Regular readers will recall that I have frequently noted that the school board club’s disinterest in keeping you informed includes a conscious effort to avoid penning commentaries in the Daily Pilot. Until today, it had been well over five years since the last commentary written by a sitting school board club member.

Today’s is by Vicki Snell and it reminded me that as much as I dislike the arrogance of silence, I understand why they don’t contribute.

In her commentary, Snell makes the case against term limits by declaring that the recent push by school board club candidates is little more than an election year “campaign ploy.” She also seems to tiptoe a couple of times into opposition against election by area instead of district-wide.

My first thought was whether Snell had cleared this commentary with club member Karen Yelsey, who not only made term limits a major campaign statement ten years ago, but also proposed term limits as a club member. When that was shot down, she recommended that the question be put to voters on the ballot for the November, 2008 elections. The other club members said no to that, too.

Snell writes, “Good governance means being able to ask tough questions and have honest dialogue based on mutual respect about what is in the best interest of all children.”

I have attended most of the school board meetings for the last two years and intermittently prior to my running for a seat on the board in 2014. I have never heard a school board member ask a tough question and in the last two years, I can count on one hand the number of times a vote was not unanimous – that’s “rubber stamping” to most readers. (BTW, Yelsey ran against that, too.) That behavior is not in the best interest of all children – or taxpayers.

Justice is in the best interest of all children. Is that not what we want them to believe we exercise? Of course it is. So where is John Caldecott’s justice from this seven person court that refused to hear his side of the story and which subsequently triggered hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal fees?

Where is the best interest of all children in the many years of underperforming Costa Mesa schools? Adams El, walking distance from Snell’s Mesa Verde home is the poster child for the school parents avoid by sending their kids elsewhere.

Where is the best interest of all children when money that should go to educate them goes instead to paying a bureaucrat not to retire – as if he is the only person on the planet who can do this job. That’s on top of the multimillions we pay the rest of the administration.

And where is the best interest of all children when teachers are forced to teach a math program that they cannot justify, that parents don’t understand, and which may turn kids off from math at a time in their lives when they should be embracing it?

But here’s the topper: “Arbitrarily limiting capable leadership while isolating representation into narrow geographic interest groupings is not the way to go.”

Yes, it is. Why? Because the current system is broken. I could spend another 20 minutes typing the list of scandals and mismanagement episodes credited to the worst administration I’ve seen in 30 years as a resident and in almost 20 years of covering school issues. From the prom draft to unwarranted raises, from the Timothy Lai break-in to a rodent infestation at CM High and more, this band of Keystone Kops hasn’t a clue as to what “capable leadership” looks like.

Then there is the Mariners debacle. (BTW… still waiting for that report from the outside investigators.)

What Snell fails to mention is that she, too, is a candidate for the school board club and perhaps the reason that this is the first commentary in over five years is because she needs some publicity.

The lack of accountability demanded by the current school board club members is astonishing. If Snell has done anything in this commentary, it has been to provide even more support for both area representation and term limits.

And finally, this… What Snell fails to grasp is the deeper meaning behind the latest push: If everything were going well, there would be no demand for term limits.

But it’s not and we are.

Steve Smith

 

 

 

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