The Common Core concept wasn’t bad, really, but unfortunately the execution was handed over to profiteers and bureaucrats, neither of which has any sincere interest in academic performance.

(For the record, any state or school district that is truly interested in improving academic performance would scrap just about everything involved in the current teaching model. It is antiquated and ineffective, but because it serves the status quo, there is almost no chance of any meaningful education reform anytime soon.)

A simple example is one that I reported on this blog a few weeks ago. Multiple reliable studies have shown that kids who learn from stand-up desks in classrooms achieve higher academic success. Subsequently, there are two astounding items to note:

First, the use of stand-up desks is a best practices approach to learning, that is, it is proven – no need to experiment or test it. It works! So, you may be asking, why hasn’t anyone in the administration or on the school board brought it up for discussion? I can only guess, of course, but I believe this low cost/high return idea has not been mentioned because despite their rhetoric, the administration and the board really don’t care much about the academic performance of the Westside schools, where improvement is most needed. Trustee Walt Davenport, in whose area these schools are located, should be pounding the dais demanding action on stand-up desks to help kids. Instead he just voted to double the bus fees for kids there – kids who can least afford a 100% increase.

Second, with all of their so-called expertise, resources, and attendance at local and statewide meetings, this idea, as well as at least a dozen other proven methods of improved performance, comes not from anyone in the administration or on the board, but from yours truly, a private citizen working his computer and telephone. Which begs the question of the high-salaried people on Bear St.: What is it that they do all day?

Seriously. At the end of the day, these people are charged with providing our local kids with a good education – all of them. But instead of a strategic, comprehensive solution to the challenges on the Westside and other problems facing the district, these people chase the low-hanging fruit that makes them look good and makes for nice press releases offering the illusion of progress.

This is not about stand-up desks (Though, really, someone on the board should champion this), it is about accountability and communication, of which there is almost none these days.

There are police and drug-sniffing dogs on our campuses, all of which will be soon be surrounded by steel security fences. Students have no right of protection to the contents on their cell phones. In another country in another time, it would remind you of a scary era. But this is life in the new Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

The administration works hard to control our kids, but who is controlling the administration?

Steve Smith

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