Nothing is ever final. Nothing. Some of the decisions of the Supreme Court, which is supposed to be the last word on the issues it chooses to address, have not put to rest many of the challenges the U.S. has faced.

So calling the Mariners report “final” is not only premature, it’s also a brush-off, as though the district is telling parents, teachers, and taxpayers, “We’ll tell you when this is over and we say it’s over now.”

To be clear, this report did not address the alleged “untruths and inaccuracies,” or, as the Orange County Register called them, “lies,” that appeared in Mariners Gold Ribbon application.

After a few pages of text that looks much like a consultant’s role, that is, taking off your watch and telling you what time it is, there is this excerpt on page 6:  [Teachers report that] it has been tough to keep up with the “overwhelming” amount of assessments. 

I’ve been writing the absurd amount of assessing for about 15 years. So what has changed? Apparently, nothing. Why has nothing been done? Again, something I’ve been writing for years: Despite their professed appreciation for the work our teachers do, the administration and the school board don’t care what teachers have to say. Need proof? SWUN Math. The Mariners debacle. The current negotiations that are looking for a cheap way out of teacher compensation while the brass gets raises without any relationship to performance or accountability.

And this gem on page 7: “Staff feels their input is disregarded.”

There’s your proof. And it’s not just Mariners – there is a district-wide culture of fear, retaliation, and hopelessness (“What good does it do to make recommendations, they never listen to us anyway”) that is unlikely to go away with the appointment of N-MUSD HR [insert title here] Russell Lee-Sung as the replacement for Susan Astarita.

Other telling excerpts:

Page 7: “Staff and parents have described through anecdotal incidents, occurring throughout the year, that illustrate a breakdown of the cultural attributes that have been long-held values.”

Page 4:  “Staff feels that communication is lacking in the area of curriculum, scheduling, staff, etc. Staff indicated there are limited opportunities to ask questions about Swun Math or other school issues.”

Page 4: Additional parent support and community involvement is needed to understand the purpose and role of Swun Math in supporting the achievement of the New California Math Standards. 

Page 6: “Similarly, the staff was asked to participate in the District Priority of the Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS). Staff reports that the ODR reporting system is so difficult and time consuming that they simply cannot use it, which has contributed to a very difficult and slow going implementation of the PBIS program.”

And my favorite from page 8 (bold italics are my “Gee, what a concept!”  indications):

“Staff values:

• open and consistent communication
systems that have been in place have been useful and effective
• their long-standing traditions
• follow through on discipline
feeling listened to when input is given
• being supported by colleagues and administration in the areas of curriculum, instruction, program development and implementation and discipline
• the high level of parent support and commitment to the school”

That “transparency” one… Well, that’s not something we’ve been getting enough on Bear St., as we know from John Caldecott’s latest revelations on the compensation for one of the brass.

Despite a live assurance that it would, this report does not reflect the ire and frustration of the Mariners parents at the meeting of June 15.

So here’s the bottom line: It’s just talk. Until we hear of the plan to initiate changes, until we hear of deadlines and accountability and a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work, it just more talk, more yada yada bureaucratic wheel spinning. More fodder to fulfill some directive from the superintendent or some other higher authority.

It’s like this: The parents and teachers at Mariners did not need this report to tell them things were bad. And if the superintendent needed the report to know what was happening then he is more out of touch than I thought.

We don’t need a report, we need action – something more than a new principal.

The admin and the school board club can start by taking a huge leap forward and show parents and teachers that they are listening by ditching SWUN Math. Now. Without a “final report” to tell us what we already know.

Connecting the dots – Here’s what you need to know

Yes, here is what you need to know.


Talk is cheap. Action is priceless.

So the Gold Ribbon mess is still hanging out there and perhaps the district is feeling that maybe if the school gets a new principal that everything will be forgotten and sufficient water will have been tossed on this brush fire.

This time, however, it won’t be so easy. Either there were untruths and inaccuracies in that report or there weren’t. If there are, the person or people responsible should receive suitable disciplinary action.

If there are no untruths or inaccuracies, well, that kinda won’t fly too well with teachers and the union.

I guess we’ll just have to wait for the “final report.’

Steve Smith