This is a response to the job posting for school principals in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan (https://www.enjapan.com/project/ibaraki_2208/). The response is intended to communicate my recommendation for future actions around the “innovative” call. The Ibaraki Prefectural Board of Education can:
1. Publish manifesto in December 2022
The manifesto and intention of the newly appointed vice president have to be discussed and announced to the public prior to the appointment desirably around December, at the latest, so that candidates to learn at the schools will understand the potential consequences of choosing the school. Otherwise, future students will experience potentially, completely different life or future actions at the school, and school vice presidents will be bound to make only the marginal changes that fall within the traditional expectations.
The assumption is that the widely practiced timelines will follow. School information sessions take place from July to August. For high schools, application is usually due in February, and entrance examination in March. For junior high schools, application in December, and exams in January.
2. Collaborate across the school borders within/outside Ibaraki prefecture
Appointed vice presidents may want to collaboratively fulfill every target so that the effort and risk will be distributed across the 10 schools each of which invites a sub-head if all positions are filled. Drastic plans are bound to be rejected because the stakes of effort and risk are probably too high to concentrate on each school. For example, innovative activities that target specific curriculum standard items in Courses of Study (such as 83H1202310000000, foreign language speaking) can be executed selectively to smaller groups in some of the schools so that the number of students impacted in this endeavor can be controlled, not affecting the whole students in the grade.
Those in the positions can plan and work with other innovative educators and boards of education. It is clear that many activists are leading the field of education across the globe. It is usually easier to copy things that are already tested and available from other places. Some of the visible activities may include the ones from the board of education in Kumamoto city and Toda city. The group of vice presidents can even reach out to copy globally the ones in Khan World School where students learn collaboratively in project-based learning and seminar, and the others like school-based experimental education in Taiwan.
3. Form advisory committee(s)
Each school and the group of the selected schools can form advisory committees, publish agendas and action items, invite opinions from outside committee, and optimally distribute initiatives. It is common that people in any organization will eventually start to act complacently and challenge less to achieve the pronounced goals. The committee must invite those interested regardless of the potential constituency’s beliefs and position and proceed with meetings by strictly observing specific rules such as air-time of speech and length of written notion to present views.
4. Prioritize actions over a unanimous agreement
Bias for action is one of the most effective strategies for change if any organization is willing to innovate itself. The discussion in the committees or any form must focus on how the shortcomings are minimized and risks can be mitigated. The industry occasionally ignores the risks and shortcomings for the case that the status quo remains the same. If the board or anyone negates new proposals, the opposition group may collaboratively build countermeasure plans and vice versa.
5. Invite stakeholders for discussion and publish discussion
Schools can invite those people as active participants for discussion under the strict rules that apply to everyone, such as limiting the time given to present their views because stakeholders can inform school heads about issues and potentially desirable courses of action. Stakeholders include, but are not limited to, parents, guardians, students, candidate students, teachers, community residents, and business leaders. The discussion has to be published on the internet so that the participants in the calls will hold accountable for their voices. It is, of course, the guiding principles that determine the decisions, when conflicts, although all those may want to remember the word, plurality, to take all the sides.
6. Use open source software model and employ reverse procurement
Schools can use the cooperative development/support model widely accepted in the open source software community and can employ reverse procurement to create a solution that addresses user needs because it can offer a more swift and effective means to build and procure software, application, or services than purchasing from outside. Reverse procurement is well proven in g0v (gov zero practiced in Taiwan) and remains as a practical means to offer potentially maximum benefits for all the people affected by available solutions.
If the group(s) of schools may need ready-made services, use the maximum bargaining power of all the schools that agree to use such services if the prefecture plans to purchase or subscribe to any cloud-based services. Data custodianship must be negotiated and at least co-ownership must be achieved in the contrast to claim the right to use learner’s data by learners and potentially by the board of education, protecting the right of learners. Consider a case, it is only the popular service provider that owns the data of learner. How can a school switch to other vendors or negotiate better conditions when it is to renew the contracts? The absence of learner data ownership will inhibit the potential bargaining power. The data is the new gold. Do not give it up yourself!
7. Rename the title of the job posting
The call for candidates must honestly name the position title as the call for a vice president to make consistent the position name and actual position for the first year. The advertisement campaign headline of the job posting is “School head, wanted.” whereas the actual position to fill is mere vice president, with the goal that the appointed vice president will assume the role of president in the next year, potentially equivalent to one full year probation period although the detail is described as follows in the job campaign.