Two reliable sources have confirmed that there are rats present at Ensign. Funny how the district spent money to fence in campuses but the real health threat may already be inside.

Rats are a serious health threat and there should have been warnings issued to students and parents when they were found on other campuses, but there wasn’t. It’s all part of the district’s ongoing attempts to quash any bad news.

Taking my ball and going home

The names are not important, so I will leave them out. What is important is the larger point, which is the hypocrisy of a school district that claims to want input from the community but ignores it when it appears.

You can see the indifference during the public comments section of each meeting. At a time when the trustees should be paying rapt attention to speakers – because this is their precious community input – most of them are spending a good chunk of the time checking their phones or computers or doing something other than focusing on the comments.

Earlier this years, two trustees used their comment time to complain about a lack of respect, of people not stepping up and how dare you criticize us if you are not running for office and where’s the love for all we do for the peanuts we’re paid? Respect starts at the podium where we get up to offer input that we believe will be of value to the district, to teachers, and to academic improvement.

A few meetings ago, I spoke about the terrible rise in cell phone/digital addiction. Though it has not yet been recognized in the DSM, which is the Bible of mental health diagnoses, the addiction is real and it is supported by reputable studies. I recommended adding this category to the district’s mental health program.

That night, there appeared to be some interest but I haven’t heard from anyone and have no evidence that any action is being taken or will be taken. It’s just more hypocrisy: We want community input, but not really. Or, it could be that because it wasn’t their idea, it’s not a good idea. That’s how it works inside insecure bureaucracies: Ideas from outsiders are stiff-armed because it could reveal a weakness in the operation. After all, if the idea is so good, how come none of the well-paid bureaucrats didn’t think of it?

We saw this with Swun Math. Despite repeated complaints about the program, it was continued for years until the bad news could not be contained. And when it was dumped, there was no acknowledgement that teachers and the community had led the charge – it became the district’s idea to dump it.

Recent examples include the very public online exchanges between a community member and a thin-skinned trustee. When the community member started to point out the many costly mistakes and the poor academic performance in some schools (Ex.: 83% of the 11th graders at Estancia failed to meet the 2017 Smarter Balance standard for math), the exchanges were deleted and future notifications of replies and comments ceased. It’s just a petty, small-minded response that shows the hypocrisy of claiming to want community input, then stifling it when it happens.

But, as you probably know, there is a workaround for that.

I’ll leave you with this, which recently came to my attention… A community member directed a district bureaucrat to a segment on a “60 Minutes” program that highlighted a school that used chess to teach kids a lot of important tools, including patience, critical thinking, etc.

The program is a success, not only there, but elsewhere.

But here is the reply from the district official: “It’s like I tell people all the time, it’s not about programs, it’s about people. That dude is a pied piper. Have a chess program with the wrong person and it goes no where [sic].”

That’s it. No “thanks for the input,” no “I will bring this up – maybe we can test it,” no nothing other than indifference to both the community member, his/her suggestion, and the program itself.

As for that nonsense about people vs. programs: It’s never all or nothing, never either/or.  Remember Swun math? Bad program but exceptional people…

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD