Mon. Sep 26th, 2022

How depressing.  The OC Weekly posted a number of articles featuring the worst Orange County elementary, middle and high schools.  The Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) dominated all three worst ten lists.  Now we know why SAUSD Trustee Audrey Noji sent her son to a high school in Irvine.



Noji was of course reelected last year, after her fellow Trustee, John Palacio (who maintains a second home in Arizona and is only here in CA on a part time basis) endorsed her.  Yes, he too was reelected.

Why do these Trustees keep getting elected?  For one thing they are partisan Democrats and the usual blue suspects all endorsed them.

I jumped into the SAUSD School Board late, raised no money, did not send any campaign mail, and lost by only 1,400 votes.  But I was the ONLY one to challenge these lame Trustees!  All the other blue and red political types in town demurred.  Unbelievable.  I may have lost but I forced Palacio and Noji to raise and spend a ton of money.

I can only hope we will see a few good challengers this year.  Trustees Rob Richardson, Roman Reyna and Jose Alfredo Hernandez are up for reelection.  Let’s see how they explain the district’s continued low grad rates, high dropout rates and awful test results.

Richardson also should explain why he gave himself an undeserved raise at the County of Orange, where he is the Assistant CEO.  He had that taken away recently and also lost his County paid car.

Richardson was supported by Assemblyman Jose Solorio last time he ran for office.  Solorio shared a campaign office with him.  And all the usual blue hacks supported him, even though he remains a Republican – and he personally made sure the Supervisors gutted Planned Parenthood’s funding after they funded one of his opponents last time he ran for the School Board.

Will anyone challenge these people? Remember that NONE of them have kids in the district – except maybe Hernandez.  Richardson and Reyna have no kids and Palacio’s kids all graduated already.  Shouldn’t a few parents be on our School Board?

I should note that not all our schools suck.  Our fundamental schools are pretty good.  My son Joey had the highest GPA in the district last year, as he graduated from Godinez Fundamental High School.  He is now at UCLA on a partial scholarship.  And my son Jacob is in the GATE program at Muir Fundamental Elementary.  My son Jimmy is also now at Godinez and he is doing very well too.  My daughter Becky graduated from Santa Ana High and got a degree from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and she is now a fashion designer at the Gap’s 1969 subsidiary.  I am proud of all my kids who all have excelled at SAUSD schools.

But a lot of kids are not doing well and too many have fallen through the gaps.  We need new leadership at the SAUSD!  Let’s see if our new Superintendent, Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, can get things in order…

By Editor

Art Pedroza started Orange County's first political blog, the Orange Juice, back in 2003. He now publishes the top civic blog in Orange County - New Santa Ana, plus other blogs including New Anaheim, New Fullerton and the Irvine News Blog, as well as the OC Politics Blog.

27 thoughts on “SAUSD schools suck again – why do the Trustees keep getting elected?”
  1. Folks, this is what will happen when you do not listen to your parents, warning you about the evil of the rock ‘n’ roll, and self defeating subliminal satanic message.

    Bumper:

  2. The lists that are hyperlinked in the above are from May of 2010…are there new ones for 2011/2012? Doubt it changed much, but who knows.

    How much really does the school board have to do with the API scores? I would think that it has much more to do with the students, teachers, and parents. For example, is the Irvine school board that much better than the Santa Ana one? I know that they will set direction and provide leadership, but seems like there is so much more to it. Would the Irvine Board get the results they get if you swapped the students, teachers, and parents and left the Board and Structures (i.e. the school property)?

    I would think that the school board should have some skin in the game by either by being parents of SAUSD school kids or at least have school age kids and defend them going to another district.

    1. I think the results are always a year behind.

      The school boards review and approve textbooks and have a direct hand in setting the direction of the school district, by setting budget priorities. They work closely with administration and are in a position to hold folks accountable.

      To me the school board and the administration has seemed out of touch and without a clue for some time. For example, when I ran for the SAUSD School Board in 2010, I found out their website was not offered in other languages and made a stink about it. Only then did they put a Google translator widget on their site.

      I agree that we need at least SOME parents on our board – particularly of school aged children who are enrolled in the district, like mine are.

  3. I have made enemies in this blogesphere. Many, too stupid to realize it wasn’t even me, allthe while they blather about “anonymous” comments and other surpurfolous bullshit. With or without me that waste continues today.

    But, it is safe to say, and 100% accurate that the whole reason I began posting, entered the fray was this issue.

    MY AGE OLD QUESTION REMAINS:

    “Why would someone with NO CHILDREN in the Santa Ana Unified School District run for school board?”

    There are but a few exeptions. None of those apply here, Noji has perhaps the best arguement, cemented by here lack of upward mobility (but that comes into question WHY??).

    I have attended over 100 SAUSD meetings, Spoken to EVERYONE of the past 15 members personally. I have to question why a guy like Rob Richardson, who has never had kids is on the board.

    Upward mobility is a good thing, but at the expense of children.

    Why hasn’t ANYONE ever asked Rob why he wants to continue to serve on the board. Rob does NOT take phone calls, he DOES NOT speak Spanish, he is as representitive of the student body as I am to the Chinese Dance Council.

  4. Admin- The article that it refers to is from May 2010 on OC Weekly (i.e. the date that the article was written). Curious if there is a more current one or if your original article meant to reference an article that was a year and a half old.

    I would think that someone who truly cares about kids and society could be a good asset to a school board. Some people are just drawn to education and wanting the best for others. I would not put speaking Spanish as a criteria though as there are plenty of great educators, leaders, and parents who do not speak Spanish who probably would do a great job as a trustee and lead appropriately. Hopefully someone has asked the question “why do you want to server” to them during election times and hopefully they have at least answered, albeit we may not like their political answer.

    Again, I wonder if you were to trade just the school boards with a “successful” district such as Irvine, if the same results would be shown. My gut tells me it is much more than just the board. The board is one component, but I can certainly think that there are other higher influencing criteria for determining success- however it may be measured.

    1. I will check to see if there are updated scores available. Thanks!

      You are correct but the board is elected by the voters and the voters can hold the board accountable. We can’t fire the SAUSD administrators and other staff.

  5. You’re way off target. Why don’t you put the blame where it really belongs — the Teachers Union.

    This Board has no REAL power — that’s with union management which has always been all about confiscating tax money for an already overpaid and underworked collection of lifers that can’t be fired. If the schools “suck”, who is the one, single group of people who could only be the most responsible? Since they can’t be fired, there’s no accountability — they’ll all be back next year to cause the same damage.

    Your post also says nothing about students from non-English speaking households. Perhaps there are a few in Santa Ana? How much do these kids hold BACK the native English speakers and negatively affect test scores? These kids aren’t ready to enter an AMERICAN school if they’re not fluent in English, and there’s no damn reason why the schools should be forced to compensate, especially to the disadvantage of those kids who ARE properly prepared, but are held back waiting for the others to catch up.

    1. Good point re the union. They wouldn’t even interview me last year.

      The ESL issue is a real one. Ever since bilingual ed went out the door, the district has struggled to replace it with anything effective. It is one reason why so many kids end up dropping out.

      That said, I learned English in Kindergarten and was winning spelling bees by the second grade. The difference? My mom. Now my kids are honor students – and my wife and I do all we can to support their education.

  6. The simple answer to Kenlaysnotdead’s question is that School Boards (and San Districts and Traffic Committees and Planning Commissions) are for politically ambitious people to test their viability for higher office.

    It’s ludicrous that this Board has no skin in the game (children in school), but I’ll bet the unions have a great deal to say (and money to invest) in maintaining a friendly Board.

    How transparent has the process been? Who’s looked at who’s supporting and funding these candidates? And is it legal to require a School Board member have a child enrolled in the District? If not, why not?

  7. “Noji has perhaps the best arguement, cemented by here lack of upward mobility (but that comes into question WHY??).”

