Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Books That Got Me Fired



(The following is my latest Huffington Post blog.)


Two weeks ago today, I walked out of my classroom for perhaps the last time.

It wasn’t anything I planned. Even when I wrote for Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago recommending that young people not become teachers, I never stopped loving my job. I never lost my enthusiasm for teaching eighth graders the finer points of writing.

My students are still in my classroom every day and will be until May 21.  I miss them greatly and hope, perhaps against all hope, that I will get a chance to be with them at least one more time before the school year ends.

That usually doesn’t happen, however, for teachers who have to be escorted from the school building by a police officer in full view of students who were boarding school buses to leave for the day.

You would think that I committed murder or engaged in one of those horrific relationships that bring shame to the teaching profession. That is not the case.

My crime- I write books.

It was just 15 minutes before my police escort that the assistant principal at Joplin East Middle School came into my room during my planning period and said, “They want to see you in the conference room.”

I went into the conference room and found the assistant principal, the principal, and a lady whom I had never seen before. She introduced herself as the school’s human resources director.

The first thing she did was whip a document out. “We prohibit the recording of district meetings like this,” she said, showing me the policy, “so I am going to ask you do you have your cell phone on you and is it turned on?”

“Feel free to check,” I said, as I took it out of my pocket.

“So I’m just going to ask that you turn it off, completely please, and I’m going to ask you to leave it out.”

Once I placed the phone on the table, the questioning began. I was asked about a number of blogs I have, including The Turner Report, my classroom blogs and a few blogs I started, but which had never really taken off.

One of those, which the woman took a particular interest in, was called Room 210 Discussion. I started the site 10 years ago when former students told me they would like to continue having the sorts of discussions they had when they were in my class. I created it and for a few months it was popular then it died down and for the most part, I had just put it out of my mind. During the fall of 2010, I thought once again about starting a discussion site. I changed the description at the top of the blog home page to indicate it was a place for discussion for students and former students, but I never followed up on it. I only used it sometimes to copy and paste some of my blog posts to increase the chance they might catch the attention of a search engine.

After asking me about my blogs, the woman caught me off guard by asking, “Did you write a sexually explicit book called No Child Left Alive?”

I told her I had written a book by that title and that it had sex scenes, but it was not sexually explicit.

She then asked if I had ever encouraged students to download the book and discuss it.

“No.”

With a dramatic flair, she whipped out a page that had been printed from that Room 210 Discussion site and pointed out to me a part that encouraged people to download the book for free and discuss it. I knew what had happened and tried to explain the website was not used for classroom purposes, probably had only about 5 to 10 visitors a month and it was unlikely any of those were students.

She cut me off, saying I would get my chance to give my side.

I never did.

She wasn’t finished, however. She asked me if I wrote a book called Scars from the Tornado. I said I had. It was a book that I wrote, along with students from East Middle School who shared their experiences in the May 22, 2011, tornado and during our first year in our warehouse school.

“Did you advertise that book on your classroom websites?”

“Yes.”

No further questions were asked. I was told I would be placed on “paid administrative leave” while an investigation was conducted.

The bell had just sounded and the shouts of students joyously dashing into the halls, another school day behind them, forced the woman to raise her voice.

After that, I was escorted to my room by the principal, assistant principal, the human resources director, and the police officer. ‘

“We don’t want to draw a lot of attention,” she said, as our parade began, drawing a lot of attention. I handed my school keys to the principal, removed a few personal belongings, and was taken out of the school by the policeman.

As he took me past students and out to my car, I realized I had left my jacket in my classroom, so he escorted me back into my room and back out to my car.

And I left East Middle School, perhaps forever.

For the next 10 days, I waited to hear the results of this “investigation.” Since I had provided the woman with a telephone number, I assumed I would be called for more questions.

That never happened.

On Thursday, I was reading when there was a loud knock on my door. A man sent by the school district delivered an envelope containing 28 pages of charges against me.

Much of it centered on what they termed as “immoral conduct” because I had allegedly encouraged students to read obscene material. I was never allowed to explain that the download reference on my blog, which was not a classroom blog, was from a December 16,2012, Daily Kos diary written just after the murders at Sandy Hook, in which I noted at the end of the piece that No Child Let Alive dealt with the subject of school violence. I invited the Daily Kos readers to download it and discuss it. I had then copied and pasted it into Room 210 for Teachers and Room 210 Discussion. It obviously was never intended for children. That is one of the reasons why the book was published under my real name, William Turner, instead of Randy Turner, the name I normally use.

I was also charged with profiting from the work done by my students in the Scars from the Tornado book and of not getting parental permission to use the material. I had never been asked about either thing, only if I advertised it.

I gave away 1,111 free e-copies of Scars to fulfill a promise I made that all students and staff at East would get one and I had also offered the same deal to the community. Tough way to make a profit.

In addition, as I had written in another blog post, I invested nearly $5,000 in the book and despite that, I had been talking to my fellow teachers, students, and parents about ways to put proceeds into a charity. One of my fellow teachers had suggested a Scars from the Tornado Foundation, with money going to other schools like Joplin’s, Tuscaloosa’s or Sandy Hook that went through tragedies. The students who contributed to the book would serve as a board of directors. All of this had been publicized in my Turner Report blog, as well as on Facebook, and I had also talked the idea over with my principal.

As for those parental permission slips, as I write this, I am sitting a few feet from a folder full of signed parental permission slips.

She never asked.

So a book that has been nothing except positive for Joplin, Scars from the Tornado, is being used to remove me from a job I love.

Why is this happening?

It appears the biggest problem is that in No Child Left Alive, a novel about a year in a dysfunctional high school, I wrote about problems I had heard about from teachers across the United States, including those in Joplin.

I would surmise, that perhaps one of the characterizations in the book offended an administrator. All I know is that when our superintendent issued a statement about my leave, he did not say it was a parent who turned me in, or a student. The complaint came from “a district employee.”


My understanding is that district officials are challenging my claim that I received no opportunity to defend myself. Not only was I treated the way I said I was, but my students and fellow faculty members were treated the same way as they were interrogated in efforts to get them to say something bad about me.

Hopefully, the audio will prove how, in a school district which prides itself on a no tolerance policy for bullies who prey on children, there seems to be no protection from bullies who prey on teachers. 

225 comments:

1 – 200 of 225   Newer›   Newest»
Denton W. said...

This is so stupid. "Do your students have access to the Room 210 Discussion Blog?"


That's like asking if I have access to "Best ways of frying chicken." Yes, it's on the internet. No, I'm not about to go looking for it.

I didn't even know that the blog existed! That's proof in itself that you never encouraged anyone!

Anonymous said...

Call Tom Carver in Springfield. He'll get their attention in the correct manner.

Sounds like way to many tax dollars are being spent by the Joplin system to look for "boogers behind every bush."

Shelley said...

She didn't listen to you at all. She had a script she followed.

I hope to hell you sue this school. And I hope the hell is gets heavily embarrassed by its Tea Party behavior.

Sidney said...

My children's first grade teacher ( single st the time) had a parent who complained to the principal about the teacher being in a night club, dancing! The principal informed the parent that what ANY teacher did while they were off work was their own business.

Sue the school or at least consult a lawyer about it. Get your lost wages, lawyer fee and whatever else you can. Including your teaching job back.

Ruth d said...

I don't know you personally Randy, but what happened to you is "deja vu" to another incident at Cecil Floyd School about 5 years ago. Sadly the administration's "not drawing attention" is totally defeated by using police to escort a peaceable person from the premises. We all know its their way of trying to get the public to see you as "criminal" even though you worked every day to improve the lives of your students and the Joplin community. In our instance the people who supported and could speak the truth about the principal were never spoken to or allowed to represent him. I'm sure there are many people who could represent your professionalism but will not because of fear of losing their jobs. In our case we all knew who the "rat" was and it didn't take long to figure out what Administration promised her for her lies. We are not stupid...she was promoted to principal in his place after destroying his reputation and life. You will probably never find out who the employee was who made a complaint against you if there even was one. When I first started teaching in Joplin over 35 years ago, teachers were all treated as professionals. We had to right to our opinions and the right to disagree if need be. Teachers were happy, healthy, and respected in the community. Now the rule in Joplin is...keep your head down, don't question and never disagree with administration and especially one person in particular. Our principal stood his ground against this person and within one year with the help of his assistant, faced pages of charges, most untrue, and was gone with his reputation in question to help prove their false charges, which parallels your situation. You will not be treated fairly, you will not get to give your side, no one will be allowed to represent your professionalism, and administration will get their way again. I'm so sorry for what is happening to you. In all my 33 years of teaching in Joplin I have only been deeply ashamed of our district two times. Once at Cecil Floyd for the disgraceful way they handled that situation over 5 years ago and presently with their treatment of yours. To be honest in Joplin R-8 when contrary to administration is a crime. To have an opinion contrary to administration is also a crime. All employees know this and that is why they keep their mouths shut...they need their jobs. I'm sure you do too but your mistake was to care too much, to be honest with students, parents, and community, and to be vocal.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you just use a pen name?

Anonymous said...

Disregard my previous comment. I overlooked the part where you said you used a pen name before.

As a former teacher myself, I share your sentiments exactly. The profession has become way too bureaucratic (like everything else nowadays) and inhibits teachers from their creative potential. I was completely naive when I began my first year; thinking I was going to make school cool again by remembering what exactly made going to class dull as I grew up and how I was about to completely revamp all of it now that I was head of the class. Boy did reality hit me like a brick wall (pardon the cliche). I became bogged down by meetings, committees, teacher workshops, etc. The district had a very short leash on how an educator would instruct students. Saying it is a hive mentality would be an understatement. My administrator would evaluate me every stinking month and discourage me to stop deviating from my lesson plan (more appropriately the clunky curriculum binder dictating on what I should be exactly teaching each day). By winter break, my zest was gone. They have been prepping for MAP and I got the impression that it was "do or die" if my students lacked. Honestly, I didn't give a shit, neither did my students. I had my bout of being compliant--and it only lasted two weeks. Subsequently, I rivaled Bill Nye in terms of cool science experiments, making learning genuinely fun regardless how much of my own money I put in myself. Yeah, I was supposed to be the obedient drone like every other plain Jane, homebody teacher at my school, but I didn't care. As the year came to an end, my contract wasn't renewed.

I know this will come out as a cliche, but what was really worth it when the kids would pull me out of the hall or outside of school and say, "See you next year." You've known you did your job when they actually talk and give you praise.

They (the district and administrators) will mold you or else it's out the door. We live in such a litigious time where we become too cautious of one another.

I was kind of kind of offended by your comment regarding ABCTE, but I'll let it slide. I was a Film major back in school and as they say, "What you can't do....." I learned the fundamentals of pedagogy and become a master of the content, but no teacher can ever become a teacher until it's just you and 20-odd something students.

I have to commend you on your courage. I'm only 28 and I shouldn't be giving advice (what the fawk do I know?), but you must, and I insist this: WRITE. You've found your calling. Now do it. You are the second teacher (besides Matthew Quick, author of "Silver Linings Playbook") I ran across that inspired to at least give it a shot at what I secretly, deep down, want to do in life: write.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Turner,
It is ironic how this is deja vu for Dr. Bessendorfer. Check her name and its' association with REED SPRINGS. Check out why her husband left teaching? Check out why that community chased her out and Jim Simpson SAVED her in Joplin. She pulled the exact same thing in REED SPRINGS to another teacher. One of the questions asked by REED SPRINGS CITIZENS was "why they were losing ALL of their good teachers", oddly the SAME question is being asked here. There is also some rumor floating out there about her being asked to leave in a couple of other districts as well. I would guarantee that this "lady" was the "district employee" who filed the charges. I think it would be interesting for the Globe to research the trouble that has followed her from district to district. And how she appoints former sorority sisters in charge of curriculum and now as a building principal. I think that it would also to be your advantage to have the Globe do some more research on the trips to Germany and Dubai all made this year. And how family members attended BOTH trips. Sure would be nice to take a vacation in the middle of the school year, huh? The same thing has happened at a few other buildings this year and includes several teachers non-renewed because of bully administrators. Please encourage your contacts in the news media to unleash the truth about Dr. B.

Anonymous said...

Shelley,

This isn't Tea Party behavior. The Tea Party is all about restoring limited government and preserving Constitutional rights for all Americans. This seems to be about an agenda and intolerance. They didn't seem to want to hear his side of anything. They treated him as if he had no rights at all.

Anonymous said...

Also, Jason Weaver is a panty waste. Between him, "Bud" and everyones favorite "Dr. B", you were screwed once they collaborated. As far as Ruth D.'s comment, oh yeah, gues who was in the midle of it, oh, I know, I know!!! Your friend and mine, Dr. B!!! Then she had to fire the person she had lie to take over that Principal position at CF. There needs to be a THOROUGH investigation of the Joplin School District leader, their back ground and tax payer money.

Anonymous said...

Randy, this makes me so sad. I have read your blog for years. I hope you are able to get your job back or a nice fat settlement from the school district. What they have done to you is despicable.

Anonymous said...

Randy.....You were railroaded out of your job by angry administrators. Honestly, I have used Tom Carver when he was an NEA retained attorney in Springfield.He is the best. Doug Harpool might want to sue them as well. I looked on an MSTA website and it said the Sunshine Laws are supposed to apply by statute to teacher firings and the public is supposed to be invited. I don't think you got those in a guy showing up at your house with papers saying you were fired.This whole deal was rotten and they planned to screw you. They had no intention of hearing your side, just sending you off.

Anonymous said...

Randy....I found this on the MSTA site. What Due Process Are Tenured Teachers Entitled Before Their Employment Can Be Terminated.
A school board cannot terminate a teacher's indefinate contract until after it has served the teacher with written charges specifying the grounds it believes exist for termination and NOTICE TO A RIGHT TO A HEARING. A teacher who wants a hearing must request it within 10 days of receiving the notice and charges. If no request for a hearing is made within 10 days, the board may, by majority vote, terminate the contract. The school board may suspend a teacher while termination proceedings are pending but it must continue to pay the teacher's salary during a suspension.
At a termination hearing, the teacher may be represented by legal counsel and may cross examine witnesses called by the board against the teacher. The teacher may subpoena witnesses to appear and testify on his/her behalf, but the board may limit the teacher to 10 witnesses. By statute, termination hearings are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. The school board must pay all costs of the proceedings except for the teacher's attorney fees, if any. The board has seven days after it recieves the hearing transcript to render its decision and it must provide a written decision to the teacher within three days after the vote.
Does it sound to you like the board or your NEA representative neglected to provide you with any or all of this information? It does to me.

Anonymous said...

Most of the comments here are a joke. No one in MO is going to do anything about this except vote republican because some one some where might get something they are and .... moochers!!!1!!!

This teacher is toast.

Luis Gabriel Aguilera said...

Sorry this happened to you, mate. Have you considered filing a lawsuit of this nature: http://issuu.com/luisgabrielaguilera/docs/luisaguileravschicagopublicschools

Randy said...

With what I have written on this blog and on my Facebook page over the last 48 hours, I have had a tendency to forget which things I have written where. The headline for this post was designed to reflect the administration's intent. As was pointed out in an earlier comment, I am a tenured teacher, I do have a right to have a hearing and it has been scheduled for May 9. I am being ably represented by an attorney working with the NEA.

Anonymous said...

I taught at this school directly after the incident that she is talking about above. that story is 100 percent truthful and this administration has to be stopped. they tell us to teach our students about bullying and how to prevent it and how to talk to someone about it, but to be honest this school district is the biggest bully I have ever seen. they have to be stopped before and no one will want to teach these precious children in this precious area ever again because of how scared they are of this district. they forced me to quit two years ago because of parent didn't like that I didn't refer their child for upper level classes and now I suffer the consequences because that parents made a large donation to the tornado relief fund for the school district. I can sleep at night and hold my head up high, knowing that I did the best I knew how for each child that walked into my classroom everyday, and you can too.

Anonymous said...

we have to stop her she is making good people that love children and that love to help and teach children never want to teach again because she is such a bully

Anonymous said...

She is so money hungry for the District to have this fabulous new high school that she is draining are teachers effortlessly. there are too many changes trying to be implemented in the district at one time which is setting everyone up for failure and making her look like an idiot. The public needs to know what she's doing and we need to get together and face her and show her what it feels like to be bullied like she likes to do toeveryone else.

Anonymous said...

In reference to Ruth d's post, from what I know about the deplorable Cecil Floyd case 5 years ago and Randy's case,a difference is that this one involves a professional writer exercising his first amendment right to free speech, which should eventually involve the ACLU, and, hopefully, soon will be spotlighted on the national media.

Anonymous said...

This is absolustely dispicable. the school district, the state of MO, and the States government itself should just be completly in shame at this point. One of my favorite teachers for sure, always helped, never got unpatient with a student, and this happens. you were absolutly the best teacher not just in the middle school, but in the district period. I wish you the best

Anonymous said...

If you Google Angie B's name and Reeds Springs, MO you'll see she did something similar there in 2007 with a beloved Biology teacher, Mr. Collins. There is a pattern here.

Anonymous said...

Would I want my 13 year old daughter to have a teacher that wrote a fictional book that includes a rape that occurs inside the school? I don't know. There were obvious details that were included in that book that you drew from real life. When you included the superintendent getting his picture taken with every child entering kindergarten as part of the fictional story you were drawing from the reality of the R-8 school district.

Anonymous said...

Better safe than sorry when it comes to the people who have access to our children. There isn't anything obscene in your book but should a middle school teacher be writing fictional books that include a rape in the hallway of the school? Probably not. Do you accept any responsibility for this situation?

Anonymous said...

I am confused about how a recording of the interview with the HR person is posted here if the recording of such interview is forbidden by district policy. Will students think the secret recording -- even when it's clearly forbidden in writing and verbally at the beginning of the interview -- is OK since Mr. Turner did it? Can't claim ignorance of the district policy or "gray area" on that one, right?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous who posted at 2:38 PM, was the rape scene symbolic? satiric? Certainly Jonathan Swift in his essay "A Modest Proposal" wasn't suggesting that the solution to overcoming the poverty and over-population of the poor was to fatten up and feed the children of Ireland to the wealthy.

Anonymous said...

To 3:12, district policy may say one thing but if state law allows the recording, then it's perfectly legal. I'm thankful Randy is not intimidated by unconstitutional district policies, as many teachers are. And I think recording this meeting was a great idea.

rob Erman said...

I chuckled at the reference above to "A Modest Proposal". I've thought about that work a handful of times since the beginning of this debacle.

I think it important, however, to remember that nowhere in No Child Left Alive is the book ever stated as a piece of satire regarding a specific situation or a direct allegory to any particular person or place.

I do believe it to be a social commentary on our state of education, but any resemblance to real life personas *should* be considered, perhaps, a sign of ego or insecurity. I am confident that any school district across the nation could find similar 'characters' in their employ and also draw comparison between fiction and the real life struggles of educators in today's society.

I would hate to think any members of the R-8 admin would be so petty(or paranoid) as to believe their specific personal shortcomings were used as a template for villainous acts or characters in the novel. That would be...disturbing-not to mention quite telling...

Anonymous said...

I did some student teaching hours at a Joplin Middle School earlier this year and there were 7th and 8th grade students talking about STD's, their pregnancy scares, drugs, and many other things. So I dont understand why it is being implied that Mr. Turners 8th grade students could have learned anything new from his book. Because I garantee that they already knew all of the things in his book.

Anonymous said...

I too was an R-8 teacher...ran out...by a principal and Dr. B...and the former HR lady....that was let go mid year after harassing me..... ughhh worst decision ever was to become a teacher for the R-8 district .... I too had a suit against the district ...but I dropped it to teach else where.... the district is out of control with power/control freak administrators.... I too was a popular teacher the kids loved.... I think that was part of the problem ...they don't want teachers who the kids love.....I was not a drone...the kids loved me...and administration doesn't care for those who are popular and aren't one of their Dr. B drones...

Anonymous said...

To anonymous student teacher at the middle school - who are you to "guarantee" (that is how it is spelled) what my 13 year old daughter knows? I don't think teaching is your true calling.

Anonymous said...

I saw on your FB page you felt a few comments were bullying. I suggested this whole debacle was a mistake. I came to this conclusion after listening to the recording where YOU said you didn't mean to post that link which included a recommendation for current and former students to read that book. And a fictional attempted rape inside the school is still very creepy when written by an 8th grade teacher.

Anonymous said...

