The best of us can find humor in just about anything, at anytime, and anywhere.

Today’s example is the video for last year’s State-of-the-Schools pep rally that was held at Corona del Mar, which you can watch by clicking HERE. When you do, you will see the following copy under the video window:

 “The District is pleased to share the video culminating the 2014 event.  Please note the video is 33 minutes in length.  

“(The video shown as the feature of the Superintendent’s State of the Schools presentation at the breakfast is from minutes 7 to 28)”

Life is all math. Not trig or calculus, but simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In this case, the text read that the scripted, narrated movie shown is about 21 minutes in length. The entire video is 33 minutes.

That leaves 11 minutes. About four of those minutes were used by the superintendent, who said absolutely nothing of substance. (Not unusual, but I thought I’d point it out. Again.)

So now we’re down to – let’s see, 11 minus 4 is… seven minutes for a few other speakers, all of whom followed the super’s lead and said nothing about Common Core, grade-hacking, hot classrooms (remember, this was last year), failing Westside schools, or any of the other significant issues facing the district.

This year, they showed another taxpayer-paid-for video.

So, here’s my question… If this video propaganda is the highlight of these events, can’t we save a lot of taxpayer resources and just e-mail it to everyone and/or post it on the website? Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad they were able to raise some money for the Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation, but it seems to me that once the expenses are deducted, whatever it was they raised could have been covered by asking for a check from one of the construction companies that are benefiting from the almost half billion dollars in tax (aka bond) money. That would have allowed the administrative people who attended on your dime extra time to strategize about how to bring parents back to Adams El after the latest plan failed, or how to fix the schools on the Westside.

The challenge is that entrenched bureaucracies can’t help themselves. They have to be brought kicking and screaming to the accountability and transparency tables. And yeah, I know that they can’t ask a contractor for a check. That would be unethical.

But apparently it’s not unethical to allow thousands of Westside kids to be promoted without the skills they need for the next level, and it’s not unethical for the admin to avoid having a strategic turnaround plan in place to try to improve academic performance. Nope, that’s OK – even to the point where a couple of simple, low-cost, high return, proven methods of boosting performance that have been proposed here and elsewhere, will never happen. Why? Probably because they have been proposed here and elsewhere and not by one of the high-salaried, experienced people who know best how to teach our kids.

OBTW, I may be the only one who chuckled when I watched last year’s propaganda video: One of the narrators is ex-HR head John Caldecott, who has made accusations of improprieties against the district.

See? If you try, you can find humor in almost anything.

Steve Smith

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