A merit system is a method of personnel management designed to promote the efficiency
and economy of the workforce and the good of the public by providing for the selection
and retention of employees, in-service promotional opportunities, and other related
matters, on the basis of merit and fitness.
There are more than 100 merit system school and college districts in California which
employ almost 60 percent of the total classified (non-teaching) school employees in
Hiring and promoting employees on the basis of ability, with open competition in initial
Providing fair compensation on the basis of like pay for like work.
Retaining employees on the basis of performance, correcting inadequate performances,
and separating those whose inadequate performance cannot be corrected.
Training employees as needed for high-quality performance.
Assuring fair treatment of applicants and employees in all aspects of personnel administration
without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual
orientation, or marital status, and with proper regard for their privacy and constitutional
rights as citizens.
Protecting employees against political coercion and prohibiting use of official position
to affect an election or nomination for office.
History of the Merit System
Prior to the adaptation of a merit system, a “spoils system” was widely used in local,
state and federal government to fill public offices. This flawed system peaked its
popularity in 1841 where thousands of unqualified people were employed into government
positions based on their connections. Shortly after the Civil War came the realization
that qualified workers needed to be hired to keep up with the growth of the government.
Efforts of reformers to set regulations to public service office appointments were
authorized in 1871 but failed after a couple of years. The merit system reemerged
in 1883 as a result of a public demand for civil service and the great efforts of
President Theodore Roosevelt. The Civil Service Act of 1883 also known as The Pendleton
Act deemed it unlawful to practice patronage appointments of government positions.
In the following years, state and local civil service systems flourished, but it was
not until 1936 that the first merit system law for school districts was established.
California became the leader in the national movement toward merit systems in school
systems where, as a result of a disgraceful patronage system in one of our larger
school districts, more than 700 employees were fired on the day after an election
to make room for political "spoilsmen."
The merit system was first adopted in Santa Monica College as part of the Santa Monica
City Schools by the Board of Education on May 9, 1938.
Merit Rules Advisory Committee
A committee consisting of stakeholders dedicated to keeping the Merit Rules of
Santa Monica College current and equitable.