Dr. Matt Hillmann
Northfield Public Schools
MASA President

“As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall.” — Jean-Baptiste Rousseau

Our nation continues to face a workforce shortage unlike we have witnessed in some time. MASA members are all too aware of these workforce shortages in nearly all parts of our schools. While it is critical to be transparent about the difficulties we face in education and public service in general, we may also be inadvertently engaged in negative marketing.

Our society needs a public service renaissance. We need to emphasize its overall positive nature. A few items to consider as talking points when encouraging public service:

  • Public service is good work — it is both challenging and rewarding.
  • Effective public service helps develop trust in our democratic institutions.
  • Public service is meaningful — we have an opportunity to impact the lives of our neighbors positively.

We also need to acknowledge some sacrifices we make for the greater good when choosing a career in public service:

  • Working with the public has challenges —  different people have different expectations and sometimes express their displeasure in less than tactful ways.
  • Salaries for public servants can be lower than for private industry.

All too often, we compare public service and private industry. As educators, we have long held that running a school and a business have similarities but require different management approaches. Public service cannot be just a “job.” We need to recognize it as a calling — a vocation — if you will. 

We do ourselves no favors by perseverating on the negative aspects of public service. All occupations have flaws. I hold a simple philosophy in this area: I execute the parts of my position that I don’t like, so I get to perform the aspects of my work that I love.

We can also inspire others to a career in public service. Encourage not only students but those adults in our community who we see could be difference-makers. People need to hear the potential our positions — our vocation — hold in serving our democracy.  

As MASA members, we can be beacons of effective public service and the joy it can be. Our love for our service can be the best marketing for the next generation of public servants and, most importantly, educators.

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