The Joplin R-8 School district is an absolute joke.I also taught for the district for 4 years.After the tornado, I was told to teach at another school because the numbers proved that I wasn't needed at the school I previously taught.After I moved, two days before the first day of school, I found out that my position was already filled and my room was replaced by a new teacher for the same grade I previously taught.Joplin R8 has a bad reputation of trying to tear down a teacher until they have no strength left to fight.After starting my 4th year, I realized that the move proved the best decision for me because of the dreadful principal listed in Ruth D's statement. After making that grade-level and school change, I realized how much happier I was to be away from her.Then, a few days before my open house during the start of my 5th year, I was called to a meeting at the admin building.I asked my principal what it was in regards to and she wouldn't tell me (obviously the element of surprise would've been risked and they wouldn't have been able to fully bully me throughout the entire meeting if I had a heads up).I called my MSTA rep and he jointed me in the meeting. As I was waiting for the lovely Dr.B to get there, she and the 'ever so clever' HR lady came strolling by like they were window shopping at the local mall and my purse caught their eye.Dr.B's response was...'I just love your COACH bag, where did you get it'? HR chimed in with her positive response as well and I provided the requested info about my bag. She asked us to join her in her office and we followed.They asked me if I had any of my students as 'friends' on my private facebook page and I responded with a truthful 'NO'.Then Dr.B pulled out her personal phone which had a screen shot of my facebook account, which we weren't 'friends', so she had to have gotten it from someone else. The screen shot was a picture of a silly dress that was hanging on a hanger for an ad.The dress had a mesh top with giant hand prints that were used to cover the bust. I posted that I liked the dress and that I definitely would think twice before wearing it to open house...lol.Anyone that has taken more time to know me than talk about my purse would know that I would never even think about wearing that dress, but let alone wear it to an open house.Then, I later found out that a wealthy doctor in our town made a sizeable donation to the Joplin Tornado Relief Fund after I was forced to leave.This same doctor yelled at me in a meeting about me not suggesting his daughter for advanced classes shortly before my resignation.This school district bullied me into quitting because they knew that I wouldn't want to run my family business into the ground by going public.Dr.B made it perfectly clear that her intention was to go public with the media about my post if I didn't resign and told me that everyone likes to believe the bad stories about teachers.I found it very suspicious that the large donation was given immediately after I resigned.The school district made us sit through meetings about bullies and bully prevention, but they are the biggest bullies of them all.Dr.B is a joke and should be publically humiliated just like she enforced on all of those teachers whom she made walk the walk of horror and shame out of their classrooms and school buildings.I sit back and pray for the day that she is away from our influential youth and lets good teachers do their jobs and actually educate our precious youth.I can rest my head at night knowing that I did my job for these Joplin kids to the best of my abilities and know that I gave my students everything I had, plus some.Now that I've taken a year and a half off from teaching to help with the family business, I feel like a giant boulder of stress and heartache has been lifted and my life is much more pleasant without the Joplin R8 admin involved.

Anonymous said...

School board members take note: when Dr. B caused her problems in Reed Springs, 4 out of the 7 Board members were replaced in the next election. If you enjoy the honor of serving on the board, I recommend that you eat out her $150,000+ salary and get her and the HR staff out as quickly as you can before the people vote you out as quickly as they can.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see how many teachers from Carthage, Joplin, Reed Springs have been bullied by Dr. B. I know of a situation this year where a large group of teachers stood up against a bully administrator this year. Dr. B scheduled a meeting with them. HR lady showed up. While one teacher, crying, was telling of her horror experiences with this administrator, the HR Kingpin interrupts and arrogantly states "I hope that this does not take much longer, I have a hair appointment". Wow.....If the R-8 school board knew this was going on, would they allow it? Or, do they know it is going on and condone this type of bullying behavior? When is the Globe, Media, and R-8 School Board going to investigate? How many careers and lives have been ruined by Dr. B? How many more will they allow?

Anonymous said...

HERE IS A BLURB FROM DR. B LEGENDARY REEDS SPRING EXPERIENCE:
I was on the KOLR 10 website and read a few interesting things about what is going on with the school and they both made a lot of sense. I'll post each one with separate topics because I think posting them together makes them way too long.

One of the kids from school wrote: "REEDS SPRING IS A MESS". There have been a few replies to him and they do make a lot of sense, so I included them both in with this post. The replies so far have been very positive, so it is worth your time to go over there and perhaps also post something. I just really think if our kids know we are behind them, they will start coming out vocally. We do need to let them know that their voice counts and they are what is so important here. There are a lot of "things" coming out right now due to what I will now just call "The Big Fiasco" and we need for our kids not to be afraid to come forward.


Here is the student's post: "Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2007

I am a student at Reeds Spring High School. First off let me tell you all about the two boys who caused the best teacher the district had, Mike Collins to lose his job. These students are thugs. They pick on other kids and push them around and are very violent at times. So how can we let the two school bullies cause the loss of our great teacher? These students don't even attend Reeds Spring any more.
There are also other reasons why the school boared and our no good supernintendent wanted Mr. Collins gone. We have an awsome recycling center at our school called the R project. The adminsistration thinks it cost us money but it acctually doesnt and Mr. Collins would stop them from removing the program.
Angie Besendorfers husband Ron Besendorfer was put on administration leave for sexual harrasment which he has been turned in for many times and nothing has been done. One of my friends even tells me of a time he got physical with her and she reported it and nothing was done. Its about time he left the district. So how can these no good people in the school board give her a raise? Teachers are resigning because they are afraid to say anything. Well I have ties to the ditrict which prevents me from revealing who I am. Something needs to be done at my school and the first thing should be is to get rid of Angie Besendorfer. "

Here are the two replies to this student:

Many have questioned the lack of outside involvement in the allegations against Mr. Besendorfer (meaning law enforcement). I have been wondering, however, have the students actually reported the incidents to law enforcement or just the school? I do not ask this to offend in any way, but some folks assume if they report to the school the school reports it on down the line. As we can see here though, they report what they want. I would urge you to speak to your friend and if she has not gone directly to law enforcement to report it, please encourage her to. As long as there is substance to her accusations, she should be fine and the authorities will be able to investigate and put these matters behind all involved one way or the other.

In the future, at least for awhile, I think you kids should consider utilizing a different resource in your building other than your current staff and administration. I have no clue if he is the most or least popular man on campus, I have heard stories both ways of course, but Officer Burns is readily available and I believe he is still a commissioned officer under Stone County even though employed on our campuses. Especially for matters regarding major criminal and legal issues, such as the allegations against Mr. Besendorfer, he would probably be the safest person to talk to and I would imagine does not have to follow the chain of command that ends with the law of Queen Besendorfer.

Anonymous said...

From Randy's account of the meeting attendees, it appears "Dr. B" was not present. Why so many negative comments about her?

Anonymous said...

Um, because Dr. B is in charge of HR and sends her person to do her bidding. Get it?

Ruth d said...

Isn't is strange that today I heard that some Joplin employees were told to stay away from this site. Do not go near this blog or make comments. Could it be that some people are afraid the truth is finally coming out??? Too bad it has taken so many years. But then all these good people were not fired in one day...that might draw too much attention! I'd like to know in what job are you told what you can or cannot read, who you can or cannot talk to, or what you can or cannot say. Open your eyes, Joplin. There's a sickness in our district that never used to be here and we know where it came from and with whom it started. Have our School Board members closed their eyes to all this? I talked to several members over 5 years ago about the Cecil Floyd incident, and what they promised would happen never did come to be. That school community slowly died and no one cared. They were too weak then and are either too weak or not concerned now. Or maybe they don't know or have closed their eyes and ears to the truth. I can't speak for them but they are supposed to speak for and represent us, the Joplin community.

Anonymous said...

Keep fighting Randy!!! There are so many people behind you all the way.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully your legal counsel has the abilities of Tom Carver. Mr. Carver may be one of the leading civil rights attornies in the country.

Approaching this issue from a civil rights viewpoint could be the way to establish grounds for how to handle the HR's missteps; termination; and, ground work to eliminate this type of individual from ever being involved in HR management..........forever.

Mr C said...

Nothing amazes me with the district. Had issues with one of my children and drugs. Doing some investigation I uncovered the names of several kids selling in the school. I call principal, he says "I'll see you a week from Thursday". Obviously he considered it so important.
Raided a party my child was at, and called the police. Who showed up to deny police access to this drug den? Why our local elementary school pricipal.
Contacted both the school board and superintendants office. Their coment was the princiapl "did nothing wrong." My comment was
"ok, let me share with the elementary school she heads up how their princiapl deals with drugs at the next dare assembly."
The whole lot of them are corrupt.

Anonymous said...

I taught in Joplin for one year and knew by October I did not want to return. Teacher morale was so low that some veteran teachers got together to brainstorm ideas to help boost morale starting on the building level. Simpson found out and showed up to intimidate the teachers who were just trying to help make things better. It was all downhill from there.

Anonymous said...

I have a loved one who was forced out of the R8 district by these cronies. It is horrible how they bully teachers who are passionate about their discipline.

PLEASE, Mr. Turner, pay special attention to Bessendorfer's past at Reeds Spring. As an alum, and personal friends with Mr. Collins, I can tell you everything you ready about her and her husband is true.

She's a monster that has no place in education. Nearly every admin under her is loyal to their cult of hatred - let's do what we can to escort THEM out!

Austen :) said...

Ah, you've just got to love Joplin. They think that everything that is written has some ulterior motive and that it you were telling your students download this sexual explicit book and read it and talk about it. No, you wrote on a blog, with very little monthly users, connecting a real-life event and something you wrote for a more mature audience. Still, you've got to love Joplin, because there is no way the board can fire you on these grounds.

On the bright side, you have all of this time that you can get paid to read all day. Talk about a dream job.

Love,
Austen

World Vibes Radio said...

Sounds like an open ended law suit to me, where are those high powered D.C. attorneys when you need them, this is precedence setting information! When a teacher can be fired because he is an author is incomprehensible...

Anonymous said...

Since it is prohibited to record the meetings, how did you get a recording of your interrogation?

Anonymous said...

Their main job isn't supposed to be making folks suffer. They're supposed to be taking care of educating our kids. But they spent all those millions of Bama Bucks on new jobs and trips and things just got a helluva lot worse. And there's facts and numbers to prove that. They've never had to answer up for anything they've done. Maybe this will be enough to stop all their crap. They ought to be run off just on those bad numbers alone.

Anonymous said...

Hmm,

I wonder if all those district employees who had questionable departures could file a class action civil suite against the district and the administrators?

The board is to blame as well for being so blind and ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Bama Bucks,

You are absolutely right. So much money has been wasted. Trips, trips and more trips. Besendorfer has been on vacation for months. With Joplin being such a poverty stricken area, the school admin sure gets to travel alot.

Anonymous said...

This year was my my wife's first year teaching in the Joplin R-8 district, and I knew before the end of the first quarter, that it would be her only year teaching for this district. She was a well loved and valued teacher for another district who only came to Joplin to make me happy. I thought I was doing the right thing in asking her to make the move, as teaching in Joplin would save her travel time and allow her to be in a district that paid more.

There is no other decision in my life that I regret more! The building level administrator's have tried their best to bully her all year into becoming a Joplin drone. The very teaching practices, philosophies, and classroom management skills the principal told my wife they were looking for when he hired her are all things they refused to let her implement once she was in the classroom.

They will not control student behaviors and blame the teachers for low morale. To me it is no wonder the district has low morale as they make a practice of beating down good teachers.

While my wife has not had a direct run-in with Dr. B, she has had multiple meetings with building level admin. in which she was told she needed to embrace doing things the "Joplin Way" if she wished to continue in the district.

Thankfully, she does not wish to continue with the Joplin school district, and I cannot blame her. EVERYTHING I have heard, and witnessed, in this district makes my blood boil! The Joplin school district needs to focus less on being in the news and more on educating their students!

I know that there are still good teachers in Joplin; unfortunately, this top-heavy administration values blind obedience more than they value dedication to the craft of teaching or one's students.

My wife and I are strong supporters of education, and always have been; our daughter is even pursuing teaching as her career. We have told her repetitively that Joplin is NOT a district where teachers are valued or supported and that she should look elsewhere for a position when she graduates.

Anonymous said...

There does seem to be a pattern of abuse of power in Joplin. How they get away with it is the question. Don't you wonder what goes on behind the scenes? Are they ever audited about the money they spend? Where are the parents and tax payers? We wouldn't put up with this where I live.

Anonymous said...

Here is a list of some of the well know drones:

Robin Duke: besendorfers' college sorority sister, was a TLC, now Sped facilitator, next Director of Sp Ed.

Jill Flakney: was a TLC, now a principal.

Karen Secrest: was a TLC, is a VP, will be a principal.

Terri Hart: was a TLC, is Director of Curriculum, will be an a principal.

Sarah Stevens: is a TLC, next Director of Curriculum

Does anyone see a pattern here? TLCs were and are basically besendorfer's spies. All have been rewarded for their loyality to the queen.

Anonymous said...

Strangely, what is going on in R8 is similar with what's going on in Carl Junction. Teachers being forced to resign ( or lose a good reference ) , teachers being non renewed on medical leaves, teachers being terminated because of what they say after school ours...and Phil Cook herding all the discords out of his district. Maybe one of those people have inside info on Carl Junction like Randy has... Audio, memos, etc

This movement towards teachers standing up starts with Randy Turner. More will come forward.

Good job, Randy. Let people know that the teachers in the trenches will not be bullied by arrogant administrators anywhere....

Anonymous said...

Top Ten reasons to get rid of Randy Turner

1. He is always one of the first people to show up for work each morning.

2. He is usually one of the last ones to leave.

3. He is always at work. It took a pacemaker operation last year to make him miss even a couple of days of work.

4. He has always gone above and beyond to help his students and his fellow teachers.

5. Each year, he organizes a benefit show at the school to raise money for charity.

6. He has brought positive attention to the Joplin School District time after time with his writing, including chapters in his tornado books that praised the job done by school administrators after May 22.

7. He has always taken the time to help younger teachers.

8.As it has become obvious since this nonsense began, the kids adore him.

9. The Golden Eagle Award goes to the top teacher in our school.. The first year it was awarded, we presented it to two teachers and one of them was Randy Turner. I would prefer to forget the other one.

10. Randy Turner is a damned good teacher. Taking him out of the classroom is a crime.

We can't talk or we will suffer the same treatment as he did, but the teachers in this school district are solidly behind Randy.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Turner I am confused about what it is you are wanting the outcome to be here. You haven't been fired. You were placed on leave until a hearing has been held. It is the duty of the district to be vigilant about the STUDENTS' well being. Why didn't you just respect that policy, attend the hearing, present your truth and have faith that you didn't cross the line? But to secretly record the meeting, post that recording and loudly criticize the administration of the school district you WORK for WHEN YOU STILL HAVE your job seems to be the actions of someone who WANTS to be fired.

Anonymous said...

That last acomment sounds like an administration plant to me. Let's face it. If Randy Turner shuts his mouth, he is gone just like so many others that Angie Besendorfer has railroaded in the past. The problem is not that Randy recorded the meeting, but that the others were not allowed to record their meetings and show how Angie Besendorfer's Gestapo operates.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...9:15's post sounds like a Dr. B drone. I interpret Mr. turner's actions to be that of a person who dislikes being railroaded. The district is systematically trying to strip its teachers of their rights. The district policy against taping meetings flys in the face of state law.

The district has also changed its policies to deprive staff of their right to have representation when confronted by administration. That would be like making a bullied student sit down and 'work things out; with no one else present but those who have bullied him.

He did not break the story, but he is telling his side. After all, if he won't who will? The administration obviously was uninterested in hearing his side. I mean, really, the charge of encouraging his students to read sexually explicit material is totally bogus. You can walk into any library in any of Joplin's three middle schools and find material that is far more explicit, and since it's on the school's shelves aren't they 'encouraging' students to read it?!

I don't think he wants to be fired, but rather I think he wants the truth to come to light. The district WANTS all this to be hush hush, so they can sweep him out the door without any fuss. Let's face it, if Mr. Turner hadn't posted the audio and told his side everyone would have just assumed the district was right.

I think EVERYONE who has expressed any interest in this case should attend Mr. Turner's hearing on May 9th, hear both sides, and make their own decision! I know I plan to be there!

Anonymous said...

Hmm...9:15's post sounds like a Dr. B drone. I interpret Mr. turner's actions to be that of a person who dislikes being railroaded. The district is systematically trying to strip its teachers of their rights. The district policy against taping meetings flys in the face of state law.

The district has also changed its policies to deprive staff of their right to have representation when confronted by administration. That would be like making a bullied student sit down and 'work things out; with no one else present but those who have bullied him.

He did not break the story, but he is telling his side. After all, if he won't who will? The administration obviously was uninterested in hearing his side. I mean, really, the charge of encouraging his students to read sexually explicit material is totally bogus. You can walk into any library in any of Joplin's three middle schools and find material that is far more explicit, and since it's on the school's shelves aren't they 'encouraging' students to read it?!

I don't think he wants to be fired, but rather I think he wants the truth to come to light. The district WANTS all this to be hush hush, so they can sweep him out the door without any fuss. Let's face it, if Mr. Turner hadn't posted the audio and told his side everyone would have just assumed the district was right.

I think EVERYONE who has expressed any interest in this case should attend Mr. Turner's hearing on May 9th, hear both sides, and make their own decision! I know I plan to be there!

Anonymous said...

Wish I had recorded the things that were said to me .... glad that u had the foresight... I was to trusting ... never again ....

B.Graber said...

I just had a stage mom file 2 complaints against me about a wig her child had to wear in a recent production! She had bullied me and called me names and threatened me all over a wig! You are right there is no policy for people who bully teachers but there should be.
B.Graber

Anonymous said...

I am 9:15 and I am no plant! I have a daughter that attends East and she didn't have Mr. Turner as a teacher but many of her friends are his students and they have nothing but wonderful things to say about him. I just think his actions after being put on leave seem so aggressive he is blowing his chance to keep his job. Most of us have a boss. Most of us would be fired if we talked badly about our boss and/or the company we work for. I DO NOT believe the R-8 school district is out to get anyone. I truly believe they work for the sole purpose of giving our children the best education possible. This may very well be an over-reaction on their part but I would much rather the admin OVER react when it comes to activities that may harm my child then cross their fingers and hope for the best. At the hearing Mr. Turner will be able to defend himself against the charges and if he is innocent he would be back at work. This is the admin that busted their butts to get our kids back to school on time after 5-22. They were amazing. I totally understand why Randy would be upset but to start a war before he even went through the process is not the way to keep his job. He knows that.

Anonymous said...

Have you been fired Mr. Turner? NO. So everyone with the paranoid delusions that Joplin is a horrible place to teach or send your children to our schools I have a suggestion. Send your kids elsewhere. Teach in another district. I can support Mr. Turner and still keep my grip on reality. I received a wonderful education in this system. My daughter is receiving a wonderful education. My mother in law has taught for 20 years for Joplin and she is happy. There is no conspiracy. The district has rules and regulations. Employees of the district are required to follow them. I would be livid if the district didn't investigate whether he urged his students to read this book. He knows this book is not appropriate for middle school students and he is aware teachers don't have the authority to teach outside the approved curriculum. As long as he didn't do those things he would be reinstated. (again I believe he doesn't want his job back based on his behavior AFTER being put on leave.) and who in the heck are all of these teachers being fired left and right? I have a family member working at the 11/12 campus, a child at East, a child at Kelsey Norman, nieces at Stapleton. Joplin passed the bond issue so the majority of Joplin obviously trusts the admin and the board.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a blog where I could support you because I believe that you did not intentionally recommend this book to your students therefore I don't want you to lose your job but not have to be part of the ugly, personal and hateful attacks on Joplin, R-8 district, and the extremely mean spirited attacks on specific people? I read these and find myself scared at the ferocity of hatred for my city, my school district and the people who have been named in many of the posts. Mr. Turner please take a deep breathe, take your evidence to the hearing and act responsibly and sensibly to this situation. Admit that link was a huge error and unintentional. Take in the parental permission slips to refute that one charge. If you want to teach these kids again (and so many of them want you to be their teacher and are fighting for you) shut down the hate, blame blog and put the anger/embarrassment on the back burner for the kids and yourself. This can be a defining moment where your behavior can show kids how to handle a situation that seems hopeless.

Anonymous said...

9:15 asks: "Why didn't you just respect that policy, attend the hearing, present your truth and have faith that you didn't cross the line?"

The same goes both ways. If you think Randy Turner has just cause to be let go, why do yo feel compelled to leave a series of petty comments? Why not trust that the system will see it your way? Whether you are a member of the Globe, the school, or some other organization, why do you seethe with personal hatred for Mr. Turner (underneath a false veneer of detached professionalism)?

