School Board Should Lead Not Follow

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Editor,

Once again our school board is hiding behind the beleaguered superintendent to defend its abysmal record of failed public school governance.

The superintendent’s “Don’t worry, be happy” message from the school district website was featured as a letter to the editor (“District Accepts the Challenge” in the Indy April 30), seeking to deflect attention from utter disarray in school board proceedings.

But diversionary public relations narratives written by salaried public employees can’t conceal that our schools succeed despite rather than because of the current school board and its besieged senior staff.  Not only did we pay the superintendent $235,000 a year while earning her Ph.D. on school time, now Smith and her under-qualified, overpaid pals from Capo Beach schools are totally dependent on a cadre of outside contractor consultants to cope in the brave new world of common core curriculum.

One consultant with strong ties to Washington and Sacramento education politics reportedly was paid $42,000 in one month to spoon-feed highly experimental math theory to the superintendent and her regiment of educational bureaucrats. Yet, when parents arranged for the former Stanford math department chairman to come at no cost to discuss questions causing him to resign as President Obama’s common core math advisor, the school board refused, in apparent agreement with board member Carol Normandin, that questioning common core is “irresponsible.” Pursuing that policy with a vengeance, when local residents who are teachers in other districts dared question curriculum as parents in our schools their supervisors got retaliatory phone calls from our superintendent, an unlawful abuse of power was condoned with inaction by our school board.

Ironically, while taxpayers subsidized our superintendent’s graduate degree studies we lost LBHS Principal Joanne Culverhouse, who not only had her Ph.D. but years of experience at multiple schools in our community.  She is now the assistant superintendent for Palos Verdes public schools, under another former LBHS principal, Dr. Don Austin. Under their leadership common core is being implemented under local control instead of uncritical obedience to Sacramento and Washington.

A recent news report features Austin asking Sacramento questions on curriculum and even the right of parents to opt kids out of controversial new testing. Meanwhile, our school board refuses even to inform parents of the opt-out choice that exists under state law.

Board meetings increasingly are conducted in violation of board bylaws, even as the board grandiosely misapplies those same bylaws to limit debate.  Dark days of LBUSD indeed.

Howard Hills, Laguna Beach

 

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