In the current online edition of the Daily Pilot, there is an excellent column by Patrice Apodaca that provides an overview of the district’s failed attempt to restructure its math program.

Here’s the link:

I found the key paragraph to be:

“Rather than evolving, slowly but surely, toward a more effective, equitable and reliable system, we too often find that education is a jumbled, incoherent mix of competing philosophies, dubious attempts at progress and unshakable dogma.”

There is an education establishment in the U.S. whose interests are not always aligned with academic success. These people and these enterprises are more concerned with making money through book sales, software sales and implementation, consulting, and much more.

And after all this time, what do we have to show for it? From the Pew Research Center last year:

“One of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.”

It is unlikely that we will see any significant change in these rankings anytime soon. But we can make a local difference. We can improve academic performance, increase teacher satisfaction (a key to academic success, BTW), and provide a safe and enriching school environment and we can do that with ease.

It starts by borrowing and following a simple rule from the business world. I have written that I do not believe that a school district can be run just like a business, but I also believe there are business principles that can be applied here to help improve things.

One of them relates to performance: When a corporation is failing, you replace all of the decision-makers.

I have no hope that the U.S. rankings will change dramatically anytime soon. But we can make a difference locally by electing new trustees to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District school board.

The current crew has had their chance and they have failed in the key areas of accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility.

It’s time for someone else to try. More on the candidates after the official filing deadline expires on Friday.

Steve Smith