If I described a high school campus on which there was police presence, drug-sniffing dogs, high fences around the perimeter, and a suspension of a student’s right to privacy, you’d probably think I was describing some low performing district somewhere else in the county or the state.
But you’d be wrong, for all of this is happening right here in Newport-Mesa.
While we were enjoying 500 stations on our cable service, schools in our district started getting inspected by drug-sniffing dogs.
While we were busy texting and e-mailing, posting on Facebook, and otherwise enjoying the convenience of our smart phones, fences were (or are being) erected around our schools.
While we were shopping for bigger, brighter, smarter HD TVs, the police arrived on campuses as “Student Resource Officers.”
And while we were numbing ourselves with wine, cocktails or perhaps another form of anesthetic, courts allowed student cell phones to be searched, even when the phone is not directly related to a possible crime.
Congratulations, everyone, we have the educational environment we deserve. We deserve it because few of us really care about what is going on in our schools. We put misplaced trust in administrators whose first consideration is not improved academic performance, but preservation of the status quo and the feathering of their own nests. If you need any proof, just look at the strange case of John Caldecott on which I have been reporting for eight months, or the insulting pay raise the N-MUSD bigwigs handed out to themselves at the summer break.
Look at the low morale of teachers and the insane amount of testing and reporting that is required of a teacher in 2015. They are connected.
Look at the disgraceful lack of effort to make any substantive, long-term changes to the elementary schools on Costa Mesa’s Westside, where bright kids and excellent teachers wait for someone – anyone – in the district to crack the academic performance code.
Look at school board meeting after school board meeting in which approval of staff recommendations with barely any questioning is so assured that even Las Vegas wouldn’t offer odds against it at any price.
Look at the board, which has four members whose contributions this year amount to zero. I may not always agree with the other three, but at least they’re asking a few questions and trying to get a little momentum going.
Look at the head of all this, the Superintendent, who seems to believe that old saying, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.” We do not have a leader in that position, we have a career bureaucrat who does not hold others accountable because he would then have to hold himself accountable, too.
Look at the general lack of interest in the disbursement of the district’s whopping $262 million budget. At last week’s meeting, there were perhaps eight or nine residents there to witness the rubber stamping.
The headline of this post is misleading. None of this happened while we were sleeping, it happened right under our noses while we were wide awake because we were too busy with more important things.