A recent story in the OC Register reported that, “Three of the top 10 paid school employees in Orange County in 2015 came from the same school district – Newport-Mesa Unified – and all 10 received more than $300,000 in salary and benefits.”

But it’s worse. Two of the top three are in the N-MUSD, and the third is number 7 though it should not really be in the top ten. Number 7 is John Caldecott, who is no longer employed at the N-MUSD but whose salary made the cut because of his payouts. But the reason Caldecott should not be on the list is not because of his earnings but because he should not have been fired in the first place. And he certainly should not have been fired without a hearing before the school board club.

Caldecott was a highly respected ten-year employee who was fired via text and e-mail without a chance to tell his side of the story. And when he asked the school board club to address them directly, they said no. Denying Caldecott his day in court, so to speak, is one of the more shameful moments in all the years I have been reporting on the school board club.

N-MUSD employees, are you listening and learning anything from this? Or perhaps you really believe that it will never happen to you…

N-MUSD Deputy Super Paul Reed checks in at #2 on the list with a salary and benefits combo totaling $373,699.50. Reed’s package includes the money he has been paid not to retire. His boss, Supt. Frederick Navarro, makes less than he does. Navarro came in third on the list with a salary and benefits combo totaling $370,400.50. 

Another voice, another idea

Local activist Sandy Asper penned a column in the Daily Pilot in which she urged the school board club to “consider carefully listening to teachers, parents, and the community,” and more. You can read it here: http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/opinion/tn-dpt-me-1120-mailbag-20161119-story.html

She writes some more of that “logic” stuff, too, including avoiding “the dog-and-pony treatment when they go to a school.”

That show is why I have declined school visit invitations over the past few years. I’ve done a few and they are always the same: Everything is wonderful.

Say, what?

In one episode of the old TV series “Cheers,” the dumb-as-a-rock bartender, Woody Boyd, wins a seat on the city council without taking a stand on anything. All he and his opponent do are cough up meaningless sound bites that are so general they could apply to almost anything. If you’ve seen the excellent movie, “Being There,” starring Peter Sellers, you know what I mean.

And so it is at the N-MUSD. A recent explanation of the progress of the Swun math debacle was so full of bureaucratic nonsense that it made me laugh. I wonder – is there a class somewhere where this is taught? Anyway… one reader called it “edubabble,” which is perfect, absolutely perfect.

In an interview many years ago, billionaire Ross Perot was asked about the secret to his success. Among other things, he said that when he first started out, he never bid jobs by the hour, but gave one quote for the work. He reasoned that if he finished early, he would make more per hour and be able to move on faster to the next job.

He also said that he hired people who were smarter than he. And he admitted that sometimes it was frustrating because these really smart people would talk to him in language he couldn’t understand. So, he used to say to them, “Tell it to me like I’m 12 years old.”

I have used that story for years in my customer service training program, particularly when I am training a medical staff because they have a tendency to use medical jargon that is foreign to the rest of us. “Tell it to your patients as though they are 12 years old.”

That’s not an insult. Ross Perot is no dummy but he wants that. I’m no Woody Boyd, but sometimes I like it, too. Most major publications are written at that level.

I would like to see the N-MUSD create a rule or regulation requiring all communication with the community to be void of acronyms (unless they are initially spelled out), free of professional terms, and condensed to the least amount of words possible without affecting the meaning.

Ah, but that will never happen. The education establishment likes all the edubabble because it’s their way of demonstrating their supposed superior knowledge. It reinforces the “them vs. us” mentality and is meant to make the rest of us feel a sense of awe at the amazing knowledge they possess.

Why say the two syllable word “person” when you can say the five syllable word “individual?” Why say “at this time” when you can say, “at this point in time?” And why say it in 50 words, when you can say it in 500, something I’ve pointed out before.

Why? Because you really don’t care whether your target audience understands a word of it, that’s why.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD