Back in February Supt. Frederick Navarro wrote to district employees about a theory that intrigued him. The theory was presented by an attorney and Navarro wrote, “Ms. Papillon posits that the students who live in poor neighborhoods, where crime and violence are regular occurrences, may in fact suffer changes to their DNA that alters the working of their brains. Furthermore, she stressed that addressing these changes to a person’s DNA can take up to three generations to correct, and then, only if you can successfully remove families from the oppressive conditions under which they live.”

Nothing in there about not knowing a lot of English. But in a recent memo to another group, Navarro blamed underperforming Costa Mesa schools on the disproportionate amount of kids who are English learners. (Tangent: Been hearing this excuse for decades. As I just wrote, if you haven’t figured out the solution by now, step aside and let someone else try.)

About the theory, he also wrote that he has “much more to learn about this theory” and that the theory is “one that we need to explore more deeply.”

So, has he? It has been eight months and to my knowledge there has been no follow-up. It’s like that desire he wrote about in November, 2015, in which he urged teachers to achieve an “amazing breakthrough” and get underperforming elementary school kids to read at grade level in less than four months. There was no plan to achieve this, no additional resources offered, it was just a wish.

If the superintendent is going to spend taxpayer time/dollars wondering about theories and asking teachers to meet a goal, then he should have the courtesy to self follow-up, so to speak, and let taxpayers know the status of whatever it is he is doing.

But in the N-MUSD, it doesn’t work that way. There is almost no accountability, thanks to a weak school board club that does not challenge the administration on anything. Think about it: When was the last time you heard a school board club member ask for a follow-up report in a school board meeting? I’ve never heard it.

One of the school board club members should ask Navarro about his further explorations on the brain theory. One of them should ask him if he achieved his amazing breakthrough. and let taxpayers know why it did or did not work.

There is a school board meeting next Tuesday night. If the Gold Ribbon report is not issued by then and if there is no explanation for the delay, do you think that any of the seven school board club members will ask about it?

I didn’t think so.

When a blogger has to be the school board follow-up resource for the taxpayers in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, something is wrong.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD