The other conspicuously absent topic during the $32 pep rally breakfast was any mention of Common Core. Instead, we keep hearing the euphemism, “Preparing our students for the 21st century” or something similar. (Tangent: In his DOTS memo last week, Supt. Navarro referred to the era as the “21st Century,” with a capital “c” which, from what I can determine, may mean he wants students to go to work for an insurance company. But, I could be wrong.)

I do not believe that the lack of references to Common Core was an oversight. The program is a lightning rod, as is Swun math, and based on the test results revealed earlier this month, it is proving to be an ineffective teaching method. After telling us for months that the district was developing its own Common Core curriculum with the implication that it would be better than all the others, it proved to be a disaster, particularly in Costa Mesa.

There was no mention of the district’s attendance problems, either. According to a story in the 9/14/14 OC Register, “For the past two years the state has released data on truancy in California schools, Newport-Mesa has had the highest rates of any district in the county by a significant amount. It means students are missing school without good excuses. In years prior, the district was among the worst districts for truancy problems. A district spokesperson said the truancy information may have been coded wrong.”

The information was coded wrong? Yeah, I guess the bad coding is why the district is focusing on attendance and, according to the Register story, “has hired 10 social workers this year to assist with the reviews and have designated liaisons in the district who could work with problem schools during the year.”

Finally, thankfully, there was no mention of the district’s absurd goal of sending every kid to college, a topic about which I wrote in my Daily Pilot column. Instead, we are hearing about “college or career” options, which is an improvement.

So, why does all this matter?

It matters because there is still no significant improvement in the academic performance at some Costa Mesa schools. That means that there will be too many children who will continue to be promoted to the next grade level unprepared for the lessons.

It matters because investors are betting heavily on young people to move into new condos in Costa Mesa. Good schools are a major benchmark for the quality of a neighborhood, even if the buyers don’t have kids. If they are going to stay in the city, move up to a single-family home and raise children here, which should be the long-term goal, these discriminating parents will not send their kids to Costa Mesa schools.

It matters because it reveals that despite a lot of Band-Aids, the administration and the board really don’t know how to turn around Costa Mesa’s schools. But, they put on a good show, including last November’s “Information Night,” which was supposed to tell everyone how well the schools were doing and was supposed to lure parents back to Adams Elementary in the Mesa Verde section of town. The Common Core scores revealed the failure.

Most important, it matters because ignoring Costa Mesa’s schools for years is injustice, plain and simple.

Steve Smith

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