Minority Hiring Not as Good as MMSD Touts

A story in today’s Wisconsin State Journal reports carries a headline saying “Schools show big boost in minority staff.” It’s just not so.
The MMSD chose to give the paper the number of minority employees in various job categories in 1987 and 2005 — ignoring an MMSD press release issued October 9, 1995, comparing 1987 and 1994.
If the recent release had compared 1994 and 2005, the comparison would have shown a decrease in the numbers and percentages of minorities among administrators from 23 (17%) in 1994 to 22 (15%) in 2005. Minority employees in clerical and technical catetories decreased from 47 (18%) in 1994 to 15 in 2005. (The press release did not provide a percentage for clerical technical categories.) Among custodians the number of minority employees remained unchanged: 37 (15%) in 1994 compared to 37 (17.7%) in 2005.
Click here for a Word file with numbers and percentages for all of the categories, including figures showing increases in the proportion of minority employees in other categories.

9 thoughts on “Minority Hiring Not as Good as MMSD Touts”

  1. Ed:
    I actually got this information for YOU. A few months ago, you applauded Juan Jose Lopez for making statements regarding minority hiring in the Isthmus. It got me thinking, “What is the data today?” So I asked Bob Nadler, Director of Human Resources to compile the information based on the former press release YOU provided the loyal readers of SIS.
    I realize that on the surface, you are correct regarding the “decrease in the numbers and percentages of minorities among administrators.” Why? Because the board is cutting the positions!
    Regarding, clerical and technical categories decreasing. Again, you are correct. However, you must take into account the position of the “Parent/Community Liaison” that was in many elementary schools and some high schools was reclassified from the Educational Assistant category and placed into “Clerical and Technical.” Why the dramatic decrease? Again, the board cut the positions when the RISE monies were cut.
    Lastly, you are correct regarding custodians. The number of minority employees remained unchanged: 37 (15%) in 1994 compared to 37 (17.7%) in 2005. Why. Again, the answer is the positions are being cut.
    For a full list of the cuts since revenue limits go to http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/cuts.htm.
    Personally, I would like the district to do better not only in minority hiring but retention and promotion as well. However, I understand the constraints not only fiscally but socially as well. The board has had documented conversations and meetings with district personnel such as our minority recruiter, Director of Human Resources, Affirmative Action Officer, the Special Assistant to the Superintendent and the former Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education and the Superintendent. I have never advocated just hiring someone because they were “a person of color” to make statistical comparisons. All of our students need good teachers and staff regardless of their skin color that are culturally competent to serve our diverse population. I believe the Wisconsin State Journal story makes an accurate reflection of the district’s commitment to diversity efforts.
    This school district is making a great effort in this area and I look forward to solidifying these efforts in the future. Your negative portrayal of positive results without looking at the “entire picture” will not help the district get any better.

  2. Johnny,
    Thanks for getting the data. I’m delighted that you asked for it.
    Communication is a funny thing though. It’s best when it’s two way. You never contacted me to say that you were getting the data. If you got it for me, you could have sent it to me. You didn’t.
    However, I won’t take your failure to communicate personally. And please don’t take my comments about the board or administration personally.
    I genuinely hate to be the one to say time and time again that the glass is half full, but what am I supposed to do when the MMSD used data from 1987 and ignored data from 1994 when the district last issued a similar report? Am I supposed to ignore the data from 1994? Am I supposed to turn off my brain and memory? I’m sorry, but I have this odd commitment to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
    Look at Ruth’s most recent post on third grade reading scores, where she explains that the superintendent is trying to claim success when the truth doesn’t support his assertion. It’s the same type of attempt by the MMSD to spin reality into something rosey when it just ain’t so.
    The MMSD can be so much better than it is, i.e., it can help ALL kids succeed academically, but that requires you, me, the board, and the superintendent to look truth in the face without flinching. Positive spin only leads to mediocrity and undermines MMSD credibility with teachers, parents, students, and the entire public.

