Gilbert Public Schools and The Bouncing Gut Check

This series of Gut Check posts is our public service for the many victims of what appears to be a corrupt GPS promotion system. We hear that our Gut Check posts are causing some serious belching and burping among the Good Old Boys and their wannabees. It’s time to move on to howling and hurling, guys. See the chart at the bottom of this post.

In her marvelous new book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg writes that when it comes to promotions, it is often found that women must show achievement, experience, and the fulfillment of all or most criteria for the job.   In contrast, men must show “potential.”

[Keyboard to Westie: Snicker, snicker, snicker. “Show potential.” Said in reference to the Loose Zipper Brigade. Did you do that on purpose? Here, have some brain bleach.]

Let’s take a look at the (mostly) guys who were selected as principals in Gilbert Public Schools. We won’t use everyone’s name here, but if you wonder about a particular case, just send us an email and we’ll clear things up for you.

In the 2001/2002 interview cycle, there were 6 candidates for 5 positions.  A woman was the only candidate who did not become a principal that year.  Of the 6 candidates, 5 were women and 1 was a man.  The average age of the women was 42.4 and the age of the sole male candidate was 30.  That male candidate was Shane McCord, who got the job at Houston Elementary.  He is now Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services. During the Reign of Shane, 90% of selected principals were men. 70% of selected principals were under 40; their average age was 38.

Before the Reign of Shane, only 34% of selected principals were men, which seems perhaps more appropriate considering the ratio of men to women in education. Only 36% of selected principals were under the age of 40; their average age was 45.15. That also seems more appropriate: you would expect work and life experience to be a good things for a principal to have.

In this day of principals being viewed as “instructional leaders,” you would expect principals to have classroom experience to draw upon as they “coach” teachers to optimal job performance. You would be wrong, at least in Gilbert Public Schools. In addition to the statistical data we crunched for this Gut Check series, we gathered anecdotal evidence that paints a truly disturbing picture.

Take Ashland Ranch Elementary School, for example. Back in 2004, principal Debbie Ybarra got GPS sued for wrongful termination. Ybarra also got involved with the involuntary resignation of an instructional aide, but her buddy Good Old Dave Allison came to her rescue:

Allison has told The Gilbert Republic the district can do  little  about the aide’s complaint that she was forced to leave Ashland Ranch “because  she resigned.” “When you resign, you kind of give up your rights as an employee,” he  said.

The point is, the Gut Check promotion system deemed it necessary to hire “a big man” at the helm of Ashland Ranch after Debbie Ybarra left. (She’s now a principal in the Higley District, in case you care.) The interview team obliged. The average score of male candidates was 218.80; the average score of female candidates was 184.88. Interview teams also gave candidates under 40 a 27% higher rating on average.  (Overall,  candidates under 40 enjoyed a 3% edge in interview scores, but when it came to actually being hired, the edge was much more significant: 70% of successful candidates were under 40.)

This team gave the job at Ashland Ranch to the highest scorer, BR (243 points.)  For some reason, TF, right behind him with 238 points, lost the post at Pioneer to MD, 227 points.  TF was a very young candidate, only 31 years old, but MD was not much older, 34 years old.  Compared to male candidates for all interview rounds,  BR was in the bottom half, and he barely missed being in the bottom half of ALL candidates—he was 18 out of 38.

A different interview team, Superstition Springs/Val Vista Lakes Interview Team, came to different results using the Gut Check.  TM was heads and shoulders above the others in his score: 318 compared to the next runner up, SV with 287 points.  For some reason, SV did not survive the team’s “gut check.”  Nor did the next 4 candidates, all of whom scored higher than the other successful candidate, PM (247 pts).

The Houston Interview Team, on the surface, seemed fairly functional.  It actually selected the highest scoring applicant, JL, as principal.   But JL was only 10.5 points, or 3.7% higher rated than the next best scoring applicant, BD (278.5). BD was 48 at the time of interview and JL was 35.   On average, the Houston interview team scored males 7% higher than women.   That edge of 7% is more than the 3.7% by which JL scored higher than BD.  The Houston team also rated candidates under 40 18% higher than candidates over 40.  Age bias? Probably. But here’s the real kicker: BD is a woman. Gender + age = no principalship for you!

