Friday, June 11, 2010


by Tamar Galatzan, member of the Board of Education - from her weekly newsletter |

June 10, 2010 - As I approach my third year on the Board, I can tell you that the stories about the sometimes intransigent, hard-headed, and illogical behavior of the LAUSD bureaucracy are not an exaggeration. My office has dealt with several situations in which a bureaucrat, or perhaps a group of them, blocked a particular program or policy from moving ahead. Their strategy is to hunker down, confident that they will be around long after any board member, administrator, teacher, or parent has departed.

But even if time is on their side, it doesn’t mean they must always prevail. I would like to share with you a few tips that I havedeveloped for contending with – and occasionally defeating – the infamous LAUSD bureaucracy.

(1) H ave stamina. You know they will try to outlast you, so you need to outlast them. Make a commitment for the long haul.

(2) Know your facts. It won’t come as a surprise that bureaucrats presume they know much more than you about their own areas of expertise. But if you do the research, you can knock them off stride. If someone tells you that there’s a rule, law, or board resolution on point, ask to see it.

(3) Cultivate allies. In my case, the Superintendent has been immensely helpful in persuading bureaucrats to be more accommodating. In many cases, the best option may well be the board member’s office. Names and dates, emails, and letters are all helpful when the board offices are lobbying on your behalf.

(4) Rome wasn’t built in a day, and LAUSD policies and practices sometimes can’t be changed very quickly, either. Be patient and persistent, but also understand that some issues may be totally out of the District’s hands. Even the Board and Superintendent acting cooperatively cannot change state law or waive a federally-mandated procedure overnight.

In a district this size, we need vigilant, creative parents, teachers, administrators, and staff to help us eliminate impediments to success.

We have victories both small and large under our belts, but there’s always a new issue to tackle.

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