The teachers and their friends have a reason to write; they are fighting for their dignity, their reputations, their livelihoods. You write simply to create more pain. This contrast reveals something about your soul, regardless of who you are.

Anonymous said...

I have NO hatred for him. I believe without a doubt he did not intentionally try to get his students to read this book. I believe it was a mistake. An accident. I keep reading his blogs and Facebook because I don't think he deserves to lose his job over that link to an article that recommended the reader read his book. I believe him when he says he used William turner instead of Randy turner because he was being a good teacher and wouldn't want his students to read his book that he acknowledges is not suitable for middle school students. I can imagine how horrible it must have been for him to have the whole escorted out of the building by a cop. I believe (from my child's friends' reports and from the EMS roundabout blog I have read ever since my daughter started going to east) Mr. Turner is a teacher that has the ability to be one of those teachers who can make a difference in his students' lives. I don't think the admin is wrong for being cautious and taking any and every possible misconduct seriously. I just happen to believe that at the hearing Mr. Turner would be granted his right to set the record straight. I read it and yes I do see where the fictional characters do seem to be based (loosely) on his bosses but that is not a legal reason to fire him. The whole link to an article from a blog that he has labeled as a blog for his students is where he probably could be legally fired. But I believe in a hearing he could save his job. I wanted him to save his job. But releasing the audio (although expressly prohibited by school policy) and letting his blog become a full out attack on not only decent people who are doing their job but again on his bosses and the "company" he works for. I almost feel like I want him to keep his job more than HE wants to keep it. I can't be the only person reading this blog who understands what I am saying here.

Anonymous said...

I don't think nice people doing their jobs explain what they are doing and have done to Mr. Turner and countless others.Some people cannot think to the tips of their noses and we a have all met people who are all ego and power crazed which the more this story evolves the light that it put Joplin Public Schools is by no way any fault of Mr. Turners. Just because it is said does not make it true.Recording the conversation, was he under arrest? I look forward to when he is afforded access to the court.

Anonymous said...

To: 6:30

(this is "5:44" btw)

You sound more reasonable than I have perhaps read into your comments, and if so I apologize. I don't think your points here are unreasonable, and so I apologize for projecting things into you based upon other anonymous comments. Not in a "sorry you were offended" way, but sincerely.

At the same time, there is an imbalance of power in this situation. Administration carries with it some natural authority both in terms of their real ability to affect the livelihood of teachers, and in a social sense in that the public are likely to defer to their opinions on the basis of trusting that authority. Additionally, the people who make the ultimate decision are likely to be closer to administration than to teachers. This is why it is important to have a public forum where these ideas and issues can be discussed, because it is too optimistic to assume that things will naturally turn out okay. This is not a courtroom with the controls necessary for "fair and impartial" juries, this is Mr. Turner and other teachers against a system already biased against them by virtue of its structure.

We see that at least one administrator involved has a history in another community with striking parallels to the current situation (an oppressive working atmosphere, controversial firings). We are hearing similar stories in our own community from obviously heartbroken people. At the same time, the charges against Mr. Turner appear blown out of proportion, technical offenses that seem exaggerated - compensating instead with the suggestion of sexual impropriety in an effort to shape opinion.

I apologize again for my own harshness, and I recognize that it is not appropriate to go witch-hunting in the opposite direction, but this may be the only forum where power can be balanced. That Turner's case may be emblematic of others with less of a voice is all the more reason to establish a precedent of open dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Unless u have worked on the inside of R-8 you really don't have any idea what your talking about...when it comes to being targeted...or seeing your colleges targeted ..they can't go after everyone ...and I am glad your mother is happy and in a good place....my first year with Joplin I loved....but even then...we had a witch hunt
At one of the elementary schools that resulted in an awesome principal removal.
another teacher removed..and 2 others threatened..
all because they made Dr. B look bad...it is a long story... but needless to say both were reinstated because there was no real reason for their removal ...except that it was what she wanted..that was just one school..the next year it was a witch hunt for 3 other teachers in a different building.... I have worked in other districts and never seen what I saw and experienced at joplin..the kids still get a good education dispite Dr. B and her drones,..not because of her and the majority of the administration...the moral at the last building I was at was the worst I have ever felt...those teachers were scared to breathe wrong...that is no way to
Have to teach..it was awful... so unless you have had to work under that district you have no ground to say much on what it's like to work in Joplin R-8...

Anonymous said...

7:10 I hear you completely! I just read something that I think confirms my feeling he isn't looking to get his job back. His kickstarter campaign started a few days ago to raise $40k for him to write 2 books. More power to him! I would have a hard time going back to work after being escorted out too. I am sad to think we will never get to the bottom of this - was it based on the fact that in his book he seemingly based 2 characters on his 2 bosses (which is not misconduct in my mind) or based on the link on his blog for students that recommended they read his book that is very very inappropriate for kids? Since I don't think he is wanting to get back to that job we will never know for sure what the board would decide.

Anonymous said...

Many teachers ARE leaving the district. They can't take it anymore. But what about those of us who live here? This is our home, where we went to school, and where our kids go to school. Do we stand back quietly and watch it all be destroyed? Our anger is because we want to do what our students need, but we can't. My daughter goes to school here and she gets little instruction in multiplication, spelling rules, or cursive writing, and she spends little time reading for pleasure. They have keyboarding lessons during library time. I make up for all of that at home, because I don't want her brain to be dependent on Google. They need the basics before they need Google. Castles shouldn't be built on sand.
If all the teachers leave who are unhappy, there won't be very many left. Randy's situation is just a symptom of a much bigger problem. For the complete picture, you will have to do some research to see how the scores have gone down for the last 5-6 years, even after millions of dollars have been spent on questionable job positions. There are now FOUR people in curriculum. There is one for secondary and one for elementary. There is one to replace Ms. Hart. And Angie. There was only one person in that department when I was hired and we were more successful back then.
Don't judge us until you've been in our place. We're mad because we care. This is our community, you know. We pay taxes and we vote. We work and worship here. We aren't here to boost our ambitions. We live here and want to teach to the best of our abilities without the constant changes and problems and threats.

Randy said...

To answer 8:15 a.m., the Kickstarter campaign was not started in response to my current situation with the joplin School District. It was always intended to go along with my Huffington Post article in which I recommended that young people not go into teaching (and my current situation lends some credence to that thought). I not only intend to do everything I can to keep my job, but I see absolutely no reason why there should even be a hearing. It is obvious from the audio and from the charges against me, that there was never any reason for administrators to think I was any kind of danger to children or that I had done anything inappropriate. On the contrary, it appears to have everything to do with the content of the book that was not included in the charges. I should be reinstated to the classroom immediately and there was never any reason to remove me in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Turner is a great teacher. If you don't think there's something wrong with Joplin R-8 you are delusional . We do have teachers leaving left and right. Principals are being forced out because they don't agree with admin. 1 for sure this year and another who is retiring but more than likely would've stayed. The turn over here is rediculous. The last 5 years here its only got worse and worse. Maybe its time for a change. Good luck Turner hope everything works out for you!

Anonymous said...

what exactly are the teachers doing that would make her look bad? Please someone inform me on some detail that would help me understand who gets targeted and why. I don't buy the whole principals being ok with drug dealing in the schools but for someone to be accused by everyone in this blog of targeting, attacking and eliminating those who cross her there must be details that wouldn't put anyone on the spot. (other than mrs.b - cause she is getting crucified and if there is truth to her behavior getting the word out is the only way things can change.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't Angie Besendorfer be able to get rid of Randy Turner or any other lazy malcontent teacher she wants to get rid of. Itis about time someone did something about the kind of poison teachers like Randy Turner have brought to Joplin.Since Angie Besendorfer came to Joplin, she has been responsible for every good thing that has happened in our children's education. Why are the people on here jumping on someone, Angie Besendorfer, who was truly the hero of the Joplin Tornado. Her only mistake was not getting rid of Randy Turner and ending his evil influence over impressionable children. I'm with Angie all the way and so is anyone else who is in favor of good education. When she gets ride of a teacher, you know that teacher does not belong in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Dear 1:29....live in your delusion .... you have no idea unless you have worked in this system what really goes on....it was the TEACHERS that pulled that system together after the storm...NOT Besendorfer! Pleaseeee wow....ignorant statement ..smh

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a teacher in the R-8 system I can tell you the notion that the teachers had ANYTHING to do with finding, acquiring and preparing the temporary schools is CRAZY. Really? What makes you think a teacher has the authority to pull off what Huff and his team managed to do. We found out the same day as everyone else where the schools were going to be located. 1:53 where in the world did you get that idea???

Anonymous said...

Bama bucks since when is Joplin a poverty stricken place?

Anonymous said...

Its real easy to get along in joplin..keep your head down..don't challenge or have ideas of your own...and it is a great place to work!

Anonymous said...

Randy Turner is a great teacher and the staff including custodians and teachers and bus drivers are the ones that got the school's together not Dr.B she wants to take credit for everything and all she is doing is taking money from this district like the money donated from the tornado she needs to be escorted out of Joplin R8.Randy there is lot of people behind you keep up the fight font back down lets get some honest people in the administration building for once!

Anonymous said...

One might think its time for Besendorfer to start packing her bags. She has now been exposed for the shame she has brought to the district. For the board to save her would be a huge mistake considering they themselves are to blame. Does the board not question what the admin does? Do they assume they are being told the true all the time?

Mrs. Cox said...

I decided not to post anonymously. When I read the post on here, I wonder who is really writing them. Randy, I have worked with you for a couple years, and I know you love your students. I also know that they love you. You are a good teacher and the kids need you. This site is horrible, and I hope that our students never read it!

What started as a teacher upset at the way he was treated has turned into a Dr. B. bashing. Why?? We teach our students to stand up for themselves, and not to bully. This site is full of hatred and bullying. I have taught in the district for fifteen years. I know we’re not a perfect district, but who is? What I do know is that when the tornado hit we lost our schools and several students. Through our strength, and unity, we showed the world how strong our district was. We became family and took care of each other. We need to continue to set good examples for our students.

I have nothing against Dr. B. and Dr. Huff. I have taught both of Dr. B’s daughters, and she has always treated me with respect. I’m not taking sides, because I respect you as a teacher...But this site is wrong!

Mrs. Cox said...

I just reread my post and I want to add something. I do respect you as a teacher, but I don't respect the way that you are handling this. Let things die down, go to your hearing, and stand up for yourself. Make your students proud. Don't bring us down in your fight. Maybe I shouldn't have posted a comment, but as everyone knows I say what's on my mind.

