The Good

The district has reposted the page honoring our military heroes – those students who chose to serve in the armed forces instead of going to college or learning a trade – or anything else – out of high school.

This page is unique in the country. The N-MUSD may not be the only school district with such a page, but it was not among the pages of the websites of the many big city school districts I reviewed when I proposed this idea a few years ago.

There is no dedicated page listing students who have been accepted to colleges, and no page listing students who are going straight to work or are turning pro (athlete) – only a page honoring the bravest of all and that’s the way it should be.

I finally received an answer to my question of Sept. 22. Got it today. The delay was explained to me – the question was answered 1o days ago – and I believe it so that is the end of that saga.

Over the years, the district has done a good job of responding to my inquiries and I do not have any complaints about the communication. Until today – see “The Bad.”

One of the three Golden Bell awards just received by the N-MUSD is for NMUSD’s Psychological Support Services. From the website: “Psychological Support Services programs provides support for educationally related mental health services and also supports the social and emotional well-being of students by providing support to students struggling with homelessness, drugs, bullying and other related circumstances.”

What we don’t know is how many kids are walking around school each day carrying burdens we can’t imagine. Worse, they have no place to turn. Psychological Support Services may not catch them all, but it is here and it will surely do some good. This is good – really good.

The Bad

I sent an e-mail today to Russell Lee-Sung asking him to answer my question. Lee-Sung used to be the head of HR – with all the musical chairs going on these days, I’m not sure of his exact title. Anyway…

Taking the lead of his boss, Supt. Frederick Navarro, who never met an issue he couldn’t delegate, Lee-Sung chose not to answer my question himself, choosing instead to hand it off to a subordinate.

The funny part is – OK, the tragic part – is that the answer is as I described in a previous post… Something very simple. In the time it took Lee-Sung to delegate the answer, he could have done it himself. But we have developed – or, rather, the supt. has developed, a coterie that thrives on staying as far away from controversy as possible and who are attracted to all the trappings of an executive position and we all know that big executives don’t reach out to the common folk.

Supt. Frederick Navarro has known since April that Deputy Super Paul Reed is retiring in December but he chose not to make the news public until last month. Why? Who knows – probably one of those big executive decisions the rest of us are not privvy to.

But the questions remain: In April, did we stop paying Reed not to retire? The big executive thing for Navarro to do would have been to run over to HR as soon as he heard the news and order them to stop payment on Reed’s next “please don’t retire” check. So did he? Taxpayers deserve to know.

And if Navarro didn’t stop the payments – or do whatever he had to do to get them stopped – did he start in motion a mechanism to get the money back from Reed? Taxpayers deserve to know the answer to this one, too.

The Ugly

In a recent memo titled “Facts Regarding Misinformation,” Navarro writes about Rea Elementary in “Low scoring schools/populations” and there is an attempt to tie the low scores to the presence of poverty and English language-learning kids. Again.

So, I’ll state it again: Other schools have cracked this code. I pointed out one four years ago during the search for a replacement for Jeff Hubbard. Local, too. If you can’t or won’t improve the academic achievement of these kids while they’re still in elementary school, get out of the way and let someone else try.

Free speech is nowhere to be found at school board meetings because it’s not supposed to be a “political forum.” But it’s OK for the school board club to express support for a politically-charged proposition and it’s OK for students to walk around campus in “Dump Trump” t-shirts. So does that mean that school campuses are a legitimate political forum?

The problem here is not the endorsement of candidates or a proposition or Dump Trump t-shirts. The problem is a lack of written standards that are consistently maintained, regardless of who is violating them. (That includes those pesky high-profile students and every football player) The admin and the school board club like it this way because it enables them to bend and twist the rules according to the situation. Put it in writing and they’re stuck with it. Can’t have that.

Gold Ribbon report that was promised to us in “early October.” ‘Nuff said.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD