HOMER V. CARPETBAGGER

There are few hotter arguments in education that who shall we hire as a superintendent of schools. There are age old conflicts about getting an outsider with lots of experience in other school districts and someone from within. There are even studies about the subject. Most say that an outsider is more successful 60% of the time. How you manage to determine that is beyond my ken.

I was at once a homer and an outsider at the same time. I got a job in the Kutztown Area School District as a junior high school principal and then became the school superintendent. I was somewhat of a hybrid. However, I had my children in those schools and was involved in the community. If it wasn’t for the community, I would not have become the school superintendent.

There is certainly a difference between hiring an outsider and hiring someone who has had multiple superintendencies. That is what I mean by a carpetbagger. Just locally I have run into two superintendents who have had 6 and 4 jobs as supers, including the one they have now. In one case, the person is already getting pensions for two other states. It appears that he will make no waves and get a third pension here in SC.

What does all of this mean? Having a homer, someone from the community, who went to those schools, went to college and then came back to teach and climbed the ladder to the superintendency, is sometimes a very good thing.

This is not to say that it is always true, but there are some obvious advantages. Most of the time, for a homer, it’s not really a job. Having lived in the community most of one’s life, the feeling of what can be done to make life better for the kids and the adults in the community is always  in the forefront of one’s mind.

Gathering forces in the community is a possibility when times get tough. In trying out something new, there is a trust that the homer will not do anything bad for his/her hometown. Especially in rural areas, suspicion runs deep. There is that old saw about the elderly women standing around a casket at the funeral home. They commented on what a wonderful person she was and even though she was born in the neighboring township and moved here when she was six months old. It was almost like she was born here.

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