  3. I looked at the information in the Word table somewhat differently and have a bigger picture concern re minority employment.
    Good news – from 1994-2005 the district staff increased 455 employees. Of that increase in total staff, minority staff increased 170 people (37%).
    Big Picture Concern – While there has been an increase of 455 employees in the past 9 years, the administration has “lost” many tens of teaching positions that the Superintendent felt were needed to maintain Same Service services.
    When staff are laid off, those who are hired last are laid off first, typically. Since many of our minority hires are in recent years, these employees will likely be laid off first. Does that have to be the case?
    An appropriate topic for the Human Resources Committee would be to examine strategies for the retention/retraining of minority staff, all staff for that matter. Laying off younger employees, then rehiring in the fall does not build experience in the district and may over time discourage people from applying to MMSD. There are uncertainties in revenue timing, but that does not account for all the layoffs and rehires.
    The Feb. 7, 2005, Human Resources Committee (present: Clingan, Johnny Winston, Jr. absent: Juan Jose Lopez) had a presentation titled “2005-2010 Plan to Recruit New Staff Members.” I’d like to see the HR Committee begin to explore the important issue of retention/retraining.

  4. Ed:
    The information was for everyone not just for you. Thus the press release was sent to members of the board, media, the readers/contributors of SIS. You don’t have to take it personal.
    On the other hand, I can’t help but take your comments personally. You have not been forthright in your gathering of information. I have told you this several times so it is not a secret. Every time you ask for information that takes away from someone doing their work whether it is me as a board member or a district staff person. Then for you to take the information and write your own personal commentary like some sort of joke (or mystery) is very offensive.
    You are not the media. And if you think you are then from now on, use the channels that they use… the Director of Communications and the communications department.
    I don’t teach reading or algebra, drive a bus, survey land or any of the things you have an issue with.
    But I have dedicated my adult life to trying to make the City of Madison a better place to live, work and learn which includes the school district. I work very hard on this in many organizations that I belong to such as the 100 Black Men of Madison, Latino Support Network, Young Leaders, Sable Flames, NAACP, MAFAAC and others. So this is personal…
    What are YOU doing to help this school district and community hire, retain and promote persons of color?

  5. Barb:
    The board has had many conversations on this matter in many forums. It has not just been regulated to the Human Resources Committee. Also, it is true that the district has lost many positions because of the revenue limits just like every other school district in Wisconsin (or even nationally).
    I make it a point to speak with the district’s minority recruiter on a regular basis. He has given reports to the board as well as community groups throughout the City. He tells me that the immediate need in this district is going to be the loss of many veteran African American teachers in the next couple of years. Some of these teachers even taught me!
    Our recruiter has plans to address concerns related to hiring. Retention is a whole different matter. It is very difficult to attract persons of color to Madison and even harder to keep them. Issues such as the weather, lack of social outlets and isolation are just some of the issues that have to be addressed and this goes far beyond the school district. These things are not going to be solved in a committee or on the school board. Also, it is not just the minority recruiter’s responsibility – it is the entire board, school district and community.
    Related to promotion, the board has been very vocal about the development of a “Grow Your Own type program.” Unfortunately, because of revenue limits this program has had to be cut. I am optimistic that some sort of program will be developed, even with very limited funding.
    If you are interested in seeing the district’s hiring plan you should contact the Human Resources Department or minority recruiter directly.
    Related to losing the least senior staffing, I think talking with a MTI representative would be helpful. In the Madison fire department, we would have had the same issue if the community didn’t place a priority on public safety. But tell that to the parks, streets or utility worker that won’t be able to make a mortgage payment or feed their family. You need all of them for a successful City (or school district).

