Westie is Celebrating 100!

Thank you, wonderful viewers, for the incredible number of page views you have racked up right here on WestieConnect.com! Thanks to your support, and a lot of chirping, we’re celebrating our 100th post today!

Shining a light on the internal workings of Gilbert Public Schools has been a vast undertaking. There’s just so much that has been hidden for so long. As the saying goes, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. ~Louis Brandeis


Before he was a Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis published Other People’s Money, and How the Bankers Use It. Lawyer Brandeis’s book seems as descriptive of today’s recession as it was a hundred years ago.* Justice Brandeis served with distinction on the Supreme Court from 1916 until 1939, defending civil liberties and rejecting incursions of a state upon a citizen’s liberty. Another of Brandeis’s great interests was building up strong regional schools as a means of strengthening local areas against the threat of national centralization.

We really like Justice Brandeis’s philosophy, and with your support, we’ll continue spreading sunshine to bleach out some of the dark stains on the GPS reputation. It’s really a shame that this is necessary, because when we selected Gilbert as our new home in 2005, it was because of the community and the schools. Both were the best around. We’ve always believed in public schools, and we still do, although some of our frenemies say otherwise. We’re still supporting GPS and advocating for change to better ways of doing things in the district.

Maybe Gilbert just grew too fast from a small farming community to what is now the biggest town in the United States. Many of the people who have starring roles in our blog and companion website, WesternConnections, have been working in the district since the small-town days. We wonder if they have met the Peter Principle (keyboard, quit smirking) and they are now scared of being proven incompetent. Or worse. In some cases, we’ve documented some pretty bad things that go beyond incompetence and into … let’s not go that far today.

How Stuff Works aptly describes what has happened with the Gilbert Public Schools superintendency:

Many companies prefer to promote from within their hierarchy. In theory, employees promoted from within are already familiar with the inner workings of the companies and have a good grasp on the company’s goals. But the Peter Principle reveals a problem with internal promotions. As a person continues his path of promotion, he’s eventually promoted right out of his field of expertise and into a position where he’s utterly and helplessly incompetent.

The problems created by this promotion are compounded by the idea that an incompetent manager will make incompetent decisions — including deciding who to promote. Eventually, says the Peter Principle, the higher levels of a bureaucracy become populated entirely by incompetent people.

Once an employee reaches his level of incompetence, in general, he won’t be fired from the position, unless he’s what Dr. Peter dubs a “super-incompetent” — a person who’s actually defined by his mistakes. Instead, the promoted employee is usually mediocre in his new position. He’s able to cover up his incompetence and spends a lot of time doing just that.

Edward P. Lazear, a theorist at Stanford University’s graduate business school, states that some cunning employees manipulate the reward system to get a promotion. An employee with his eyes on the prize of a bigger paycheck, higher status and a corner office will work his tail off to get a promotion. After the requisite amount of time working tirelessly, the employee will most likely receive the promotion he seeks. Once the goal is attained, the employee gives himself a break, taking time to relax after a period of intense productivity. From an outsider’s view of the employee’s work history, it appears that the promotion was the trigger for a decline in work, when all the while, the productivity being demonstrated before the promotion was actually artificial. In Lazear’s view, it’s not incompetence that’s the eventual result of promotions, but an employee’s desire to work less that’s to blame for less productivity in his new, elevated position. (Sometimes, this blog just writes itself!)

As the explanation above shows, it turns out that the Peter Principle reigns at other levels of administration in GPS, as well. Just take out the description of “corner office” and substitute “principal’s office” and you’ll have a perfect illustration of those administrators who spent the minimum amount of time as a teacher (as governed by state law) before they started climbing the ladder to higher paychecks and becoming a legend in their own minds.

It’s really unfair to the people who have been working in GPS just as long as the Peter Principle guys and gals to be associated with them. There are good principals in Gilbert Public Schools, but they’re not the ones chosen by the famous “gut check” system. It would seem that these genuine leaders would resent being lumped in with the guys who were chosen because they are “a large male” or the guy whose marriage to a teacher makes up for his lack of experience or the gal who is willing to…(no, keyboard, don’t go there).

There are other inequitable stories in Gilbert Public Schools. There are really good, deserving leaders who won’t be given the chance to show their stuff because they’re not in the Good Old Boy Club. The system has been rigged to allow certain employees to “double-dip” or “retire and rehire,” keeping their jobs in which they’ve reached the Peter Principle and keeping those jobs away from employees who should be on the way up.

Maybe the best way to keep your job is Gilbert Public schools is to know where the bodies are buried and to threaten to reveal that knowledge if you don’t get what you want. What a system!

Again, thanks from Westie. We’ve got a lot of birdseed on hand and we can’t wait to listen to the newest chirps!


* Big Fat Asterisk: Couldn’t resist: 100 years of tradition unhampered by progress!

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