Jeff Benson's article in Tuesday's Daily Pilot ("School District's
plan to fit challenging times") deserves to be read and studied by
those citizens who appreciate the major efforts undertaken by the
elected school board and the host of concerted volunteers.
Benson has most diligently interviewed key members of the
Newport-Mesa Unified School District leadership to arrive at a most
comprehensive summary of the major components of the plan. Although
Benson lists a number of "most notable" goals -- i.e., a redesign of
the high school system, the creation of a teacher training center and
demonstration school, the addition of a hands-on, inquiry-based
science program, etc. -- what he covers are basically steps in the
overall strategic plan, which will produce the goals being sought.
As for the goals sought, I assume that many of the current issues
and problems that face the district are included (truancy, dropouts,
poor academic achievement in a number of schools). It was a little
disheartening to read the comments of the Corona Del Mar High School
PTA president when she remarked: "Our problem is that the school is
viewed as so academic that, if you're a more middle-of-the-road
student, you don't necessarily fit in. Our goal is to find a way for
every student to succeed."
I'm not sure that academic success in her high school is not the
bellwether of achievement. Perhaps she was referring to the other
high schools, which have not matched Corona Del Mar academically.
As for programs and activities that foster the arts, I doubt that
a magnet school for arts is "crucial to the district," initially at
least, due to the budgetary burdens.
I agree with philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, who opined that:
"It requires no effort to use our schools to produce a population
with some love of music, some enjoyment of drama and some joy in the
beauty of form and color ... the strain on material resources would