Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Inaccurate resumes

I read today about the economics of fake degrees which reminded me of a former colleague with a fake resume. He is the head of a prestigious independent school and by all accounts is doing well. However, when I looked him up on LinkedIn, I noticed two inaccuracies. One was a gross exaggeration. The other was simply untrue.

"Joe" was my deputy principal in a PK-12 independent school. This school about 10 years old was the result of a merger of three schools: 'x' Preschool and Elementary, 'y' Preschool and Elementary and 'z' Middle and High. Each had its own principal, and when they were combined, an overall principal was appointed. I think all three former principals moved on, but that was before my time. The new school, named 'x' PK-12 School, took the name of the suburb where it was located.

Joe was Deputy in charge of Preschool and Elementary, and along with Deputy in charge of Middle and High and Business Manager, the four of us formed the leadership team. In terms of academics, students, staffing and so on, Joe was effectively the PK - G6 principal. However, in all matters strategic, financial and schoolwide, his position as deputy was clear. The organizational structure placed him on line three under Board and school Head.

I had inherited Joe and found him difficult. He was not a team-player and resisted schoolwide policies and direction from me or from the Board. I pulled his file, but found no references or even copies of qualifications. His resume showed him as a lower elementary (K-2) coordinator in his previous school so I called his previous head and asked about Joe. It turned out Joe was the lower elementary technology coordinator, a significant difference.

Soon after, Joe left to take up a principal position in a small school in another state. Interestingly, the school did not call for a reference. Rumors suggested Joe presented himself as "PK-6 Principal" and not "Deputy in charge of Preschool and Elementary", again a significant difference. He must have done well as, five years later, he became principal of another school in another state, and a few months ago he gained his current post.

The announcement of Joe's appointment led to me looking him up. His official LinkedIn profile lists him as Deputy Principal Lower Elementary of the earlier school, and then Principal of 'x' School. Remember, this school ceased to exist some ten years before he arrived.

Joe is apparently a good principal and both schools did well under his leadership. However, he gained all three appointments (four if you count the one where I met him) based on lies.

When searching for a new principal, Joe's current school outsourced the screening and shortlisting processes to a well-known search agency. Coincidentally, I recently spoke with the recruiter who handled Joe's appointment on another matter and I disclosed the above information. The recruiter was uninterested. He took three references which was all the client requested. The references were satisfactory, Joe was appointed, and he received his fee. His agency had so much business that, even if the school learned of the deception, he did not care if he lost their business.

I wonder how much schools and we as educators really do walk the walk. Every school has values in its mission statement, and almost all include honesty, integrity, virtue. Yet here we a have a school leader who knows he was and continues to be dishonest, and an active recruiter who knows he has made at least one dishonest appointment. What does this say about where we are heading and the messages we send our children?

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