School Results Measure Success

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Currently our school district spends $56 million annually on four small schools with declining enrollment of around 2,900. That’s nearly twice the annual cost per student at OC’s highest-ranked Irvine schools, and over 25% above Newport-Mesa or Capistrano.

Spending more is justified if results are commensurate.  Instead outcomes prove the best schools money can buy aren’t necessarily the best schools.

We all celebrate every local school success story. The inconvenient truth is positive district-wide outcomes disproportionately reflect grade K-8 performance.

High school outcomes reveal true efficacy of K-12 curriculum. Several OC high schools spending half per student outperform LBHS in critical areas.

U.S. News & World Report ranks LBHS 640th nationally and 114th among high schools in our state, which is ranked 47th among states nationwide. USN&WR scores LBHS 51.9 on college readiness, consistent with 53% LBHS student proficiency on state “common core” math assessments.

Widely-followed Niche education surveys blend scholarship and non-academics, ranking LBUSD a solid 25th in state, third in OC, buoyed by K-8 achievement not sustained at LBHS. Even with expected overall A+ rating, LBHS drops down to 95th on Niche high school rankings statewide.

LBUSD’s internal assessments are self-promotional, relying on state school award banners to mask a distressed status quo.  Example, compliance with state law mandating equal access to school technology was politically orchestrated to misleadingly imply lavish procurement means digitally-based learning has been measurably enhanced.

Our school board long ago abdicated local policy control to under-performing, over-paid senior staff and consultants. A widening gap between the shrinking pool of high achieving student clusters and school wide student performance reveals systemic school governance deficiencies.

Meanwhile, a school board leadership vacuum allows deep-pocket School Power donors to buy disproportionate influence and privilege in public schools.  School Power donations are chump change compared to the $56 million taxpayers contribute annually.

Until measurable LBHS results match the hype, next time a School Power pledge drive claims LBHS is “like a private high school” parents should call the fraud prevention hot line!

We have generously supported School Power, but wealth-driven, influence–seeking, mission creep institutionalized a de facto political monopoly restraining pluralism from PTA to the school board.  Public schools are a civic legacy, not for sale.

In ways money can’t buy, a more diverse broadly-experienced school board could truly enrich education for students and families, especially those who stay through high school.

Howard Hills, Laguna Beach

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  1. The School Board should stop allowing parents, educators and School Power representatives to stage events on school campuses that promote School Power fundraising and private organizational interests. School Power is a private entity and school personnel, staff and resources should not be used to promote its private interests, even if it donates funds to the public schools.

    If School Power is allowed to state events on campus, the same privileges must be given to any private special interest organization seeking to influence public school programs and policy that donates to the schools. The School Board has created a situation in which any private organization can buy access to school campuses by donating money to the public schools.

    It is especially important that adults from School Power do not use balloons and oversized checks as publicity photo-op props at our school sites, in many cases videotaped for use in private fundraising. The Executive Director of School Power showed one such video in which she described surprise visits to classrooms to “give away money” was “like a Publisher’s Clearinghouse Winner” commercial.

    What message does it send to young children to be surprised in class by adults acting like the tooth fairy who then rehearses the kids to appear in a promotional video chanting “Thank You School Power” in unison? It is a bad civics lesson to enlist public school students in classroom cheerleading for School Power in highly politicized private fundraising videos screened at fundraising events, on social media including the LBUSD website and official e-mail blasts, and in School Board meetings. That is especially true of the 2016 fund-a-need video that targeted young well informed parents who opposed School Board math curriculum for political harassment.

  2. Funny that Laguna Beach spends all that money on schools and can’t even vaccinate them properly. It just shows that Laguna’s priorities are on other things besides the welfare of your children. Shameful, truly shameful.

    Drive on over to the Pageant of the Masters and the Laguna Art Festival now.
    “Art” – that one-word oxymoron – is the sine qua non of Laguna Beach. Kids, well you’ll get to them, later.


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