Jeff Meadors: Bad hiring practices costly to schools

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

There are lessons to learn from systems behaving badly.

In the midst of staffing troubles in New York City schools where abundant layoffs have displaced top talent, the system struggles with bad practices.

Cathie Black took the helm as Chancellor of NYC schools last year with much acclaim from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch. Emerging from corporate gentry, Black did not last the night in public schools, leaving after 95 days on the job.

Public education is hard work. Ask Bloomberg appointee Black. Ask a teacher. When hiring goes bad the damage to morale is cancerous to teachers, classrooms and student achievement. Good teachers leave. Tax dollars follow. Students lose. Take a look around at counties, once lands of milk and honey, brought to their knees through bad hiring and corruption leading to indictments and wastelands.

Black, Hearst Magazines superstar, required a waiver to get her job. She possessed no requisite experience to run NYC schools.

Black is a poster child example of Jim Collins' argument that it is the "who" that matters. Get the right people on the bus and in the right positions; get the wrong ones off.

2011 NYC Education Commissioner David Steiner remarked that Black's deficiencies in formal qualifications were "offset by the appointment of a chief academic officer to serve by her side" who had a background in "successfully leading complex organizations."

But public schools proved no cake walk for this pair. Within hours of Black's resignation Steiner resigned as well. One by one they fell from the bus.

It takes schools years to recover from bad hiring; some students don't.

Now, one year later in NYC schools, a nepotism scandal rocks the system under new Chancellor Dennis Walcott, successor to Black, who also needed a waiver to get the chancellor job. They never learn.

Angel Namnum, a $190,000-a-year executive director, pressured one of his pawns to create a position for his wife, according to a report by special schools investigators.

Walcott said Namnum, who began his career as a substitute teacher in 1987, has been fired.

"It is obvious to me that Mr. Namnum abused his responsibility and privileges to secure a job for his wife, who was clearly unqualified," Walcott added.

After being fined $1,250 by the Conflict of Interest Board in 2008 for securing a principal's job for his brother, Namnum grew bolder, then unemployed.

NYC conflicts of interest law prohibits employees from using their positions for financial gain for themselves, relatives and friends.

When systems forego the meaningful work of student achievement and abandon best practices the results are a lack of public trust, decimation of morale and lower student achievement.

Ironically, of the 1.3 million students in the U.S. graduating class of 2011 who did not graduate, 73,000 of them, or 5.6 percent, were from NYC schools.

It was smart to get Black, Steiner and Namnum off the bus. Unfortunately, 73,000 students went with them.

Jeff Meadors represents District 1 on the Newton County Board of Education. He may be reached at Jeffrey.meadors@gmail.com.


amp72 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow! This man just keeps proving his value to this community and we can't thank him enough. FINALLY, someone has the guts and strength to not only speak his mind but do it in a way that foments change. We applaud you Mr. Meadors. Keep writing, keep fighting!


MissLoy 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm with you 100% Amp he does deserved to be thanked and this exactly what and who we need to be on the Board, cause let's face it with out him we would be left in the dark with no answers and knowledge about what is REALLY going on. It takes someone like him to prove a point and I have got to say the man has heart. Keep speaking your mind and doing what you do. It is greatly appreciated more then you know.

Thanks again.


Satan69 3 years, 7 months ago

OK so something really caught my attention in this particular article and it really stands out because of the chaos. " There are lesson's to learn from systems behaving badly." Thank you for pointing this out I think that most of the public needs this spelled out for them lately. They know whats going on but they want to act blinded by it. Come on it isn't science to see all the wrong doing's that are going on in this school system, and if you agree with what is going on your just as guilty as the family members running it.

Thanks you District 1 for having the backbone to speak on behalf of the NCSS and for everyone else who is too afraid to do it. The voice of Newton County.

See people great representation of public service.


Wildwomanoftigertown 3 years, 7 months ago

From one Educator to another. Thank you for all the hard work and endless hours you put in to do whats right.

You deserve to be right where you are right now, you do us proud.


Personalsavior 3 years, 7 months ago

Amp I think we should give this man a round of applause just for being who he is. It takes a hell of a guy to stand up for what he believes in. I just appreciate what he does and doesn't let anyone push him around. It takes a certain individual to do this kind of job and he is it.


spdracer90 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank goodness for Mr. Meadors! He speaks the brutal truth and I love it!! Now if we can get a plan of action to get some people in the NCSS "off the bus". Thank you Mr. Meadors for your voice in supporting what is right for our school system!


amp72 3 years, 7 months ago

Sometimes I wish "the bus" would just go off a cliff with a certain few still on it and we just build a new one.


Pounder 3 years, 7 months ago

"Black is a poster child example of Jim Collins' argument that it is the "who" that matters. Get the right people on the bus and in the right positions; get the wrong ones off."

So true! How about removing people who seem to think that ruling with fear is the way to be an administrator? I don't care if results are made. Guess what? The talented ones are leaving. Will someone wake up and smell the coffee?

By the way, when Jeff Meadors writes an article he signs his name and not from the Newton County Board of Education. How could anyone have a problem with Mr. Meadors sharing his own insights? His insights are honest and eye opening. Keep up the good work!


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