Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

Principal Selection and School District Hiring Cultures: Fair or Foul?
Brandon Palmer, James Mullooly

A host of research dating back to the 1970’s has established the link between principals and school success. Yet, research on how principals are selected has been infrequent, and, the use of merit-based within principal selection processes has been a concern of researchers since the 1950s.Thisqualitative research study examined the perceptions of 221 California public school principals regarding inequity within their principal selection experiences. Results of this study indicated a considerable number of participants had encountered inequity in their experiences as analyzed through the lens of a justice judgment theoretical framework. In many districts, participants perceived that merit-based selection was practiced; however, other participants described pervasive inequity. Participants also described a dichotomy within school district hiring cultures regarding the use of merit. Students need the most-qualified principals leading their schools as Common Core implementation marches toward assessment. Subjective selection procedures and hiring cultures which breed inequity may lead school districts to select less-qualified principals at a critical time when the highest order of leadership is needed to raise and sustain student achievement within public schools. Using rigorous selection methods which minimize bias ensure equity and may improve the quality of educational leaders assuming the principal ship.

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