Jennifer Page: Supports national search for superintendent

Thursday, October 05, 2017
Supports national search for superintendent

The Amherst Regional School Committee will vote Oct. 10 whether to appoint Michael Morris as the permanent superintendent, or to conduct a national search for the position.

The question of whether or not Dr. Morris is qualified is irrelevant at this stage. The question is, should we do a search, and the answer is yes, because conducting a national search is the right thing to do when it comes to living out the school district’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in our school community.

The practice of appointing an individual to a position, instead of doing an open search, is a practice that has historically been used to keep people of color out of jobs. When hiring managers appoint someone they already know in a closed process, the job is less likely to go to a person of color.

A study by Johns Hopkins University, titled “How Minorities Continue to be Excluded from Equal Employment Opportunities: Research on Labor Market and Institutional Barriers,” was first published in 1987 in the Journal of Social Issues, a peer-reviewed academic journal. It studied over 4,000 employers and found a statistically significant difference that favored a white person’s chance of being hired when employers directly offer a job to a specific employee. In addition, the probability that a minority worker will fill the job is significantly greater when employers post a vacancy notice.

We should do a search, not because we shouldn’t hire Dr. Morris as the permanent superintendent, and not because we must fill the position with a person of color, but because as a school district committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion, we must not engage in practices that are proven to disadvantage people of color.

A recent statement from Dr. Morris and Doreen Cunningham, assistant superintendent for diversity, equity and human resources, reaffirmed “our unequivocal commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in our school community.”

I urge the School Committee to show the community that these are not merely words, but that they are a call to action in all aspects of our school district, including the hiring of a permanent superintendent.

Jennifer Page