Chess is a game that requires strategic thought and planning. Good chess players start each game with a specific path to victory, many moves away.

Checkers, on the other hand, requires far less critical thinking. Checkers, known as the “lazy man’s chess,” is played on the same board as chess, but it depends far more on luck than the patience and skill required for chess.

A couple of days ago, the district announced more merry-go-round principal moves among its schools. According to the Daily Pilot story, “Supt. Fred Navarro announced Julie McCormick’s transfer to staff members at the Costa Mesa school on Friday. McCormick is scheduled to become principal of Newport Coast Elementary, and Newport Coast’s current principal, Duane Cox, is being reassigned to Rea Elementary in Costa Mesa, where he will replace interim Principal Alex Morales by next school year.”

Apparently, McCormick’s transfer is not going over very well at College Park. Parents are upset because they’re losing a good principal. Teachers are upset for that reason and also because they received no advance notice or appropriate rationale for the move. In other words, they were disrespected. That’s not unusual. I’ve been saying for years, that the district talk is cheap: Despite their repeated claims about how much they appreciate the teachers in the district, the administration and the school board have a history of  disrespect in negotiations, in transfers, and in listening.

Where was the trumpeted love and appreciation for teachers when they started to raise their hands about Swun Math? It was nowhere. The administration turned a blind eye to repeated complaints and it was only after a parent championed the cause that they scrapped the program, years later, years too late.

Back to College Park… This type of poor communication and disrespect for the “process” – a term the N-MUSD bureaucrats love to toss around – is a hallmark of the ineffective leadership with which we have been saddled. Don’t count on the school board club to do anything about this, either. The superintendent is supposed to be working for and answering to the trustees, but they abdicated that responsibility a long time ago. The tail has been wagging the dog for decades.

In the DP story, school board club president Karen Yelsey is quoted as saying, “the district will work closely with parents and staff to find a new principal for College Park that meets the needs’ of the community.”

Sure they will. Just like they did when they yanked Matt Broesamle from California Elementary and sent him over to Mariners, and just like they did when they assigned Michael Halt to Estancia.

“The needs of the community.” The trustees have no more idea of the needs of the N-MUSD community than does a resident of Riverside. If they did, they would have area representation years ago, term limits years ago, and a new math program years ago.

Maybe McCormick wanted out of College Park. Who knows? But that’s hardly the point. The point is the process, and there is a process.

Unfortunately, the administration and the school board club are playing checkers at a time when we need experts at chess.

Steve Smith
N-MUSD Taxpayer