It’s human nature. Most of us are trying hard each day to avoid confrontation and to avoid confronting the real problems that we face. So instead of dealing with those problems, we discuss symptoms. Big difference.

Discussing symptoms, creating bogeyman on whom we can blame our troubles, and avoiding the responsibility of our actions are all human nature, but they are not the habits of healthy people.

The problem is that most of us are stuck in that unhealthy universe. Why? Because it’s easier than the alternative and most of us take the path of least resistance whenever possible.

So here is the point today: Steve Smith is not the problem, he is a symptom. If the school district administration and/or the school board would take responsibility for the years of failure of Costa Mesa’s Westside schools – failure I’ve been documenting for a very long time – Steve Smith would be writing instead about the rascals in Sacramento, Washington, or Moscow.

It is of great concern to me that those who would criticize me for my criticism see no problem in, for example, the utter disregard of Trustee Walt Davenport toward the failing schools in his zone. Davenport gets a pass for doing less than zero, but I’m a mean person for criticizing him for it. That’s the topsy-turvy world of human nature: Emotional approaches win over rational thought almost every time. Symptoms and bogeymen trump real problems.

I realize that my years of haranguing the school district and administration have created the perfect foil for the very people I criticize. I have become an easy target because I’m vocal about the major injustice that the school district has perpetuated on Costa Mesa’s Westside. That the administration and the board seem not to care and have no shame or conscience about the significant and ongoing achievement gap in Costa Mesa should be of great concern to all of us.

That the administration and the board may see me as nothing more than a nuisance is of no consequence to me. I don’t care about their opinion of me. I’m not trying to win friends. All I want is an end to the injustice that is the disparity in the academic performance between the schools in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. All I want is for at least one person of responsibility to step forward, own the problem, and offer a long-term strategic plan to try to improve academic performance in those failing schools. It’s not asking too much – that’s their job.

What I care about is what too many of us ignore on our march to the end: If I did not do what I do, if I did not at least try to right this one wrong, I would regret it to my last day. I may fail, but at least I will have tried. That, I can live with.

This one’s for you. ; )

Steve Smith

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