A friend of mine passed away last week after a lingering illness. I’d known Chris for about 40 years – he was one of our group of seven guys and was considered the older, wiser one.

Chris was a Vietnam War veteran who had trouble getting proper care through the Veteran’s Administration. He deserved better treatment than he got from the U.S. government. IMO, anyone who has been discharged honorably from the armed forces should be guaranteed free health care for life. Give the vets a trackable card that allows them to walk into any medical facility anywhere in the U.S. and get care without having to pay a dime.

But that’s just me. The shabby treatment of so many veterans shows that a lot of people in power don’t care enough to help them.

Oh, yeah, there is a school board meeting tonight. More of the same rubber stamping, everything is wonderful approach to education and spending that we’ve seen for decades now.

Except that everything is not wonderful. The California Department of Education recently found that the N-MUSD failed in its requirement that “school personnel take immediate steps to intervene when it is safe to do so and when he or she witnesses an act of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying.”

The notice and the policy changes that are occurring as a result of the investigation are buried in the agenda and will be rubber stamped with no apology for failing to meet this requirement. There will be no discussion of it at all.

So as long as we’re on the subject of discrimination, where’s the lack of attention to Costa Mesa’s Westside schools – you know, the ones that have been floundering for years due to neglect by a string of superintendents and, with a few exceptions over the years, a school board that cares more about being a school board club member than doing something meaningful to improve academic performance in those Costa Mesa schools.

Instead, we get Trustee Walt Davenport representing the students and their families. Davenport hasn’t lifted a finger to do anything meaningful to improve performance. His presence on the board is hurting these students and their teachers and he should either start demanding a plan or he should resign.

But he won’t do either.

Costa Mesa’s academic performance problems are not limited to the Westside. Walking distance from the home of trustee Vicki Snell is Adams Elementary in Mesa Verde, a very nice neighborhood with an elementary school that does not meet the academic expectations of the parents there. So, they send them elsewhere.

What is it going to take to turn these schools around? First and foremost, it will take election to the school board by Area, not through the at-large process we now have. All over the region, government bodies are going this route in order to provide more direct and appropriate representation of constituencies. But not one trustee has the courage or the decency to raise the issue.

And why should they? As long as there is no court order to do it, they’ll just go on with business as usual with no attention to the plight of the students and teachers.

One thing they are good at is passing out tax dollars to administrative people who already make too much and have no accountability for their performance. Just think… Some people in the administration make more money each year than the governor of the entire state of California.

Rest in peace, Chris.

Steve Smith