    She gets to triple dip on her retirement and gets medical insurance for life. I guess that’s a pretty good reason to stay. She would not have put her boy in a Santa Ana classroom for any reason.

  8. As long as they ask childless taxpapers to pay for schools, then they should have a right to sit on the boards that decide how the tax dollars are spent. When they only tax parents for schools, I’d be all for parents only on school boards.

  9. Admin – Recently I was laid off as a school counselor and it was one of the greatest blessings being laid-off after being hired in another school district. Although I enjoyed the challenges that parents and students brought to the table, what I disliked was the politics that were being played within my school site and in the district. I was laid-off based on politics, what ever happen to HR’s policy of recruiting and retaining competent employees. I was bumped by a teacher who had no experience in counseling. This is why the trustees need to go for failing to monitor the rehiring process. The union wouldn’t help me and told me to take a hike. I had a perfect employee evaluation and I was still let go. I have no hatred towards the district but hatred towards the policies that the union and the district for rehires. I hope the three trustees are far removed in the upcoming elections and I hope Admin. in HR are fired for mishandling the rehire process. On a side note, the school site that I was at has a teacher who plays video games during class lecture (has not been fired), a teacher had cursed at me (finally retired), a couple of PE teachers who just sit on their rears watching the time go by. They hardly engage with the students. These are the type of staff members who should be let go but no, I had to be the one let go. I guess it’s SAUSD’s loss and another school district’s gain!!!!

    1. You make excellent points – and this is exactly what I have heard before from others. I wish you the best of luck with your continued career. Once again we lost out on a great employee!

  10. Interviews with kids that drop out do not mention board decisions. Student and teacher apathy is more connected to the symptoms of community low economic hardships.

    The difference between education performance is tied to household economics also extrapolated to differences in city economic levels.

    THE SOLUTION TO DROP OUTS IS ECONOMIC.
    SCHOOL BOARDS ARE IRRELEVANT ONLY RELEVENT AND NECESSARY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REASONS.

    Parenting Education Why Teens Drop Out of High School…

    Why Teens Drop Out of High School .

    National statistics on the number of high school drop outs for 2008

    Recent studies reported by the US Department of Education revealed nearly 1.2 million students between the ages of 15 and 24 dropped out of high school in one year alone. However, according to the US Department of Education, the true drop out rate for US teens is quite difficult to discern with out factoring in the number of reasons why teens drop out of high school.

    These statistical findings suggest that 1 in every 5 students will drop out of high school between the 10th – 12th grade for one reason or another. Factoring in all the potential reasons for this extremely high ratio of drop outs verses graduates is quite complicated as researchers explain. For this reason we have narrowed down the top ten reasons that teens leave high school before graduation.

    Statistically 55% of the nation’s students between the ages of 15 and 19 will successfully complete high school and receive a high school diploma. Another 15% will receive their GED or high school equivalency before the age of 24, which in total accounts for 70% of students that will graduate annually. The remaining 30% of high school students will drop out of school before reaching the 12th grade.

    According to the US Department of Education, there are ten significant markers of risk or reasons teens drop out of high school before graduating. Below are what USDOE discovered as the most common reasons teens drop out of high school.

    10 Reasons Why Teens Drop Out of High School

    1. Lack of Educational Support
    Studies conducted on 5,000 high school drop outs revealed 75% dropped out of high school because they lack sufficient parental support and educational encouragement.

    2. Outside Influences
    Friends and/or peer pressure from other high school drop outs, family or other outside relationships can impact a teen to drop out of school. This also encompasses teens who opt to drop out high school to join a gang or to be accepted in other teen groups and street communities.

    3. Special Needs
    There are a number of teens dropping out high school because they require specific attention to a certain need such as ADHD or dyslexia. This is predominately among densely populated public high schools where the overcrowded classrooms fail to recognize the special needs of a specific student.

    4. Financial Problems
    Often the family is in a very poor financial situation and in order to help the family financially is another reason why teens drop out of school. Teens in this case are forced to obtain employment to financially help the family, and in some cases the financial strain can be due to an unplanned pregnancy and/or parental disabilities.