The Towne Meadows/ Harris/Islands interview team seemed to have relied heavily on the gut check, and their gut just did not like women.  This team’s gut favored young male candidates, even if they were particularly low-scoring. The team interviewed 14 candidates.  In scoring, women did very well.  Of the top 8 candidates, only 1 was a man. Female SK was the highest scoring candidate by far.  She scored 327 and the next best candidate, male SV, scored 297.  SV got the job and SK didn’t. Two young men, CP (33, scored 275) and CB (39, scored 274) did get the job.  These two men were outscored by 7 of the 8 women interviewed. But the team didn’t hire ANY women.

The Highland Junior High School interview team interviewed two women and two men.  One woman was 40+, one under 40.  One man was 40+, one under 40.  Very balanced. The team hired MT, a 40-year-old woman.  This is the only team to hire a woman.  MT scored 229, which put her 2nd out of 4 candidates. DL scored higher, with 252 points.  However, MT was ranked 39 of 55 candidates based on her interview score. Of all candidates, DL wins the prize for persistence.  He has interviewed 6 times, never to be selected.

Gut Check Losers: High-scoring candidates. Of the ten successful candidates, only 3 were the top scorers in their interview cycle. That means that 7 other top scorers lost out on jobs because of gut check or some other factor. Take a look at this chart showing the top 20 candidates, based on score.  The chart is sorted two ways: first by gender, then by score.  So, the female candidates are listed first, in order of their score from best to worse.  (Age data available for internal candidates only.)

School Candidate Score Age Success? Gender
TM/H/Islands SK 327  no f
TM/H/Islands LM 291 55  no f
TM/H/Islands PH 291  no f
TM/H/Islands KH 280 35  no f
TM/H/Islands EB 280  no f
TM/H/Islands DT 280  no f
Houston BD 278.5 48  no f
TM/H/Islands KA 277 40  no f
Gilbert El BD 268 48  no f
TM/H/Islands CL 266 43  no f


SupSpr/ValVistaLakes TM 318 38 yes m
TM/H/Islands SV 297 43 yes m
Gilbert El GF 296  no m
Houston JL 289 35 yes m
SupSpr/ValVistaLakes SV 287 42  no m
TM/H/Islands CP 275 33 yes m
TM/H/Islands CB 274 39 yes m
TM/H/Islands DL 270 48  no m
Gilbert El BW 265  no m
SupSpr/ValVistaLakes DF 264 41  no m


One successful candidate, MD, was in the bottom half of male candidates.  He scored really low: only 2 candidates scored worse than his 227 points.  Third from the bottom, and he was chosen as principal of Pioneer Elementary.  He was 34 years old at the time of interview.  The Pioneer team rated candidates under 40 on average 27% higher; maybe that helped MD, who went on to be an interviewer for the Superstition Springs/Val Vista Lakes interview cycle.   Nine out of ten candidates in that interview cycle scored higher than MD’s 227 points. We guess MD gives good gut.

Among the candidate pool as a whole, MD was ranked 16 from the bottom, or 40 from the top.  Most of the candidates who scored worse than MD were women (13), but there were two men who did worse.  One of them, TM, ended up getting a job at Superstition Springs, for which he was the high scorer in his interview round.  By far.  Somewhere between 2009 and 2011, TM must have learned a lot about how to interview (he went from 207 to 318).  DL also improved, going from 179 in 2009 to scores of 248-254 in 2010 and 2011. DL still isn’t a principal, though.  The GPS collective gut just doesn’t like him. Maybe he’s full of integrity or something.

GPS did not provide data for the 2006/2007 or 2007/2008 school year interview cycles.  GPS is keeping it secret how quintessential Mini Me Jason Martin was selected as principal at Highland Park Elementary School.

Bonus Points for the person who correctly identifies the principal in this reference: “We selected him, and he doesn’t have much experience, but his wife is an elementary teacher and that makes up for it.”

You know we’re not finished – there’s a LOT more to come.

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