Anonymous said...

Mrs.Cox is my hero. God bless her!

Anonymous said...

To 1:29:

I can't decide what is the worst part of your comment. You obviously have lost track of the issue at hand. It isn't who wore the cape and was the true hero after the storm. And it isn't about Mr. Turner being a lazy malcontent or an evil influence, or worse, a provider of poison. Your language is very melodramatic and obviously puts you in the group wanting to be an administrator, if you're not already. Angie's success as an educational leader is measured in numbers. Her numbers have gone consistently down since she came to town. So, drop the drama and argue the facts and issues at hand. Your nose is brown enough, I'm sure. And since you posted anonymously, it was a wasted effort, unless she knew you were writing for her. If I was that big a fan, I'd want her to know.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Cox,
Apparently, not everyone has had the same rosy experience that you enjoyed. I believe they have the right to express their displeasure without being lectured like they were in middle school. I agree that some of the vitriol is unproductive, and much of it has nothing to do with the issues at hand, which are about a teacher being accused of something immoral and the right to representation that was taken away from us, without consent of the Board of Education. That's a much bigger topic than who the heroes were after the storm. If everyone would stay on topic and stick to the facts we could have a better conversation. Name calling and melodrama are being used on both sides to no good end.

Anonymous said...

I take it Mrs. Cox's that you also do not respect the way the Administration has handled this, or does that only apply to Mr. Turner?.

Anonymous said...

I take it Mrs. Cox's that you also do not respect the way the Administration has handled this, or does that only apply to Mr. Turner?.

Anonymous said...

Property Owner
Crap like this is the reason I will never vote for another school bond. I wish Mr. Turner the best and I hope that the NEA will represent him well.
Wake up property owners, you are being fleeced.

Anonymous said...

My middle school child learned in his/her first year of Joplin Middle School that simply saying that there is a zero tolerance for bullying does not mean that bullying is actually tolerated in the amount of zero. My child was injured (there was video footage) by peers in a 3 on 1 attack. His/her attackers were enmeshed with supporters of the administration referenced here. One of his/her peer attackers had a parent who was PTA president, an aunt who was school secretary and another relative who is a Dr. B ally. I made every possible effort to advocate for my child and was unsuccessful because one of my child's perpetrators was part of a protected group. I could feel how much my child's principal wanted to help me see the right thing done but his hands were tied. He couldn't go against this administration protected family with out suffering the consequences. If only simply sending my children to school in another district were as easy a solution as has been suggested. I gave up my fight against these people. I was not strong enough. I hope you win this thing. I will have 3 students in this district next year and do not feel they are safe from bullies, not from student bullies and not from adult bullies employed by the district.

Philip Rettew said...

The decline in teacher morale exists elsewhere - Mr. Turner does not sound like an exception to me. My impression is that the basic problem was born in Mr. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" mentality. It's time to admit the failings of that policy and correct them. Responsible voters should be able to remove narrow-minded self-important people from office, and all of us should elevate our sights toward a realistic achievement of what is best for our children and our entire social order. Parents do not need to control everything that goes on in the classroom. The nature of teaching requires the freedom to exercise creativity, and unnecessary interference from over-populated administration interferes with that creativity. Caring, responsible oversight and reasonable, thoughtful supervision sounds like a better policy than dictating adherence to a questionable or failing political policy.

Anonymous said...

Mr Turner is not a stupid man. He's been in the district long enough to know his fate. This is his only option unless he wants to move to another district. Go for it Randy!!!

Anonymous said...

To 9:31 PM

What is meant by Angie's numbers are down. Test scores? are down since she's been employed?

Anonymous said...

Will has everyone heard? We have a new district curriculum director, (Sarah Stevens). Ms. Stevens, comes to us highly qualified. She has 3-4 years teaching experience (elementary), 2 years as a librarian and 4 years as a TLC (drone).

Sarah is the last of the orginal TLCs. All of them now are a principals or dept director.

We should all thank Bensendorfer for an amazing choice.

And we wonder why our tests scores are so low!!!!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone besides me see a pattern to the progression up that career ladder? Does anyone anywhere think anything will get better if we keep doing the same thing over and over again? Why can't this be stopped? Who approves these hires? And, can anyone tell me how many new job positions have been created in the last six years? And where the money to pay all the extra people is coming from? I'm sure other parents and taxpayers would like to know. That MODOT Building is crammed full of offices. For what? My son and his friends want some books. Could we cut a few jobs to pay for some? Don't want to wish anyone any bad luck but this is just wrong and nobody asked me how I felt about having computers and nothing else. . All this noise over a book with some dirty scenes in it when the kids can look at all the dirty stuff they want when they get those computers home unless we watch them. I'd rather do anything else. You middle school parents just wait.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Mr. Turner!

Anonymous said...

I finished No Child Left Alive today. It is an unusual book. I wanted to skip the sex scenes to get to the other stuff. For instance

By the time her monologue ended some 15 minutes later, the board had learned of methods that would drastically increase scores on state standardized tests through a series of practice standardized tests and a required course in test taking, professional learning communities that would bring the spirit of collaboration to Franklin Heights, aligning teaching methods so students in all of the schools would be learning exactly the same thing and not be the mercy of the whims of renegade teachers, and the addition of veteran instructional coaches for every school, who could bring the benefits of their wisdom to young, inexperienced teachers (and also serve as an information pipeline to her, which she neglected to tell the board).

Where does Turner come up with these ideas? I would think it is pretty obvious.

Anonymous said...

Look it up and see how much money they spent to remodel that new admin building! They don't even own it!

Anonymous said...

There are so many issues that needed to be questioned by the board. Here are just a few:

Why would we get rid of a PDC Professional Development Committee that was an award winning model and recognized throughtout the state? Answer: Besendorfer did this, she wanted control of the money. She used this money to fund her TLCs (drones) and send them all over the country for training. Our low tests scores show how well this paid off.

Why would we rid the eMINTS progrom? Answer: Besendorfer did this. She took the eMINTS ideas and changed the name (eJoplin). She loves taking ideas from others and putting the joplin name on it. This is an example of the phrase, "The Joplin Way".

Why would we eliminate Early Lit. (reading teachers) positions? Answer: Again, Besendorfer did this. This money will now be used to place a TLC in every building. Principals were given a choice to either use that money for a Lit teacher or a TLC. Fearful of their jobs, they are choosing TLCs. Parents this means less one-on-one reading time for your kids.

So many ideas of Besendorfer need to be questioned. Mr. Turner's situation is no different. This woman has an agenda!!!

Anonymous said...

What is a TLC????

Anonymous said...

Forget the fictional parts in the book. No Child Left Alive may be Turner's best investigative work. Another excerpt from the book-

After the call ended, she dialed the high school principal’s cell.
“Bob, Abigail Saucier. We have lined up 25 substitute teachers for your classes tomorrow so you can have your teachers hear Mark Masters.”
“Dr. Saucier, are you sure that we have to send so many teachers? We are giving your SCRUTINY tests tomorrow. You know how students behave there are substitutes in the building.”
“Then you need to make sure that you keep them in order. It is important that our teachers be exposed to Mr. Masters. When we went to his seminar in Dallas this summer, he presented some ideas that could revolutionize this school district.”
“I won’t be able to keep an eye on the substitutes, Dr. Saucier. You are requiring me to be at the seminar. “
“Make sure the vice principal is up to speed. He’s a good man; I am sure he can handle it.”
“I am sure he could too, Dr. Saucier, but you are also requiring him to be there.”
“My god, Bob, you are a professional. Suck it up and get the job done. Since when does education stop just because 25 teachers and two administrators are out of the building for one day?”
Robert Stevenson sighed. “All right. We’ll be there.”
“One more thing. How are we doing with preparation for the SCRUTINY tests?”
“What do you mean preparation? Aren’t we taking these tests so we will know what we need to learn to succeed on the SAP tests?”
“Yes, but if we don’t succeed on the practice tests, we won’t succeed on the tests next spring.”
“I have a good staff here, Dr. Saucier. They will teach the curriculum and the students will be ready in April.”
“You may be willing to take a chance on that, Bob, but I am not.”
“What do you want us to do?”
“Brockton-McGill has SCRUTINY practice tests that can be taken in our computer labs or on the classroom Smartboards if the labs are full.”
A long pause followed, then Stevenson spoke, “You’re saying that you want us to take practice tests to practice for the practice tests?”
“Yes.”
“That’s teaching to the test. That’s the last thing we want to do.”
“No, Bob, it is what we have to do. If the tests are designed to show what we know about math and reading, then if we teach what is on the test our students will know enough to succeed.”
“Enough to succeed on this kind of test, but not when they get out into the real world.”

ANYONE WHO TEACHES IN JOPLIN CAN ATTEST TO THE ACCURACY OF WHAT TURNER HAS WRITTEN.

Practice tests to practice for practice tests to practice for standardized tests, pulling teachers out of their rooms every other day to attend meetings and having to pay substitutes, traveling all over the United States to attend meetings and seminars while we are in a recession and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Forget the sex scenes, it's the material about the school that is pure dynamite.

No wonder they want to get rid of him. He's a whistleblower.

Anonymous said...

From No Child Left Alive- Turner's view on the "learning coaches" (TLCs), meetings to learn how to hold meetings (Joplin teachers have had to go through that several times until they are doing things exactly the way Besendorfer wants them done and treating teachers like children. Here's another excerpt-

In a couple of seconds, the instructional coach, one had been hired for each building by Abigail Saucier, raised her hand, which was supposed to be the universal signal for silence.
The universal signal was ignored, so the woman, who had been a classroom teacher for 24 years, yelled, “If I could have your attention.”
The room quieted. There are few sadder sights than a classroom full of teachers getting in trouble.
“Before we can truly have effective meetings,” the woman said, “we have to develop the proper mindset.”
“We have been having meetings all of our lives,” Leron mumbled. There were nods all around his table.
The learning coach continued, “But before we begin…”
“We’re going to have a damned team builder,” Leron said. He stood. “We’re already a damned team, woman. We’re all united to teach children and to someday hold meetings to help those children if Dr. Saucier will ever let us.”
Not knowing quite how to react to the interruption, the instructional coach said, “I want you to number off from one to six, starting with you, Mrs. Miller.” As the teachers reluctantly counted, the coach said, “This is a fun activity I first learned when I was teaching third grade.”
“So now we’re all damned third graders,” Leron said, slamming his fist against the table. “Any more of those jelly doughnuts left?”
As the activity began, teams of adult teachers, who had spent years earning degrees that put them in the ranks of a once- revered profession, tried to move balloons in relay style from one teacher to the next, without using their hands. Despite his opposition to team builders and to meetings to learn how to hold meetings in general, the competitive fires began burning for Leron, who was loudly exhorting his team to victory.
“You can’t let us get beat by a damned special ed teacher!” he shouted.
“It’s a game, Leroy, it’s just a game,” O’Leary said, scooting under the green balloon and bumping it with his head toward Kayla.
The balloon was descending toward the floor far too fast. She lunged forward, trying to get under it, but it hit her shoulder and fell to the floor.
“Now we’ve got to start all over again,” Leron sighed. “We’re getting beat by a bunch of special ed teachers.”