  6. Johnny,
    I have no idea why you get so upset with me. You don’t post such strongly worded responses to posts by Ruth Robarts or Barb Schrank or Jim Zellmer or anyone else.
    I’m trying to highlight areas where the MMSD can improve.
    By showing the decrease in the number and percentage of minority administators, I hope that you, the rest of the board, and the general public will press the administration into more successful efforts to recruit and retain people of color.
    It’s the same way on the budget. By showing how the budget allocates funds and the administration uses them, I’m hoping that you, the board, and the general public will use the budget process to more actively and consciously make choices on what programs get what funds.
    It’s the same things that Ruth is doing with her recent post on reading, I presume. By showing where the district fails, she probably hopes that the board and administration will find better ways to improve academic performance.
    I’m not going to get into a debate on who personally does what. That will accomplish absolutely nothing. You do a lot, and I commend you for it. I’d like to do more myself, and I’ve offered to help you promote your Street Ball event. I hope that you accept my offer.

  7. Ed:
    My issue with you is that you’re taking up valuable staff and board resources and making unreasonable demands related to the timeliness of the responses you wish to receive. Again, you are NOT the media. When the district gives you information – which I believe uses logical rationale for which a decision was made or reached (i.e. the Marquette program) – you’re writing about “mysteries.” For someone who reads your “blog” you have just crippled the districts credibility. That’s okay if that is your intention – but you say you want to help the district. In this fashion it is not “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” as you stated in your original response to me.
    In none of your communications have I seen you mention the words – “Revenue Limits.” Your account of the fiscal picture, unfortunately, takes the blame away from the Federal and State government and their unfunded and unfair mandates and places it at the feet of the local school board. This is not something that is happening just in Madison but all over the state and country. It is the “spin tactics” that keep the spotlight on the locals. These same tactics are used to show how “inept” public sector employees are because if the were really smart they’d be working for the private sector. This is just not true. It is unfair and unjust.
    Now you want to talk about administrators and not having enough minority ones. The community says, “Cut administration!” So we do. Fewer administrators equal fewer jobs. But, I for one do not support hiring people just on their skin color, however, this district IS making a concerned effort to hire, retain and promote persons of color. The new Principal at Toki came through the ranks and started in the district as an Educational Assistant. The same thing has happened with the new Assistant Principal at Sherman. I am very proud of that. Those people and the district should be applauded not ridiculed.
    People who post on this blog have a responsibility as well. For some, their advocacy efforts fuel their passion thus the blog becomes therapeutic in nature. I don’t have a problem with that. For others, the blog disseminates information. They’re speaking “their truth.” I don’t have a problem with that either. I do have a problem with elected board members who would rather communicate their thoughts with the SIS audience before communicating with the other elected board members and make no motions on Monday night. That’s a problem! The same with people who always talk about the failures of the district and very seldom speak of the district success. Management 101 will tell you that is not a good way to manage, however, we’re not talking management – we’re talking politics and we all have constituencies. Negativity will always get you on talk radio and quoted in the newspaper but it will never get their ideas heard or their agenda fulfilled. To me, that’s not a good use of my Monday night.
    In closing, I just wish you would use your powers for good…

  8. Thank you so much for responding, Johnny.
    The board is in deep trouble if my piddling posts “cripple” its credibility. If my requests and posts are as inappropriate as you feel, they won’t reshape anyone’s opinion on anything. If you’re right, on the other hand, maybe my posts will boost the MMSD’s credibility!
    In my mind, voters expressed their opinion on the board’s credibility when they rejected two out of three referenda questions and ousted an incumbent last spring.
    As to putting my “powers” to good use, I asked to serve on the East task force, but I wasn’t appointed. I’m willing to serve on the task force looking at equity. Would you support my appointment to that task force?
    I’d also be honored to help you promote your Street Ball event, as I said earlier. I could set up a blog for the event and otherwise use the Web to get the word out. What else could I do to help?

  9. Based upon my post, I noted that the hiring (recruiting) of minority employees was very good (37% of new hires were minority), an important, strong point for MMSD that was missed in the press release, but is good, solid news. That’s why I posted that number. Recruitment wasn’t my concern. Retention of staff and developing strategies within the powers and constraints of the District re staff are a concern. I also thought that staff issues were the primary responsibility of the HR Committee. I raised a concern that might be considered in the future. I did not raise a criticism.
    I think my point was missed – oh well, another time.

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