Tomorrow night is the last school board club meeting before returning in August. When the club and the highly-paid bureaucratic experts with 224-day work schedules return in August, they are banking on everyone having forgotten the absurd number of blunders this crew has created over the past school year, culminating in the tragic waste of two years of effort to revise the district’s math program.

How did that happen? How is it that over the course of two years, these so-called experts could get it so wrong that even the school board club said, “Thanks, but no thanks”….

This happened because the club has been asleep at the wheel for too many years. They have relied on people who do not have the best interests of students at heart but serve only to carry out the wishes of the superintendent.

These people – these “experts” – are not bad people, they’ve just lost their way. Call it a severe case of mission drift. In situations in which you and I would raise our hand and say, “Um, excuse me, but this isn’t right,” or “There’s a better way to do this…” these people defer. They’re not bad people, and they’re not stupid.

They saw John Caldecott raise his hand and get fired for it. An example was made of Caldecott and you can bet that 3.5 years later, his fate is still on the minds of administrators in the district.

Same can be said of Laura Canzone, the former principal at Harbor View, who was thrown under the bus during the Gold Ribbon scandal, despite the fact that the superintendent’s signature is also on the GR application.

So here we are at the end of the school year. A great time to send a letter to parents to let them know that there won’t be any changes to the math program until the staff gathers “additional input.”

Here’s the letter that was just sent by the district:

Dear NMUSD Parents,

On June 26, 2018, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Board of Education directed staff to consider additional input before making a final recommendation for the District’s Middle and High School Math Course Pathways for the 2018/19 school year.

Based on the Board’s direction, a determination has been made to maintain the current middle and high school math course pathways. An Enhanced Math 7/8 course will continue to be offered to students who earned qualifying scores (80% or better) on the seventh grade Acceleration Determination Point (ADP) Exam. The ADP was administered this past semester to sixth grade students. 

Newly adopted middle school math materials will be utilized in Math 7, Math 8, and Enhanced Math 7/8 courses. Students successfully completing Enhanced Math 7/8 will be placed in Math I as eighth grade students. Traditional and enhanced High School Math I, II, and III pathways will also be maintained for the 2018/19 school year.

Notification to families of student results on the ADP and recommended seventh grade math course placement will be mailed to parents by the end of July.

While NMUSD will maintain current secondary math pathways for the 2018/19 school year, the District will continue to assess and research instructional practices, materials, and course pathways that will better support all students meeting the expectations of the state standards for mathematics.

For additional information, please visit   

Me again. Let’s start with the composition of this letter: There are no less than five grammatical errors, and that’s what I counted without a formal proofreading effort. There should be zero. Any communication originating from a school district headquarters should be perfect.

Once again, more important than what the letter says is what it doesn’t say. It does not say, for example, that it was the community that forced the district to shelve the program they presented on June 26. Too bad, because that is a lost opportunity: They could have written something like “We listened!…” and let everyone know that despite comments to the contrary, they really do care about what taxpayers have to say.

They don’t really care, but they missed the opportunity to spin it that way.

So, it’s back to the drawing board, but that’s OK because they know that when they reconvene before the start of the 2019-2020 school year, you will have forgotten the math mess the calendar committee sham, the fake area map committee, the Estancia poles, Estancia pool and Estancia stink, the failure to move the needle on the CdM sports complex, and all of the other incredibly bad decisions made this school year.

They know that you will have forgotten the incivility of Trustee/Club President Vicki Snell, whose knee-jerk reaction to any taxpayer opposition is to shut or shout ’em down.

They know that you will have forgotten the enormous waste of your tax dollars on record spending for attorney fees.

And much more.

They know this because this has been their M.O. for decades.

But not this year. This year, there is a dedicated and growing group of people who are fed up and will be working hard to replace as many of the four trustee seats up for grabs with people who want to restore accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility.

And if they don’t elect all four to get a majority, they won’t stop. They’ll continue to work over the next two years to get two more elected in November, 2020.

They need your support, if only to take a moment to “like” their Facebook page. To learn more:

Newport-Mesa Community for Students – Facebook:

Newport-Mesa Community for Students – Website:

John Caldecott:

Costa Mesa Brief:

Steve Smith