-

That is what Besendorfer has reduced this school district to. Teachers are treated like children and are scared to death to say anything. Turner is not the only one who has been removed from buildings by the police. There are so many others, all good teachers, who couldn't take it any more and either took early retirement or moved to other school districts. 21st Century Learning and Best Practices are a joke.

Anonymous said...

Turner labeled No Child Left Alive as satire, but this conversation could have easily taken place in the Joplin School District, where everything is meetings, seminars, and no value is placed on teachers being in the classroom- on teachers at all for that matter. Check this one out-

“You are joking. You have to be joking.”
“What makes you think I am joking, Mr. Stevenson. Your SCRUTINY scores are terrible and your practice scores for the SCRUTINY are even worse.”
“Dr. Saucier, you’re talking about practice tests for practice tests.”
“And your point is?”
“You already have us teaching to the test; you can’t be serious about this. “
“Mr. Stevenson, you are fully aware of what is going on at this high school. Thanks to our new change in policy, Franklin Heights High has become the home to the criminals, drug users, degenerates, and malcontents who would have been shoved out on the streets last year. We are not going to be able to do anything about it, so we have to find a way to bring their test scores up.”
‘Then please let us teach. We can’t have more testing. The teachers are already on edge.”
“The teachers,” Abigail said, taking a long, deliberate pause, “are going to do whatever we tell them to do. That is in their contracts. As long as we have a rock solid curriculum, we can bring in other teachers who will do what needs to be done.”
“Dr. Saucier, teachers are the indispensable ones in this school system.”
“No, Mr. Stevenson, teachers are dispensable, and so are principals. It is the curriculum that is indispensable. Now, if we can get down to business.”
“This is going to take every bit of the joy out of learning.”
“We are not judged on the basis of how much joy our students are getting. I don’t care if they are miserable, or if the teachers are miserable as long as we bring up our scores on the SAP tests.”
Stevenson sighed. “What do you want us to do?”
“Beginning this month, we will start taking the new SAP PREP tests on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings during the third week of each month. These tests are designed to find the students who are getting left behind by the SCRUTINY tests.”
“So we will take the SAP Prep, to prepare us for the practice SCRUTINY tests which prepare us for the SCRUTINY tests which prepare us for the SAP tests.”
“Now you’ve got it.”
“Is there anything else?”
“Yes, you need to choose six teachers to send to the state capital Thursday and Friday for SAP PREP training.”
“Six teachers? But we already have eight teachers who will be attending the STAR meeting Thursday, two teachers who are on leave, and we have three more going to the LPI training Friday. How are students going to learn enough to pass these tests if they don’t have their regular classroom teachers?”
“That’s why we pay good money for trained substitutes. If your teachers can prepare decent lesson plans, the students will learn on those days when they are out of the classroom. Oh, I will also be taking Mister Tollivar with me to the Kiwanis Club meeting Friday. He will need to be at the admin building at 10 a.m. and he should be back by 2.”
“Have you run this past him?”
“He is the Teacher of the Year, Mister Stevenson. You act like he needs to be in the classroom.”
“Sorry, Dr. Saucier. I don’t know what gets into me.”

IF YOU THINK THIS IS NOT HAPPENING IN THE JOPLIN SCHOOL DISTRICT YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION! Reeds Spring's gain has been our loss.

Anonymous said...

Turner must have a crystal ball or he has been extremely observant since Besendorfer arrived. From No Child Left Alive, this is a principal who is fired for opposing administration and is escorted out of the building by a police officer:

Robert Stevenson’s tenure as Franklin Heights High School principal ended that same day, as Officer Karl escorted him from the building under orders from Superintendent Carlton Dunn.
“I’m sorry about this, Mister Stevenson,” Officer Karl said. “You deserve better than this.”
“I’m not taking it personally, Karl. You’re just doing your job.”
“What did you do to get fired?”
Stevenson smiled. “It’s not what I did. It’s what I refused to do. I have bent over backwards for the people at admin, but I refuse to lower my standards and this school’s standards any more.”
As they reached Stevenson’s car, Officer Karl said, “I’ll see to it you get your stuff.”
“Thanks, Karl. Good luck.” He added under his breath, “You’re going to need it.”

THE REASON THE PRINCIPAL IN THE BOOK WAS FIRED AND THEN HUMILIATED IS THE SAME REASON SO MANY HAVE LEFT JOPLIN IN THE SAME WAY INCLUDING RANDY TURNER- Besendorfer is a control freak with a streak of sadism.

Anonymous said...

The Joplin Schools approach to discipline under Besendorfer's reign of terror is also spelled out in No Child Left Alive-

It didn’t take long for Assistant Principal Willis Shantz to implement the changes that Robert Stevenson had refused to make.
The teachers knew Stevenson had done the best he could to protect them from the demands from the central administration office.
After the initial order to keep students in class at whatever cost, no matter what disciplinary problems they were creating had been issued, Stevenson had argued against it, noting that students who were trying to learn would be unable to do so because of the added disruptions in the classroom.
Dunn, through an Abigail Saucier memo, said, “If our teachers don’t know how to maintain discipline in their classrooms, maybe we need to find new teachers.”
At first, Stevenson followed the orders to the letter as he tried to figure out a way to deal with the chaos that had been created. There was nothing worse to Stevenson’s way of thinking than to send a troublemaker back to the same classroom on the same day without meting out some kind of punishment. Not only had the practice increased the disciplinary problems, but it had also demoralized the teachers.
After trying the system for several days and realizing the devastating effect it was having on education at Franklin Heights High, Stevenson tried placing the students in the in-school suspension room as he had always done and hope that no one from the admin building noticed.
Of course, Abigail Saucier had and demanded that the practice be stopped.
Stevenson’s next move, borne out of desperation, was to put the student into ISS, but only for the class in which the disturbance had occurred. After a few days, Abigail found an effective way to stop that practice, as well. She transferred the in-school suspension teacher to one of the middle schools, and did not replace him. Stevenson was forced to return the troublemakers to the classes after he had talked to him. He tried talking to them long enough that it would take them into the next hour, but he simply had too many duties to do that often, so the situation continued, worsening with the passing of each day.

ALMOST THE ENTIRE BURDEN OF DISCIPLINE HAS BEEN PLACED ON TEACHERS WHO ARE NOT RECEIVING ANY BACKING WHILE THE BOARD IS BEING TOLD THAT INCIDENTS ARE DOWN- OF COURSE THEY ARE. TEACHERS ARE BEING INTIMIDATED INTO NOT REPORTING THEM.

Mr. Turner, you should know this problem better than anyone since you were the teacher who was attacked by a student either last year or the year before and that student was never even put on OSS. It doesn't take long for word of that kind of thing to get around the district and it put the fear into all of us.

Anonymous said...

Amen, 3:18, amen. It's all just really sad.

Anonymous said...

What is really sad is that when Huff & Besendorfer began their reign the district was Accredited with Distinction. We are now Provisionally Accredited and next year we'll Not be Accredited.

Parents, do you know what this means?

These ship is sinking!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This entire matter provides a perfect example of why truly creative people should avoid the teaching profession. It's all about testing now with cookie-cutter professional development and Orwellian terminology. No wonder kids are disconnected. There isn't room for someone as expansive and interesting as Mr. Turner in this profession. Schools are really built to function as a nice cottage industry for incompetent administrators and contractors. Teachers are replaceable parts.

Anonymous said...

As a Parent...Am I understanding correctly?, that under Besendorfer; annual test scores are down, money spent is up, and Joplin Schools are loosing accreditation. Please supply sources, because I INTEND to be heard LOUDLY if this is true.

Anonymous said...

12:57 don't hold your breathe.

Anonymous said...

It ain't all bad. The Joplin School Board was recognized for its leadership in engaging the school community to develop an improvement plan that resulted in the Bright Futures program. Bright Futures is a rapid response system designed to meet any student’s basic needs within 24 hours. This is accomplished by matching community and individual resources to needs. A core value of Bright Futures is the belief that when a child’s basic needs are met, he or she can learn more effectively. With the Joplin School Board’s direction and planning, more than 1000 community members, parents, teachers, and students came together to develop and help sustain this community and district-wide initiative.

Anonymous said...

To 2:00,

I would never discourage generosity. It is a moral responsibility to look after our less fortunate community members. But, if Bright Futures was supposed to make students more capable of learning, then why aren't they? Scores are going DOWN, not up. Please keep giving students clothing and food and looking after them, but don't think that Bright Futures is going to solve the problems this district has made for itself.

To 12:57
What are you waiting for? If you need proof to see what the schools are doing, I found all of the evidence I need on the DESE website, which is the state's website and school performance data base. It gives you information for each school in many categories and for several years so you can see a pattern. Interesting stuff, but you have to do a little digging. It's pretty user friendly, even to those of us who aren't in education.

Anonymous said...

If the administration filed a complaint against Turner, can a complaint be filed against the administration and the board?

Anonymous said...

Even if the board or administrators can't address the Turner situation it seems like they could address the problems with the district and its leadership that have been pointed out. We haven't heard a word, so I have to believe that they don't intend to change a thing. That would mean admitting there are problems and they made mistakes, wouldn't it? Not going to happen unless we keep pushing. Is there a level over the board? Maybe at the state level? Maybe we should look at that as a possibility if something doesn't change soon.

Anonymous said...

It's going back a few years but during the Recession the district received a few million dollars thru the TARP funds. I bet that would be interesting to find out what happened to that. I'm sure the kids didn't get anything good out of it.

Anonymous said...

every new job and initiative requires a lot of people to go to a lot of training, you know. and then they come back and inflict a lot of meetings and paperwork on everyone around. and none of it does a bit of good. there is so much going on that no one can keep up and consequently, you have to begin to give up in order to survive. it is self-defeating. your tax dollars at work!

