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Would You Give This Man a Job?

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Most school districts across the country would leap at the opportunity to hire a teacher-candidate who holds degrees in philosophy, political science, and law, and who has expressed great interest in working at an entry-level job in an inner-city school.

They would be even more interested if the candidate were politically well-connected and a prominent member of the community.

Not so Philadelphia.

For more than two months, local school officials have put on hold an application from a candidate who holds all those credentials and more. And who happens to be the former state secretary of education to boot.

The candidate in question, Thomas K. Gilhool, does indeed hold degrees from Yale University in those fields and was a Fulbright Scholar in town planning at the London School of Economics.

Mr. Gilhool decided to pursue a new career as a public-school history teacher after resigning as secretary of education last June during a dispute over special-education funding.

When he recently took the district's teacher examination, he reportedly scored third out of the 57 candidates taking the test that day. (Mr. Gilhool did not return repeated telephone calls to his home and office.)

But despite his eminent qualifications and his willingness to take a cut in pay from the $55,000 a year he earned as a public-interest lawyer to the $25,000 he will make as a first-year teacher, Mr. Gilhool's application was put on hold in September.

The application was delayed after Superintendent of Schools Constance Clayton voiced suspicions that, because Mr. Gilhool was tested in a separate room from the other candidates, he had been given favorable treatment. (See Education Week, Nov. 8, 1989.)

When Ms. Clayton announced last month that she would take disciplinary action against six of her aides who were involved in processing Mr. Gilhool's application, the school board began its own inquiry into the matter.

Mr. Gilhool's quest became something of a cause celebre in the City of Brotherly Love, and The Philadelphia Inquirer characterized the situation as "absurd" and called on the school board to "clear away the remaining obstacles in his path."

The board's two-week investigation, which ended Nov. 8, did just that. The board not only concluded that staff members involved with Mr. Gilhool's application committed no improprieties, but it cleared the way for the former education secretary to begin his new career as a teacher.

As of last week, school officials said, Mr. Gilhool was still choosing a school.--jw

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