    5. Lack of Interest
    One of the biggest reasons a teen will drop out of high school is because they simply lack interest in gaining an education. Out of 10,000 public high school drop outs, 7,000 of them confessed to their lack in interest to complete high school. Most often this is due to the generic course curriculums offered to public high school students, whereby a number of students simply become bored.

    6. Drug and Alcohol Abuse
    Drugs and alcohol abuse is within the top 3 reasons students fail to complete their high school education. It goes without saying, that a teen on drugs will rarely complete high school.

    7. Depression and Physical Illnesses
    Depression and illnesses can be the result of an eating disorder, heredity, family or financial situation that will contribute to the teen’s lack of interest in school or class subjects and and is common reason why teens drop out of school.

    8. Physical Abuse
    Teens that are victims of domestic violence such as physical, verbal and sexual abuse tend to drop out of high school before obtaining their high school diploma. In most cases a number of teens experiencing abuse will runaway from home, thus causing them to drop out.

    9. Teen Pregnancy
    In the past, teen pregnancy accounted for 15% of the high school drop out rate among teens between the ages of 15 – 18. However, these numbers have sharply declined to about 4% on the average. A number of public schools have opted to reform the school to cater to pregnant teens. Some states have high schools specifically for pregnant teens and teen mothers to ensure they complete high school in an environment that does not judge them or discount the impact or signigicance of their circumstance.

    10. Alternative Lifestyles
    This common reason teens drop out of high school is due to their perception of an alternative lifestyle in which education does not play an important role. A teen who is introduced to drug dealing and prostitution may view high school as a waste of time because they don’t need an education to sell drugs or their bodies for that matter.

    The bottom line for parents to help reduce the number of teen high school drop outs across the nation is to equip themselves and their teens with knowledge and alternative methods, such as going to a continuation or alternative school to receive their high school diploma and/or get their GED. It’s simply not enough to tell your teen the importance of an education, but to also guide them into the right direction. Most important is maintaining communication so that you can discover your teen’s risk of dropping out far enough in advance to really make a difference in the outcome.

  11. “THE SOLUTION TO DROP OUTS IS ECONOMIC”……. Hmmmmmm

    The reason why I didn’t doped out of the school, in the old communist Czechoslovakia, was that a teacher was allowed to tell me: “Fiala if you will not learn you will become a garbage collector” or “Fiala if you will not learn you will become a coal miner” or “Fiala if you will not learn you will become a bricklayer” or “Fiala if you will not learn you will become an affirmative action detected dentist in the USA because over the USA they can’t tell you truth so they can’t heard your feelings.

    There are many countries around the world with 100 x worse economics and in same time 100 x better education Dr. Amalgam.

  12. Fiala ,

    We are talking about drop outs in the USA . I understand your problem with reading comprehension.

  13. “We are talking about drop outs in the USA”…… Hmmmmmm

    The USA is not the 5th dimension, Dr. Amalgam.

    I am talking about USA referenced to others in the 3rd dimension!

    Only the USA affirmative action educated person will talk without a reference.

  14. “garbage collector make a good wage”….. Hmmmmm

    I know, even over there all those labor intense workers make a good wage, however in Europe are cases.

    If you are garbage collector you are lower class and your children are recurred by children whose parents are office workers which is higher standard because of the education.

    That forces children to strive for a higher education.

    To be a somebody.

  15. Fiala,

    Why don’t you read a book or research material on issues. Your general ignorance is amazing.

    The images in your brain is not the real world.I reference everything I post. In this case my reference is the USA Department of Education . Your reference is your imaginary world.

    “The USA is not the 5th dimension, Dr. Amalgam.”

    However it is the subject matter. Issues and solutions are tied to where they occur in association to regional contributing factors.

  16. “However it is the subject matter”…… Hmmmmmm

    Your subject mater was “THE SOLUTION TO DROP OUTS IS ECONOMIC”, Dr. Amalgam.

    Maybe you should stop reading Marxism-Leninism manifesto.

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