Message from the Chief Executive Officer

Our first cohort of 10 urban districts recently “graduated” from their three-year participation in the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy (USHCA) and, according to an external program evaluation, the Academy was a HUGE success. Participants described the Academy as “incredibly impactful on their department’s efforts to become high‐functioning, strategic organizations” and found the Academy’s dual focus on strategy and tactics to be particularly powerful. As the Chief Executive Officer of this organization, I am delighted to say that our efforts to develop, support, and network urban Human Resources and Human Capital leaders all across the country to drive measurable improvement have been a resounding success.

From 1979 through 2010, I was deeply involved in the human resources and human capital (HR/HC) work in the suburban/urban schools districts of Fairfax County, VA, Montgomery County, MD, and then the New York City Department of Education – the largest school district in the nation. While the context in each of these districts are all quite different, my experiences illustrated that this work is largely transferrable across school districts, and deeply impactful in improving workforce quality.

When I began the important work of building great HR practices, processes, and supports to principals over 35 years ago, I believed that “The Best People Get the Best Results.” This continues to be the motto for our work in the USHCA today. Over the course of the three-year program, we have helped districts relentlessly focus on recruiting, deploying, and retaining the best people and the results are in. Nearly all of the districts improved their data availability on key HR/HC metrics identified, with seven of our ten districts realizing double digit gains in the percent of metrics with readily available data. More importantly, satisfaction with the HR/HC services provided in these districts has improved markedly as well, with the Academy helping districts to better support schools and districts as a whole.

Our work continues with a second cohort of 11 districts. We have learned from our program evaluation that we are on target, and we are so excited to be spreading this important work even further across the country. For the second cohort, we will further tailor the curriculum to meet individual district needs, sequencing the content based on the district context. We are helping districts create action plans that are detailed, actionable, measurable, and realistic while we continue to build a sustainable organization.

The program evaluation report quotes one of our district HR leaders who summed up the views that were shared by many others:
“I would categorically say the support, information, and modules that we received from Urban Schools is invaluable. If I had my choice I would make it a specific requirement for every HR department in any school system. It is that valuable.”

We continue to be gratified by these exceptional responses to our work in the field of HR/HC, and we look forward to having more and more districts across the country join us so that there will be a high-quality teacher in every classroom and a high-quality principal in every school.