Since I have been writing about the hideous writing apparent in the weekly memos from the supervisor to the district staff (District Office to Staff aka DOTS), the writing in the last two has improved dramatically. So either the superintendent has gotten an intense, crash course in syntax, sentence structure, and other elements (eh, don’t think so), or one of these things has occurred:

  1. He has delegated the creation of the memos to someone with better command of the language.
  2. He is writing them, but someone with better command is editing them.
  3. They were ghostwritten in the first place and he started writing them. Not likely since he put his name on them and having them ghostwritten would not be ethical, but I have to include all options.

While the structure has improved, the content has not. Most of the messages are so general in tone that the rank and file in the district has no takeaways from these memos. It’s just noise and it’s not interesting.

Last Friday, for example, the memo opens up with the standard declaration that Veteran’s Day is “the perfect time to recognize the contributions made by all of our veterans and especially those who are employees of our district.” The memo goes on to highlight one employee.

I’m not buying it. It’s time to back up this talk by restoring to the district’s website the page that honored the high schoolers who chose military service instead of college or a job. Until that page is restored, there is no credibility in this patronizing attempt to honor veterans.

The rest of the memo is a pat on the back to a few teachers who made a presentation to the district’s PTA presidents that impressed the super, who wants you to know that he attends Harbor Council PTA meetings. This is the same type of worthless recapping that we get at each board meeting from the trustees when they take their personal time to tell where they’ve been and what they saw. (Hint: Just like the presentation witnessed by the super, everything is always – pick one – exciting, fabulous, wonderful, or amazing.)

Here’s what’s not exciting, fabulous, wonderful, or amazing: The lack of progress in the improving academic performance of Costa Mesa’s schools. If we had real leadership in the district, we would have read a memo on the strategic turnaround plan so that kids are no longer promoted before they’re ready.

Steve Smith

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