From the Treasury meeting, I did a rushed cab ride over to the headquarters building of DC Public Schools (DCPS) in the northeast section of the city.  We have been working jointly with a survey and data collection partner, WorldAPP, to facilitate the enhanced process DCPS is implementing to evaluate nearly 8,000 new teacher and principal applicants. Shiftboard is happy to be a part of the effort, facilitating all the applicants self-scheduling along with the associated scheduling of nearly 200 interviewers.  As usual, our API and open platform is saving everyone time by allowing WorldAPP to populate applicants directly into Shiftboard from the survey portal.

DCPS is breaking new ground here nationwide.  Among other things, all teacher applicants that reach the 2nd round are required to do an “audition”, providing a 30 minute lesson in their area of expertise to a live classroom of kids.  Doesn’t that sound like the type of rigorous evaluation process you would want your local school system’s teachers put through?

Here was my main takeaway from DCPS: This ain’t your standard big city public school system. These folks are on a mission to make a step change improvement in the outcomes of a lot of kids’ lives and opportunities through public education. I got a sense in three hours there that they were the real deal.  Let me provide just a few indicators:

–The HR recruiting team is led by Sheila Sarem, a bundle of positive energy and urgency who is about as far from a pencil-pushing bureaucrat as I could imagine.  She worked in sales for Cisco Systems in Europe for 6 years before coming to DC to work for the Obama campaign.  She said she then decided to stick around because the city needed help.  Amen.

–Lizzie, their main Shiftboard system administrator, just happens to have a masters in public health from the University of Texas.  I tried not to act surprised.  She was instructing me on the system after the first few minutes of our meeting.

–Sheila’s team is out to find the most talented teachers in the country, including every Teach for America veteran they can get their hands on.  The email signature of the entire 10 person group is the same: “Be a part of public education’s greatest turnaround story.  Apply now.”

Focused.  Aligned.  Motivated.  As I left after 3 hours to catch a metro train, I was thinking “BRING IT, DCPS.  Make it happen!”  Not only that, but as a parent of 3 Seattle Public School elementary students, I want it to happen . . . and soon.

-Rob