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Corruption and stupidity go together well. Sprinkle them into an hierarchy of ability and integrity and you can quickly get institutional incompetence -- where an organization composed largely of able and well intended individuals is non-the-less incapable of properly performing its intended function.

In the case of LAUSD careerism was a relatively benign factor that had malignant consequences. In LAUSD someone with a principal's certificate and at least one successful appointment as an assistant principal, provided they avoided scandal and outright criminality - for the most part - was impossible to dismiss. This was a consequence of the existence of the Principals' Union, which existed to prevent arbitrary treatment of its members. This led to the unofficial dogma that a principal's certificate was a qualification for any position in the administrative hierarchy, including Architecture and Engineering.

Combine careerism with personal loyalty - principals and loyal assistant principals often rose together, as loyalty was personal. It was not unusual to see very interesting situations, such as a ham radio enthusiast and former electronics shop teacher first becoming head of the Information Technology Division and then, despite have no construction experience beyond remodeling one of his own bathrooms, being put in charge of the construction of a new high school located over an old oil field just north of downtown LA.

Another example was a lady physical education instructor with a principal's certificate being appointed to be head of Architecture and Engineering. I could see how skills in getting teenage girls to do things they did not want to do could be turned to getting architects and engineers to do things they did not want to do, except that some of those things involved their judgements as licensed professional engineers and architects and often were a very bad idea.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Dec 6th, 2011 at 12:02:04 PM EST
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