One week after running a column lecturing Joplin R-8 voters for not attending a candidate forum, the Globe blew an opportunity to help those missing voters understand the issues and candidates a little better.
In its Sunday edition, the Globe printed answers given by the three board of education candidates to five questions supplied to them by the newspaper: These are the five questions:
1. Are the current standards used by Joplin R-8, which are required for promotion to each grade level and for graduation from high school, adequate?
2. Do you think students and their parents are made aware of the standards in place? In other words, do you think the district is clear in informing its students and parents what’s expected of them?
3. What improvements, if any, are needed to improve those standards?
4. Where do you stand on neighborhood schools versus grade centers in Joplin? Are you in favor of one over the other?
5. How do you view the role and responsibilities of the school board in relation to the district’s administration?
The Globe staff wasted three of the five questions on the standards issue, which the newspaper has been harping about in editorials lately. Even worse, the first two questions are yes and no questions, though the candidates (fortunately for the Globe) did not treat them that way.
I would much rather have seen questions that would reveal more about the candidates' priorities than questions that revealed the Globe's priorities. For instance, what should be the top five priorities of the Joplin R-8 School District, If the school district ever reaches the point where cuts need to be made, where should those cuts be made? What programs should be cut first, What programs should not suffer any cuts? What do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of No Child Left Behind. What qualities do you prize in school administrators?
After the questions, offer each candidate a certain number of words to get his or her message across. Again, this should reveal something about the candidates. Are they just offering platitudes and generalities and trying to overwhelm voters with educational jargon, or are their interests in line of the interests of the voters?
The Globe had a valuable opportunity to enlighten its readers about the school board race Sunday. It is a shame that opportunity was squandered.