The following Facebook commentary by a parent was sent to me yesterday:

“As awful as is the environment created by our duly elected school committee (please someone explain how they made decisions in the best are [sic] of the students)… What do we do to make it as positive an experience as possible for our kids? We’ve gone to the meetings, we’ve complained and written letters to elected representatives and news outlets…

“This has succeeding [sic] in creating record levels of stress, anxiety, and depression in our kids.

“I’m done bitching or hearing all the bitching about it. Let’s find a way to improve the outcome for our kids’ sake.

“Maybe an election will help, maybe not. Sitting back and leaving it to someone else to improve our kids’ high school experience is quixotic at best and irresponsible at worst.

“Anyone up for some brainstorming?”

This reads like something from a parent here in Newport-Mesa, but it was written by a parent 3,000 miles away in Rhode Island.

This message supports what I have believed for a long time, that our dysfunctional administration and school board club are not exceptions, they are typical. They are part of a larger economic mechanism – an education establishment that is hell-bent on creating ways to disenfranchise parents and taxpayers by creating a language they cannot understand and a system that is difficult to navigate.

Outsider success in this establishment is marginal and occurs only when there is sufficient outrage or during an election year or when someone or some people get caught red-handed doing something naughty. And sometimes, getting caught doesn’t even trigger a response. John Caldecott pointed out numerous financial shenanigans which, in the private sector would have meant terminations. But in the education establishment, the wagons are circled to protect the like-minded and nothing happens or worse, as we saw here in Newport-Mesa, you get a pay raise. Or two.

Over the past five years, locals have witnessed enough administrative and school board scandal, mismanagement, and misjudgment to fill a book. It started with the indictment of ex-superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard for crimes in another district and continues with the incredible string of bungled decisions during the reign of current superintendent Frederick Navarro.

The latest one is so incredibly, amazingly, and spectacularly goofy, that a shake of the head is insufficient to ward off the wonderment: At Estancia High, the district is removing the massive poles that were erected to protect the solar panels that provide some of the power to the schools. Neighbors objected loudly enough and so down they came.

So many questions… Why were the poles installed without notifying or getting approval from the nearby homeowners? After years of worthless, dog and pony show community input meetings on other topics, the administration fails to conduct this one and ends up not only with egg on their collective faces, but no Plan B to protect those precious panels.

And why were the panels placed there in the first place? My son played baseball at Estancia and we learned after one game where NOT to park one’s car during games. (That would be the exact physical location of the current solar panels.) My late wife’s Chevy Malibu still has a small dent in the roof from that lesson learned.

According to the Daily Pilot, the original construction of the giant poles and netting was $640,014. But instead of getting protection from baseballs, taxpayers get bungling. And who’s paying for the cost of erecting and dismantling those poles? Well, let’s see… It ain’t the construction company and it ain’t the bureaucrats who made these bad decisions, so that leaves… YOU.

Yep, taxpayers once again get to foot the bill for more horrible management. Add that to the hundreds of thousands in legal fees that went down the rat hole to protect documents that were eventually made public in the John Caldecott suits and to the cost of repairing the Swun Math program over the past three years – plus much more – and you have a clear track record of incompetency.

These wastes of money are what school board club member Judy Franco said about money that was embezzled many years ago – it is money that should have gone to the education of our children.

In any other environment, heads would roll. But on September 28, the superintendent will tell us all at the state of the schools cheerleading fest that all is well. The mistakes, if they are mentioned at all, will be glossed over and less than a month later, he will be given another raise and will hear praise heaped upon him by the school board club.

Fortunately, his raise and praise will come before election day so voters will have an opportunity to witness how the system really works.

Or doesn’t, as the case may be.

Steve Smith