How the Personnel Commission Came to be...
A Little History
Like many other merit systems throughout the United States, the Personnel Commission of the Los Angeles Community College District had its roots in the excesses of political patronage. The year was 1933: an election year for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Four candidates, who were known during and after their campaign as the “Four Horsemen”, were running for seats on the Board of Education. Rumor had it that these four candidates had promised jobs to many people in exchange for their political support. In an open letter to employees of the District, these candidates made the following promise:
“We wish to assure you that if we are elected to membership on the Board of Education, we intend to give you fair and just treatment. We expect to make only such changes as we find necessary in order to secure honest and efficient service. We do not believe in the ‘spoils system’. We are opposed to all forms of political coercion in the schools; we have not promised jobs or promotions to anyone.”
The following are two accounts of events following the election of the Four Horsemen.
“Immediately upon their installation in office, there were wholesale dismissals among non-certificated employees, chiefly among the custodians … Estimates on the number dismissed vary from five hundred to eighteen hundred.”
“When these Board members took office, they began to make good on their campaign promises. We had some 700 people fired out of the Business Division in 1933. The halls were filled and the sidewalks were filled. They had to have traffic policemen to control all the people who were there demanding jobs that had been promised to them. For days, strangers wandered through the offices … I came a year after that and the employees by that time had decided that they needed and would work toward obtaining a merit system.”