private sector for just a moment, say that you have a former employee who sends hundreds of emails a month to your customer service department essentially saying nothing of substance but demanding a prompt reply. How would you respond? Politely explain that you no longer carry that product or hang up the telephone?
            Or say that you had a disgruntled current employee who created their own local media show which endlessly expounded on all the reasons they think that a customer should never buy your product. How would the private sector respond? Fire him? Promote him?
            What about a “union” of area businesses who liked to continually criticize your company and use their political muscle to make sure that all of the good things that you had to offer as a member of this community went unnoticed even as they held out their hand to you and said “Let’s be a partner.” How would you react? Shake their hand, find some different partners or go it alone?
             Say you had spent a great deal of capital (as a customer) on advertising only to have the firm, which you chose to advertise with, turn around and continually go out of their way to inform your consumer base on what they think is the best way to run your business. What would you do? Would you do your advertising through in house publications, find a different firm, or seek another connective medium?
                        Upon reflection I think that the questions above could have been easily answered if the school district would have only grasped the private sector concept with both hands years ago; we would have hung up the telephone, fired the malcontent, developed relationships with different partners, and hired a new advertising firm a long time ago. Then perhaps today we would have a solid foundation on which to retain high quality talent and to build a dynamic organization in the future.


Post a Comment

<< Home