There’s a school board meeting tonight. No need to attend because it’ll be the usual trustee rubber-stamping of whatever is presented to them and the usual indifference during the public speaker section, even though the board claims repeatedly to want community input they really don’t and if you need proof, just watch what the trustees do when people speak. Hint: Most of them are not paying attention most of the time.

But there is also item 18.3, which is:

Approve Service Agreement with the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) for Elementary Principals and Bridges Leader Support

And here’s the astonishing detail from the agenda:

Background:
“On May 23, 2017, the Board of Education approved Bridges in Mathematics by Math Learning Center as the Kindergarten through Grade 5 core instructional materials adoption. Bridges is a comprehensive K-5 curriculum that equips teachers to fully implement the California State Standards in a manner that is rigorous, coherent, engaging and accessible to all learners.

“The curriculum focuses on developing students’ deep understandings of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex and novel problems. Bridges blends direct instruction, structured investigation, and open exploration. It taps into the intelligence and strengths of all students by presenting material that is linguistically, visually and kinesthetically rich as it is mathematically powerful.

“This curriculum replaces Swun Math, which was a flawed program that we’d still be using if we hadn’t had all those annoying complaints from parents, led by Erica Roberts and her husband, Jeff. We can’t give them any credit for this change, however, because that would mean admitting that we made a monster mistake and – duh – that will never happen here.”

OK, so I made up the last paragraph. But it is a fact that parents and teachers had to drag this administration kicking and screaming to the change. Despite years of teacher complaints, the only action taken to fix Swun Math was to throw more tax dollars at the problem. When that didn’t work, the voices became too loud to ignore.

There are a number of teachers who read this blog and I want them to know that the change in the elementary math program did not come about because the administration had an epiphany. A public records request revealed a long period of mismanagement and stalling on the math program. They can try to sweep this, too, under the rug, but there are at least a few folks who know what really went down.

The bureaucracy marches on

Then there is the approval of the contract for yet another assistant superintendent – How many does that make now??? – for $228,000 for 224 days of service. That doesn’t include all the other stuff, like 12 sick days a year, 12 months of pay if terminated without cause, a transportation allowance of $650 per month and a communication allowance of $100 per month.

I’ve left out the name because it’s not important – you could switch this name with many of the other bureaucrats and the result would be the same: High pay, low accountability. For example, which assistant superintendent reviewed the placement of expensive solar panels in prime foul ball territory at Estancia before it was presented for approval?

Which assistant superintendent then reviewed the construction of 80′ poles to stop said foul balls, then had to take it all down because – gee whiz – they forgot to advise the homeowners on the other side of the fence?

Which assistant superintendent is responsible for mismanaging the Gold Ribbon mess at Mariners? A mess, by the wall, that saw a principal thrown under the bus while everyone else ran for cover.

Which assistant superintendent reviewed Swun Math and thought it was a good program?

And so much more, but you get the picture. Actually, no, I’m not done: When was the last time you heard ANYONE in the administration or on the board take responsibility for any mistake?

Nothing has changed and nothing will change until and unless we get some new people on the school board. There are four seats up for grabs next year.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

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