“I truly treasure the opportunity to visit schools. I am committed to spending one day per week visiting campuses and, if things work out, I squeeze in two visits.” – Supt. Fred Navarro, DOTS memo, 12/4/15

The most important task of the superintendent of any school district is the constant improvement of academic performance. That’s it – that’s the bottom line. Everything else is secondary. I don’t care a whit whether a super is a nice person or runs a good meeting or brings delicious brownies on casual Friday. Show me the test scores.

Apparently, though, school visits – the job of rolling up one’s sleeves and getting deep into the heart of why the district can’t seem to crack the code on the academic performance improvement of Costa Mesa’s schools – is something that our superintendent will do “if things work out.”

The same memo goes on to report about the nice appearances of the campuses due to the “hard work and good planning of our maintenance and facilities teams.”

Here’s what: Give me almost half a billion dollars in tax money through two big bonds and I’ll produce nice looking campuses, too.

“Together our various crews keep our schools well maintained and looking great which makes for optimal learning environments.”

Really? Then please explain to taxpayers why, if Costa Mesa’s schools are so “well maintained and looking great” that they did so poorly on the 2015 Common Core tests. I’d like to know and so would thousands of other people, including the parents in Mesa Verde who are avoiding the attractive campus at Adams Elementary and are sending their kids to Newport schools, Huntington schools, or private schools.

So much for the optimal learning environment theory.

The super goes on to gush about being inspired when he visits classes and collegial support and “build[ing] our capacity in meeting the needs of our students and preparing them for an everchanging [sic] world.”

I hate to burst his bubble, but here goes… Those classroom visits? Sorry to inform the super but all he’s ever going to see is wonderfulness. That’s how it goes when the boss shows up. Everything looks great, everyone is happy, and there’s not a care in the world.

Oh, and the super wants everyone to know that the recent school productions of The Lion King were really good and wrote that the “Sonora students put on a wonderful show with their version of the life and trials of Simba. Scar even had an English accent — just like the movie version!”

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but it doesn’t appear to me that the superintendent knows that the original version of The Lion King wasn’t written by the folks at Disney but by an Englishman… a guy named William Shakespeare.

Maybe he can squeeze in some time between all those productive school visits to read the play. It’s called “Hamlet.”

Steve Smith

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