Heard Enough Backseat Driving

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In response to “Getting what we deserve”, Letters, in the June 23 issue.

I remember a singular time years ago when my father, after listening to a fair and equal vote from a car full of kids, finally allowed me to take command of our Mercury wagon and drive the family home. We’d spent an entire day at a wedding in Tehachapi and we were now Reseda-bound. It was going to be a long drive and it was late. What I remember most about that trip was not that I got to take the wheel; I’d done so before, but that my father sat quietly in the back seat and let me drive. He never once shouted out directions, nor tried to direct me. I had the wheel and I was in charge.

With apologies for this extended metaphor, let me fast forward to present day Laguna Beach and its school board. I for one am bored silly by the angry letters that appear virtually every week in The Indy about how badly the board is being run. And it seems that the letters all come from one who sadly (for him) did not win a seat on that board.

It’s not the end of the world.

For my money (and for my vote), the school board is being steered, as it should. It is complete with caring individuals that are modern, forward thinking, and positive. And it’s obvious that they care about their passengers. This unrelenting “back seat driving” isn’t helping, and it seems more like sour grapes than constructive criticism.

My dad was graceful that night when he recognized that the family wanted someone else to drive. Perhaps this gentleman should do the same. Take a breath, count to 10, and recognize that right now nobody wants you to drive. Trust me, the kids are all right.


Mace Morse, Laguna Beach

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  1. Thank you for posting. I’m so tired of reading complaint after complaint from this individual each week. The focus is mostly on the past rather than the present. The articles and comments at meetings are almost always negative and assume the worst in intentions and motivations. The new school board and district administration has been more collaborative, transparent and fair then I’ve seen in 20+ yrs here in the city. I’ve heard from staff, teachers and parents as well that share these positive experiences as well. There are always going to be complaints from some and room for improvement with any administration but as a community, let’s stop focusing so much on the negative and complaining so much. Let’s work together more and support one another, just like we saw so beautifully this past weekend for the end of OC Pride. This community needs to come together more rather than work so hard to try to divide and criticize.

  2. Typical, its about personalities not the issues. I am just meeting commitments I have to people who I care about to follow up on issues so there is not lack of accountability. I have more than moved on, this takes very little of my time, but I am sort of into this thing called civic duty. You think I ran for School Board because I had some need to hold office and that I am bitter. Are you kidding? I am the one who is fine. My kids are not in the schools here. I can speak freely about the kids who are getting shortchanged even if their parents and teachers who call me every week for very good reasons are afraid to do so. Are there good things happening in our schools? Hell, yes. But that is not a justification for what is not good. You spend $50 million a year on a small district with one middle school and one high school, you damn well better have a lot going on that is good. That does not mean we could not do better, a lot better, better in ways that could change lives. My focus is on the governing process, not trying to micro-anage the academics, like the School Power elites who have too much power in our schools. National studies show good schools get better when governance gets better. I have never attacked the personal motives of those who serve, just their competence and judgement. That is called freedom of speech and informed discourse, something about which you obviously are illiterate and illiberal. Being civil does not require being a codependent enabler of low standards. You think I am being negative? Well, pointing our problems is actually positive. It is being in denial about real problems that injure real people that is negative. You think the kids are fine? You need to look at substance abuse and emotional well-being and depression data. We are spending twice per student per year what other schools in OC are spending and getting lower quality of life and lower achievement outcomes, especially at the high school level. The truly fatuous “social/emotional” nanny-state staff we just hired misses the point that there is no peer driven civic culture in the student body. Do you even know what the term “student body” means? Not having kids in the school right now gives me the freedom to try to end this petty empire building that has corrupted not our teachers, students and families but rather the governing process. Why do School Power elites who raise a few hundred thousands dollars have more influence than parents who pay taxes, fees for sports and tutors, but can’t pay $1500. for culturally sterile gala dinners at Montage? Why does School Power have overhead of $200,000 a year? Why is School Power officiously intermeddling in both academics and governance? You don’t know the difference between academics and governance, that much is clear. You think the educators govern and the School Board educates, and that it is normal for School Power to do both. I had grandkids in these schools and I had parents and grandparents in these schools, and I know what it was like when the School Board exercised local control and teachers were allowed to be professionals without being compromised by elites with undue influence. If we can’t restore the spirit of public education in Laguna Beach, instead of this Big Little Lies “Private Schools At Public School cost” urban mythology (Reese Witherspoon, episode one), without any personal need or interest or purpose I will tell the truth as I understand it, before I will have no problem just wishing you well after five generations in local public schools. I feel nothing but good about having run for School Board, I have absolutely no unresolved issues about the fact that 5,300 out of 17,000 voters chose two other candidates to fill two seats on the Board. I just tried to do a public service by raising issues, and I am glad you are watching the videos of the meetings on the new archive system I advocated for five years. You are welcome. But you impugn my motives when I don’t impugn the motives of those elected public figures who asked to be public servants. I will not be silenced but only more compelled to speak out for those who have good reasons to fear retaliation against their kids if they do. And believe me, I have have been restrained in way that seem unnecessary when I read the vituperative invective like yours that feeds on personal rather than policy issues. Thanks for reminding me what matters and what does not.

  3. Sorry, got rushed at the end there, had some people show up. Point I was trying to make is that we have been holding back, trying to focus on issues not personalities. But this tactic of going after people who dare to speak out on subjective rather than objective grounds is part of the culture of suppression and retaliation that has been allowed to thrive for the last 15 years in LBUSD. So we are going to start enlarging the narrative to address the bad faith actions we have been restrained about discussing, if that is what you want the civic discussion to be about. Also sorry I garbled numbers in my haste, there were two seats, three candidates and we earned 5,300 votes out of 17,000. In a democracy that is a mandate for a credible opposition, and I made commitments to those who do not feel served to sustain a discussion and a debate. You want silence, you want the opposition to go away. You want one party rule in a non-partisan local volunteer civic body. Well, you know, maybe I will go away, then you can have the silence you want, at least from me. But not until we have some closure on the issues that caused U.S. News and World Report, the Niche Report and other independent rating entities to drop the LBHS ranking. If back seat driving bothers you, look at for the flashing red lights ahead, as noted, we have been restrained, but if we are going to be accused of having bad motives behaves we have nothing to lose informing the public about matters we decided to select out of the discussion to avoid gratuitous embarrassment. Stay tuned.

  4. “It (The Laguna Beach School Board) is complete with caring individuals that are modern, forward, and positive. And it’s obvious that they care about their passengers.” – Mace Morse, Laguna Beach

    Yes indeed, so “modern, forward, positive” and caring that Laguna Beach doesn’t vaccinate its school childen against communicable diseases satisfactorily and is the WORST DISTRICT in Orange County in this critical area of child safety.

    “Liberals are gifted only at rhetoric.” – Thomas Sowell


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