On the same day that I posted a post about Supt. Frederick Navarro’s commitment to learn much more about a theory by a lawyer who claims that students in impoverished neighborhoods “suffer changes to their DNA that alters the working of their brains,” two people wondered whether this theory was racist. One of those was posted online and the other came from someone whose opinion I highly respect – someone who works with the mentally ill and who knows about brain physiology.

You can read the post by clicking here: https://stevesmith71https://stevesmith714.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/supt-to-staff-brains-of-costa-mesas-students-may-be-responsible-for-failing-schools/

I don’t know if the theory has a racist angle, but I do know this: It is deeply flawed and a blind man could spot it in a minute.

But Frederick Navarro doesn’t see the flaws so instead of spending his time in a constructive manner by, among other things, using the best practices of failing schools that have turned around, he claims that he has “much more to learn about this theory” and that the theory is “one that we need to explore more deeply.”

No, “we” do not need to explore more deeply,” “we” need to develop a comprehensive, strategic, long-term plan to fix Costa Mesa’s schools.

If Papillon’s theory is right, does Costa Mesa’s Westside qualify as an area of “students who live in poor neighborhoods, where crime and violence are regular occurrences?” 

Gosh, that description of a neighborhood in Costa Mesa doesn’t say much for the city council or the police dept., both of which are in charge of keeping the peace over there and keeping citizens safe.

I don’t believe that Costa Mesa’s deep Westside is the stuff of Papillon’s theory. But it fits nicely with the indifferent attitude of Frederick Navarro and the school board – where hands are thrown up in the air while proclaiming that the problems are someone else’s fault.

Whatever is wrong with Costa Mesa’s schools is not the fault of the brains of the students, it is the fault of an administration and a school board that just doesn’t know what to do and hasn’t got the courage to admit it.

So where is the brain physiology theory about bureaucrats who let young kids get promoted for years without the proper skills for the next grade level? Why don’t we have a brain study of why trustees know that failing schools in other parts of the U.S. have been turned around but refuse to apply those principles here in Newport-Mesa? And while we’re at it, how about the brain physiology of trustees who not only don’t know how to turnaround schools, they refuse to let anyone else try?

It seems to me that we need less talk about theories and more action on best practices. It really is that simple.

Steve Smith