Letter: School District Experiences Shiny Object Syndrome

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The parent protest on May 21 may be our district leadership suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) and parents, finally totally fed up. Shiny Object Syndrome occurs when the focus is on current, trendy, or new concepts regardless of how valuable or helpful it may ultimately be. We’ve had new education models implemented every year since 2016 starting with Common core, a State mandate, driving project-based learning which our District pushed to implement as an early adopter.

Challenge Success introduced in 2017, drove the Calendar Change in 2018, school now starting two weeks before Labor Day. The goal? Eliminate finals before the holiday break. Holding finals before the break with a “project-based learning” exercise after break accomplishes the same thing. The six-class, year-long waterfall Block schedule adoption two years ago. Last year? An unvetted, online, trimester education model, with finals after break, our stated “golden ticket” to be in person. Insisting safety and our students’ well-being, the shiny object. Elementary schools went in person last fall, secondary this spring, despite surrounding districts calling all students back to campuses last fall.

Now, this 4×4, also unvetted, unproven. This is when SOS goes bad and creates problems. Leadership with SOS “tend to focus on the novelty of pursuing a strategy without a long-term game plan which leads to underdeveloped executions and unrealized potential, creates a cash burn and confusion amongst staff,” entrepreneur.com reports.

The 4×4 model continues the trend but the Shiny Object Syndrome affecting our leadership is its own “shiny object”. While parents are rightfully advocating for their students against 4×4, parents should also heed alarms about the May 27 board meeting discussing board governance. Topics of concern? Item 13B “authorization for staff to make minor revisions to Board Policies and Bylaws.” BP9310 states that the Board shall review certain policies annually. “Policies shall become effective upon Board adoption”. Bylaws aren’t living documents they’re governance standards of elected officials. Oversight, legality, governance, and accuracy are not for whimsical modification and editing by staff. Item 13. Discussion of Emergency Powers to the Superintendent, in place since March 2020. Shouldn’t it say “Dissolution”? Lastly, Discussion of resuming in-person board meetings. It is about time. Transparency depends on it.

If these items become a reality, Our Board will relinquish authority, take away the voice of the people. and give total authority over our kids’ education, the laws that govern our elected officials and how our tax dollars are spent to the administration. How is that a democracy?

Sheri Morgan, Laguna Beach

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