Scroll down for latest....






While we are disputing the relative merits of Mandarin Chinese vs Computer Technology in NMUSD's curriculum, I would like to suggest a couple of classes which might be incredibly important in this "Educational Brave New World".

Since the renowned "Educational Researcher", Jay Leno, proved time after time in his "Man on the Street" interviews, it has been glaring obvious that the vast majority of these well-dressed seemingly intelligent beings are just plain dumb about the world around them.  Therefore, the first class on my list would be called "HOW TO BE A USA CITIZEN STARTING IN KINDERGARTEN"

The kindergarten curriculum would include these little would-be citizens learning the name of the President of the United States along with their own address, phone number, their town, and the name of their school. Each week they would be responsible for sharing some little fact about any of these people as well as repeating the names and their addresses.

They would also be made aware that this is a country in which they have a voice and begin to learn how to use it. They would dictate their thoughts about the food, custodian, cafeteria, and possibly the principal to the teacher, and she would write the letter/email for them to the intended receiver. It would be in the form of a question, a compliment, or even a complaint

In first grade all this would be repeated with the addition of the political parties, the town and mayor. They might want to say something about the crosswalks, lack of parks, or something else that could be in their little minds.

This would go on in ever-sophisticated forms until graduation. By that time, these redoubtable, informed, empowered students, would be sent out into the world to become actual citizens.


Let's face it there are costs associated with sex, some of them obvious and some not-so-obvious. In the past when institutionalizing the teaching of sex education in an educational setting it made some people (including teachers) very nervous, and slowly but surely, it was eliminated from the curriculum altogether. Presenting the subject in a very adult/American way as a financial issue would probably satisfy the most conservative among us as well as placating the liberals (who get as nervous as everyone else)

Everything costs money and so does sex. The obvious costs involve birth control, pregnancies, births etc. The not-so-obvious costs include the possible psychological expenses, results of the distractions including falling grades, reduced interest in future, possible loss of choice of colleges or other schools, lack of training, and the possible loss of relationships with parents and families, resulting in loss of financial support. In this world where cost/benefit is king, taking the drama out of the subject and replacing it with a dollar amount would not only be refreshing but interesting.

In NMUSD's constant search for relevant curriculum, perhaps they should consider these two classes.

You may wonder what the benefit part of cost/benefit might be. Sorry, the answer makes me nervous.


This is the column that The OC Register/The Current would not publish because of the reference to the word Sh___.  I think it was a mistake...what about you?


Ada Jeppeson, affectionately known as "Jepp" by the thousands of students she taught and some she hadn't taught, is 93 years old and after she retired from teaching at Pomona High School, she agreed to teach at Dana College in Nebraska at the age of 85. To say that Jep was everyone's favorite Honors English teacher we be gross understatement (yes, it was called English then and not Language Arts) .


You had to take a test to get into this sought after class and by some miracle I passed. My husband Bruce also had Jepp and ten years later so did my brother-in-law Rick Asper.


The topic of the day is teacher tenure and the latest ruling by Judge Rolf Treu, and the question is who are the most effective teachers and who are the most "grossly ineffective" who apparently should be fired. I have spent hours that I will never get back, trying to find out what the criteria is for an effective or ineffective teacher. There is NO agreement. No one seems to know.


I asked my brother-in-law Rick Asper who's politics are diametrically opposed to mine and with some trepidation and asked him what he thought. This was his answer: 1) loving what you do 2) Take real things and make them relatable to the students 3) Kids love to be in their class.


I enthusiastically agree with all three. My question is: How are these measured?


Jepp would be considered a highly effective teacher under all three, and would probably be considered highly effective using some tests, BUT she would have been either fired or put on "administrative leave" many times during her career.


Her unorthodoxy is fully explained the following story which she related to a room full of ex-students who flew her out from Nebraska for their 50th high school reunion.


Mr. Johnson (very few principals sought or received their doctorates then) asked her to take a group of 19 boys who were in danger of not graduating because they had not passed the test. Because she had always taught Honors English she wasn't quite sure how this was going to go, but that was solved in the first five minutes of class in a way that would have doomed her future these days.


The boys were confused about why they were suddenly having a class in the "Honors Hall" and fairly cynical about the whole endeavor, as exemplified by the kid who was almost prone at his desk. He listened to her explanation and said "Sh___". Without skipping a beat Jepp said "Oh, why didn't this occur to me sooner because it's such a good word for the first question of the test!"


She then went on to explain to this motley group how it was a noun, " a pile of s____, an adjective "it's a s__ day, adverb, and best of all, an interjection. Something you throw into the conversation." and while looking directly at this kid "and that's what you did when you leaned back and said S___". The student didn't know whether he was proud or embarrassed.


I'm not sure, but I think all those boys passed that test. What I am sure of is that if this happened now Jepp would have been dragged to the office and told to leave immediately.


Jepp changed lives. There was a boy the year ahead of me who was really troubled. He actually had a still in his locker and used it to drink every day that he wasn't ditching. He would ditch every class but Jepp's. She knew it and never told the administration. She saw something brilliant in him and encouraged him throughout his life. This troubled kid became UCLA professor and author and editor of thirty books and one hundred forty articles. He has stayed in touch with her for sixty years and credits her with his success. She knew her students.


What's the lesson here? Effective teachers do not all come in one neat little package, cannot be judged by students test grades, and must be able to do their jobs as professionals without fear. Jepp did.


Jepp (93) telling this story can be found on







The Story of Two Teachers

One teacher has a member of their family with stage 4 cancer. Because the NMUSD insurance provides for both HMO and PPO the teacher says that this insurance saved the life of the family member.  The family was also saved, as the cancer victim got the best possible care with the PPO and the children were able to utilize the HMO.


They fear that it will be taken from them.


The second teacher also had stage 4 cancer with initially little hope. This
teacher has a similar story as he/she was able to use the PPO for the most
critical care and the HMO for the rest. As a result the cancer is in remission
and they didn`t lose their house and were able to be financially okay.

The NMUSD Administration wants to move to an other insurance plan giving a raise with one hand and taking the best insurance plan away with the other.

This is especially egregious since this POS plan was conceived when a former
district administration years ago unlawfully used money that was supposed to be
in an insurance "lock box" and threw it in the general fund to be generally
squandered. The struggle for this POS insurance plan was long and difficult.

If they are allowed to "kill" the POS insurance during this very confusing time
of Obamacare, the employees of the district will never see anything like it


The way this is being done by the administration indicates that they no
longer care about the rules regarding negotiating in public as a bullying attempt
to force this change.


Before the advent of the Jeffrey Hubbard reign the district paid for all insurance withthe exception of the over 65's.


The teachers are anonymous because there is a very real fear of retribution by
the administration.


There are more stories ....










Saturday, July 5, 2014

3:27 p.m. PDT




Commentary: Some truisms and falsehoods about schools




By Sandy Asper

October 11, 2013 | 3:58 p.m.



False: American kids are failing.


According to the U.S. Department of Education, tests scores are higher for Caucasian, African American, Hispanic and Asian students. The dropout rate is the lowest in our history.

False: You cannot get rid of "bad teachers." Administrators simply have to do the footwork and paperwork to make their cases. Districts have two years to figure out whether a teacher should be hired, and during that time a probationary teacher can be fired and no reason need be given.

True: Current corporate educational reforms do not work. The so-called educational reforms are simply ways to privatize and make billions of dollars from texts, tests, conferences and contractors. Two examples of these reforms are the failed programs No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, which have brought greedy entrepreneurs billions of dollars with no results.




  • U.S. Department of Education


True: Poverty is the major cause of low-performing students and schools.


Trust me, it's easy to teach kids who have parents who help with homework, who come to school having eaten, who don't have language issues and who have a somewhat normal family life. What's tougher is trying to teach in overcrowded classrooms filled with kids who are hungry and often living in unsavory, and sometimes dangerous, circumstances with family members who are either unable or unwilling to help.


False: "Bad" schools are caused by "bad teaching."


If we were to test the premise that "good schools" are in "good neighborhoods" and "bad schools" are in "bad neighborhoods," then let's swap the teaching staffs. I believe that nothing would change.

Not only do teachers in "bad schools" have to work twice as hard to be able to make any difference (usually with inferior materials and overcrowded classrooms), but they also have to bear the slings and arrows of an administration and a society that blames them. These teachers are the heroes who march into their classrooms every day and do their best with no words of support and no pats on the back — and they certainly don't do it for the money.


So what's the answer?


Classes should be small in every grade, including middle school and high school. The bloated salaries of administrators and ridiculously expensive programs should not take precedence over children. Students learn best in small classes.


Every school should have one counselor for every 100 students.

Standardized tests should be kept to a minimum, and teachers should write their own tests. After all, they are the professionals.


It would be a start.


Newport Beach resident SANDY ASPER is an author and a retired teacher.












                                 WHAT WE DON'T KNOW


In the drama surrounding the sudden firing of John Caldecott (10 year Human Resources Director), in January, 2015, there are more unanswered questions than answered ones.


In case you have no idea what I am talking about, this is the case in a nut-shell: John Caldecott was rudely fired by the NMUSD in the person of the Superintendent, Fred Navarro. Caldecott had filed a writ with the OC Superior Court  to make NMUSD release documents related to a complaint he filed against Fred Navarro, and it was made public that very day Caldecott was fired. Go figure.....


In the writ, Caldecott accused Navarro of bullying him (and unnamed others), not recognizing him as a Whistleblower when his whistle was clearly evident,  and fooling around with the STRS, State Teachers Retirement System (long may they exist!).


Caldecott lost his case when the court said essentially "Nope, you already have the documents, so knock yourself out and release them yourself."


Well, Caldecott didn't release the documents because he thought that NMUSD might possibly sue him even though they said they wouldn't. He had lost his faith you see.  So, he took his case to the State 4th District Court of  Appeals, and in one of the most amusing court cases ever, he won!  The three judges said "Nah, he is Whistleblower all right", and that was nice because not only did these multiple docs have to be released to the public, but Newport Mesa  had to pay all Caldecott's court costs including his attorney. Gadzooks!  Did I mention that this, the latest in a long history of NMUSD embarrassing an expensive dramas, could cost the district over a half a million?

These coveted documents will soon be released in their entirety,


Also, while mentioning embarrassing and costly incidents by this district, the Daily Pilot discovered that the district's finance guy, Paul Reed, has been receiving anywhere from $31,000 to this year's whopping $40,000 a year for the past 6-9 years, These figures have never been included in his contract leading the public to ask, "What the heck?" This money is addition to the already amazing salary of $259,143 plus $7,800 for transportation plus $1,200 for communication. What?


As if all this wasn't enough, Caldecott filed a complaint with the Costa Mesa Police Department against Navarro accusing him of targeting him for being a Whistleblower. It's unclear whether the district attorney will run with this football (it's the season...Go Broncos!) but this drama might play out in a really unconventional way. Perhaps not so unconventional, when you remember the Hubbard Scenario, the CDM cheating scandals, and lately, the district forgetting to include team rooms in plans for the new stadium planned for Costa Mesa High School, along with the multiple scandals from the way- back era. Think bankruptcy and embezzlement.


So while we're all sitting around waiting to see how this all plays out, some of us are pondering the multitude of unanswered questions like: Is Navarro really a bully? Will Navarro be around in 2016? What is the STRS impropriety (State Teachers Retirement System...long may it reign)? Why didn't the Board of Education listen to the Whistleblower? Why was Caldecott fired, really? Why in the world does NMUSD love Paul Reed so much that they shower him with gifts of big money which with his salary bumps it up to over $300,000 a year including extra benefits that no one else gets. With all that money on the table Reed would have stayed anyway.  Will the district ever apologize?


In addition, I have my own unanswered questions. Why does NMUSD throw money around when class sizes are huge (a Language Arts teacher friend of mine has classes averaging 37 a day, and at one point had 43 in a class). So, sit back in your comfortable chair, close your eyes, and ponder talking, listening, correcting papers and tests for 180 students, and trying to teach 180 students a day in classrooms that are too small, lacking materials, and with no air conditioning.


Newport Mesa School District what exactly are your priorities? Let's get them straight.