That’s the modern version of a Biblical exclamation but it applies to the once-mighty Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

We used to be the envy of the state. Or certainly one of a few. But in just a few years, the district has been scalded by an unprecedented string of blunders, wa$te, and mismanagement… and embarrassing test scores. Horrible test scores. See for yourself how we stack up against the other districts in the county:

District Test Scores

This chart was just provided to me by a concerned local. Yeah, that highlighted district in the middle is us.

Middlin’. That’s the best we can do. And based on the lack of concern from the superintendent, that’s the best he wants to do: I have not heard a single word of concern from him this year about the fact that 40% of our students failed to meet the 2018 state standards for English and 49% failed to meet the 2018 state standards for math.

OBTW, that 49%? In 2015 it was “only” 46%.

We are going backward in math.

So where is the outrage? Where is the superintendent who is kickin’ a** and takin’ names? Where is anyone in this administration who is stepping forward with a comprehensive, strategic plan to right the ship?

Nowhere, that’s where.

It’s a lot easier to deflect and defer. So instead of meaningful discussions of why the district isn’t doing better, we get ongoing updates about air conditioning, the start of the Estancia pool construction, or the CdM High School field construction.

All good, of course, but we need more. We need a superintendent, administration, and a trustee majority who understand that while these projects are important, they are no substitute for academic performance. And if they can’t find a way to tackle both these projects and boost academic performance, they should step aside and let someone else try.

That’s the right thing to do, but that won’t happen. The bureaucrats in the administration know a good thing when they see one: A very good salary with great benefits and a job that has no measurable goals. And if the only downside is having to listen to a few disgruntled members of the public once in awhile, well, that’s a small price to pay for the nice compensation.

Tell that to our students.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering whether those 40% and 49% figures are skewed by the usual belief/excuse that Costa Mesa’s schools are dragging down the numbers, consider this sampling of scores from a couple of top Newport schools:

  • At Corona del Mar High, 28% of the students failed to meet the 2018 state standards for English and 39% failed to meet the 2018 state standards for math.
  • At Lincoln El, 34% of the students failed to meet the 2018 state standards for English and 39% failed to meet the 2018 state standards for math.

Shocking, yes? But, hey, all of this is OK because we’re still doing better than Stockton Unified and the Arvin Union School Districts.

How much farther do we have to fall before we see a plan?

Steve Smith

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