At the almost-secret special school board club meeting of March 2 (that’s the one for which they posted the meeting notice 23 hours ahead of the deadline), trustees Yelsey and Snell made a feeble attempt to chastise a speaker who came to offer the community input they claim to want so much. At the end of the meeting, Snell did it again as she stormed out of the meeting on her way to the closed door session that was billed as “Public Employee Evaluation: Title – Superintendent” but we were then told that it wasn’t; that it was just the start of a process and blah, blah, blah, or something or other or whatever.

As though the explanation made a difference…

Here is my reply to any trustee or to the superintendent or to anyone who questions the motives of the growing group of people who are fed up with the failure of the trustees to succeed in their mission:

These are the 2017 Smarter Balanced test results for Costa Mesa schools. The numbers show the percentage of students who FAILED to meet the state standard for english and math. Included in these results is the category “standard nearly met,” which is a fake category – there is no “almost.” Either you meet the state standards or you don’t. That “nearly met” category is just a way to soften the blow and reduce outrage. Besides, in too many cases, eliminating the “nearly met” category doesn’t leave good scores.

Adams                                                 49                    60
TeWinkle                                            59                    69
California                                           19                    38
College Park                                       70                    74
Rea                                                       82                    83
Wilson                                                 68                    69
Whittier                                              77                    84
Victoria                                               60                    65
Estancia High (11th grade)             51                    83
Killybrooke                                        32                    43
Davis                                                   22                    27
Paularino                                           50                    55
Pomona                                              65                    66
Sonora                                                29                    51
Kaiser                                                 33                    37
Costa Mesa High                              55                     66

Not exactly the district’s finest hour, eh? So why is this happening and why has it continued to happen for decades?

Maybe, as the superintendent pondered two years ago, it is the fault of the students. Here’s what I wrote in this blog in February, 2016:

“According to Frederick Navarro, Papillon offered that, ‘Apparently the conditions associated with poverty, micro aggressions [sic], violence and discrimination may cause physiological changes in children that not only affect the current generation, but also may affect several generations that follow.’

“Supt. Frederick Navarro states that  ‘Ms. Papillon posits that the students who live in poor neighborhoods, where crime and violence are regular occurrences, may in fact suffer changes to their DNA that alters the working of their brains. Furthermore, she stressed that addressing these changes to a person’s DNA can take up to three generations to correct, and then, only if you can successfully remove families from the oppressive conditions under which they live.’”

He closed by writing that he has “much more to learn about this theory” and that the theory is “one that we need to explore more deeply.”

Since then, as you probably guessed, the theory has not been explored more deeply or even at all. That’s probably because it’s nonsense.

So, let’s see, we could blame the scores on the DNA theory. Yeah, right. Maybe it’s the school conditions! Nah, can’t be – the school board club has been spending almost half a billion of your tax dollars over the past 18 years fixing campuses and facilities. Can’t be that. Wait! Maybe it’s the teachers. Nope. We’ve got great teachers in this district. I know from personal experience and also because the district officials keep telling us so.

Hmmm. So, let’s see… If it’s not the students and it’s not the facilities and it’s not the teachers, then it must be… The leadership.

Here’s what: This board has had plenty of time and opportunities to fix this problem: Thirty-something years for Judy Franco, twenty-something for Fluor and Black, and so on.

The problem has been going on so long that the kindergarteners who were in our schools when Franco, Fluor, and Black were elected now have kids of their own. And those kids don’t have the same ESL challenges as their parents so stop saying that’s the reason. Those kids know English quite well enough to meet the state standards.

The trustees don’t know how to improve these scores and, worse, they refuse to let anyone else try. So in the meantime, as usual, kids pay the price.

They don’t care and here’s proof

At a school board club meeting in January, I told the trustees straight out that they were not getting all of the information they needed from the administration in order to make the best decisions.

Not one of the board members chose that night to ask me something like, “What do you mean?” or “Can you expand on that statement?”

At the almost-secret special meeting on March 2, I told the five board members present that I had just received two fresh reports of rats on campuses. Not one of the board members present chose to ask me which campuses reported rats so that they could take care of the problem immediately.

Do they want rats on campuses? No, they don’t.

Their failure to ask me about the information they are not getting or about the rats is due to a long-standing protocol of disregarding public input, despite their claims that input is so valued and whatever.

They ignored input on the Collegiate Calendar, they ignored it on the area maps, and they ignored it when a parent started to question whether the elementary math program was in the best interests of students. (The parent did not give up. That math program was recently dumped because it was not in the best interests of students to keep it.)

And they failed to ask me about the rats.

Nothing will change. They’ll still hold those fake community meetings that are promoted old school and entirely wrong and they’ll continue to suffer through the public comments section of school board club meetings until they can get to the rubber stamping portion of the show.

Nothing will change until we elect new trustees to the school board, starting this November. Four seats are up for grabs.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD