Friday, August 27, 2004

Now this is irony!
It is hard to explain exactly what I felt when I read a post on last night that said I must be spending all my time doing research and not spending much time with my students in order to keep doing this blog.
The importance of blogs and sites like and is that they offer an opportunity for people who would not have had a voice in the past to have an impact. Unfortunately, they also offer an opportunity to cheapshot artists to do their thing.
This is the same thing that my former superintendent was saying last spring when he was trying to get my new bosses to fire me. He claimed that I had to be shortchanging my students because I was writing so much about the Diamond R-4 School District on
Now for the irony. I read this item shortly after 7 p.m. last night, just moments after getting home from 12 hours at South. I arrive at school each morning at about 6:45 a.m. I normally stay for at least an hour after the final bell rings. At least once a week I spend a couple more hours grading 130 1 1/2 page essays and giving credit for 520 writing prompts. Last night, I attended an after-school meeting on the Career Ladder program, graded papers and talked with four former students who came in.
This was after attending a meeting before school started to implement South's ZAP program (Zeros Aren't Permitted), an attempt to help students succeed by encouraging them to meet deadlines and turn in their work. I might add that this program adds a lot of paperwork that teachers have to do. And you aren't going to hear me or most of the other teachers complain. This is an important program that has worked in many school districts.
Later in the year, I will be helping sponsor the academic team, working on South's newsletter, working with a student journalism club, in addition to my responsibilities as a so-called technology leader in our building, which I became after attending a four-day workshop at the high school this summer.
This is not an unusual workload for a teacher and I don't mind it. These are things I enjoy doing. One thing I don't do is waste the taxpayers' money by doing research for The Turner Report or working on it in other ways while I am at school.
I require my students to write every day so I started this blog after telling the students that I wasn't going to require them to do anything that I wouldn't do. Writing every day improves your skills and I have done it nearly every day for over 27 years.
It doesn't take an incredible amount of research to come up with the items I put on this website. You do have to know where to look and I spent all of those years learning where to go to find certain records. The O'Sullivan investigation was not difficult. Most of the information came from filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I also knew other sources that could provide me with background iinformation.
Any person who has done any amount of investigative reporting knows that you need to have good files and I have always kept good files. I know where to look when I need some information from something I have written in the past or articles that I have saved from other publications because I thought they might come in handy at some point.
I don't mind criticism of writing style or comments from people who disagree with the things I say. As my old-time readers from The Press and the Lamar Democrat know, I was never one of those who wouldn't publish letters to the editor from people who criticized something I had written or disagreed with it. That type of exchange is important for small-town newspapers.
But I will take issue when someone says I am not giving my all for my students. They are my number one priority and South Middle School and the Joplin R-8 School District are going to get my best every day (and as most people who know me well know, I have only missed one day of work in the past 27 years and that was because I was hospitalized, receiving 12 units of blood last December.)
I hate to even dignify what that cheapshot artist (and the one I used to work for) said by responding to it but this accusation has no merit whatsoever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, isn't it just terrible when people take cheap shots at you with little or no merit when you just provided them with information? Yeah well, you shouldn't expect more from them. Sorry.