Anonymous said...

How does anyone know how much money was donated? Was there an outside source keeping track? There is so much money being spent on one thing or another. The year before the tornado teachers and staff had to give up all of their refrigerators and desk lamps in order to save electricity. Teachers were laid off with so many regrets by admin because there was such a shortage of funds. Now money gets spent left and right. I bet they think if they just wait we'll all forget and go on. I'm hoping they're wrong. We have to demand accountability.

Anonymous said...

When CJ Huff became Joplin School Superintendent in 2008, the first thing on his to-do list was raise the graduation rate. That graduation rate has been increasing each year..and this year, it's gone up even more. It was 73% when Huff came to town; now it's at 85%!!!!

Anonymous said...

More kids are graduating for sure. But he recently said in an interview that he was hired to take care of the lackluster scores of our kids. If he keeps helping them at the current rate we will be graduating more kids out of an unaccredited school system. I want more than that for my kids. I may have to move them.

Anonymous said...

I see that some of you folks are fans of Dr. Huff, and that's a good thing, I suppose. Folks ought to support their leaders. But here's the kicker, friends. Dr. Huff sent his district staff an email saying he wanted them to protect Randy Turner's privacy, cause he and his peers had just served Randy with 28 pages of charges. Now I might just be an old jayhawker, but it seems to me that this good feller has his very self violated Mr. Turner's privacy by using his name and by telling about those charges. I may be wrong on this, being as I am just an old feller from the other side of the border. Now, this can be seen a couple of different ways, don't you think? Was Huff trying to tell the teachers that they better step light or they'll be next? Was he bragging about 28 pages of trumped up crap, just to be topped with three more pages of crap that any of his first day kindergarteners could see through? Or did he think people would be impressed with those 28 pages of bull hockey. It's a tough call, that one is. And then he went so far as to say those poor folks at school didn't need to worry about talking to those media folks. Why, he offered to take care of all that all by his very own self. He says he will be the point man and handle that. And anyone can see that after telling us how smart they were to come up with 28 pages of hooey that they can surely be trusted to take care of those pesky people with the cameras and microphones with objective statements. I'm just sure that my Show Me State peers are sleeping better every night with this old boy holding the reins. I'm sleeping better knowing he's on that side of the border, for sure!

Anonymous said...

If you don't work in the district you just don't know how bad it really is. The board hasn't even recognized it.

The graduation rate is increasing, but the kids arn't learning. There is no real curriculum, because no one knows how to develop or impliment it. There has been so much money spent on stupid ideas that went no where. This is proven, look at our test scores.

I'm confused how Huff has been recognized for various awards when he is the one leading us to not being accredited. I just don't get it. How can he feel good about this?

When these two (Huff/Besendorfer) are gone how do we deal with the spones that have been placed all over the district in various administrative positions. They got these positions because they were buds of Huff & Besendorfer, not because they were the best person for the job. This alone will continue the cancer within the district.

The damage that Huff/Besendorfer have created within the district is going to have as much impact or greater to the community as the storm did a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Anyone wanting to find out Joplin Schools statistics can go to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website (dese.mo.gov) for accurate information. I'm wondering if the 85% is a projection for 2013 because the rate in 2012 was just over 78% - the highest year was 2010 with 81%. Also to be noted, in 2009 the dropout age was raised from 16 to 17 which would help the graduation rate. I have heard from some teachers that classes are being "dumbed down" to make passing easier. Does anyone know if this is true? And why would Joplin lose accreditation? I haven't heard anything about this.I don't know that any one administrator can be blamed for poor performance - there would be several factors, an important one being parent involvement. Also, there are several comments about teachers/principals being fired - who are they? Again, I don't think this was ever reported in the news and I would like to know the facts.

Anonymous said...

https://mcds.dese.mo.gov/guidedinquiry/District%20and%20Building%20Education%20Staff%20Indicators/District%20Faculty%20Information.aspx?rp:DistrictCode=049148&rp:SchoolYear=2012&rp:SchoolYear=2011&rp:SchoolYear=2010&rp:SchoolYear=2009

You have to use the drop down menu to get to the Stats; but what is clear...is that..... Teachers are leaving Joplin. In 2010 the average teacher in Joplin had 12.4 years of experience. That has dropped at a rate of .5 years the past 2 years, and now stands at 11.4 years of experience on average for teachers in Joplin. The State average yearly experience for Teachers has remained statistically steady. WHAT is causing experienced Teachers to leave Joplin. (And where is the Joplin Globe)

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is seven teachers were cut at McKinley where Terri Hart will be principal. Can someone tell us if that's true? And how many are leaving the high school? 14? Why are they going? Which subjects? Something is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely TRUE about the teachers at McKinley and the HS. That includes 2 first year teachers at McKinley who were bullied by other staff and received ZERO help from the TLC, because she was always dropping off her kid at 8am and picking the kid up at 1050, documented daily fact that she was not accounted for at either of her reporting schools at the 730 time frame, which is the requirement for all certified staff to report.
If you want to get something done, VOTE OFF THE MEMBERS OF THE CURRENT SCHOOL BOARD and FIRE the CURRENT UPPER ADMIN, ONLY THE SCHOOL BOARD CAN HIRE/FIRE THE UPPER ADMINISTRATION. However, Dr. B can FIRE staff when she is in DUBAI with husband and other BOARD members LIVING IT UP, doing "business", right.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they had furniture to test.

Anonymous said...

The list of stories and bad decisions grows longer and longer but no one is saying anything about fixing the problems. They're just waiting it out. Nothing ever gets better. It just gets worse all the time.

Anonymous said...

Waiting won't help and its not going away. There is more to come!!!!

Help the Kids said...

I feel that Mr Turner was treated unfairly and deserves an apology from the R-8 Administration and School Board collectively. Yes he wrote books, blogged ,but there has to be some consideration for this issue and it needs to be handled in a more professional manner. Why treat a valued member of the teaching staff like a criminal for writing words and thoughts? The bullying method imposed by the people responsible for taking Mr Turner into the room to basically interrogate him must be looked into more by someone. I applaud Mr Turner for defending himself.

On another note I have heard and been privy to information about teachers leaving the schools for no reason. Some have been told to simply resign or they would be terminated and there is no basis for a factual termination. Some teachers have resigned to go teach at another district just to get away from this city. The McKinley Elementary has had almost 10 or maybe more teachers resign or fired this year alone. Their now promoted principal who was never even there more than half the time now gets to spend her time in the big house admin building collecting a very nice 6 figure salary and her school she was entrusted to has been failing for sometime. There are so many discipline issued in that school but you would never know it because she hides it or never files the necessary paperwork. Teachers are afraid to say something because they may be let go or asked to resign. There are students in this school who are out of control. By that I mean they curse at, kick, hit, and even trip teachers. One teacher has a serious ankle injury and has to go to physical therapy because a student tripped her. These children are rewarded for bad behavior. When they threaten a teacher, a fellow student nothing happens. Seriously, when I was a student in school and someone tried that they would be out of there so quick it would make your head spin. But not they don't want anyone to know because it would affect their rating, or funding. The scores or assessments on these students are so low and no one does anything about it.

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong looking at this from the outside, reading the comments and talking to my teacher friends. I hope I am wrong and that my perceptions will be corrected. The way I see it, teachers aren't leaving because they don't care anymore. It's because they care a lot and are tired of being interrupted by constant ineffective meetings and trainings, and because the expectations for the students are so low. All of the pressure seems to be on the teachers. There is no way that upper admnistration can look teachers in the face and state that their goal is to retain personnel, if that is the case. I'd say it's just the opposite. If they get rid of the teachers who had ties to the old buildings then they can break the culture and habits that were in those buildings. New teachers will not be tenured and will be more likely to go along with whatever new plans are being made. Older teachers who remember the way it used to be will be more resistant. I'd say that was a good idea from a manager's standpoint, but it appears, just looking at the data on the DESE site--thank you to the person who provided the guidance to find it--that the teachers in the old system were having better luck than whatever the district has come up with in recent years. Are the administrators just too proud to admit they're wrong, or do they not really care if the students know anything substantial now that they can get information from Google? I'd rather be able to think for myself, but apparently thinking isn't a prized skill in today's 21st Century schools. Strange, isn't it? All that tax money spent on learning institutions, and the ultimate goal is to move the kids through their core classes as quickly as possible--or skip them completely--so they can get to the career path classes. I guess knowledge no longer equals power.
Some teachers I know were told in a meeting this week by the district's career path people that it doesn't matter if they're "pissed off", because it is coming anyway. Once again, as a manager, I don't think you get much buy-in with that approach. A good sales job with good data and a convincing proposal would be a better approach. But what do I know? I went to school in the 20th Century when we had to be on time, be there every day, wear decent clothers, use manners, and do homework. Those skills are why I'm now a manager of a major business and not a minimum wage worker. Makes you stop and pause a minute, doesn't it? I can talk about all manner of things with people because I was taught across a large spectrum. I've held all kinds of jobs before this one because I have a broad base of knowledge. There is no way I would have wanted my own children to have studied a narrow spectrum of courses.
I am glad I no longer have school-age children, because I would be paying tuition somewhere for them to go to school where they would actually learn about the whole world, and not one narrow facet of it. I hope you parents know for sure that this is what you want for your children. I think you will regret, but like I said, I'm old school. And proud of it. If someone can prove me wrong, please do so. This is my community, and I am very concerned.

Amanda Lea said...

I am a teacher; I was disappointed to see my hometown being represented in such a negative way (and on Huffington Post, no less) when I read your most recent diatribe against public education. Personally, I love teaching Communications even more with Common Core. I wondered (while I was reading your blog discouraging young people from entering the teaching profession) why all of those "teachers from all over the country" you heard from had such an adverse reaction to something I found nothing but helpful in my own classroom; to each their own, I guess.
I am noticing a theme throughout your career (the very little that I know of it) though...just like the picture of the wreck that got you fired from the paper, so goes the controversy-breeding effects of your blog, ending with the career-killing events you detail here. I'm sorry you lost your job (especially since you seem to have enjoyed it at least a little) but I wonder how any of this can come as much of a surprise, knowing the intricacies of the bureaucracy as you do.
Look at the bright side...maybe it'll help you write another awesome book?

Randy said...

I find your comments just a bit odd, Amanda. You know so little about my career, but you know enough to know about a minor incident that took place 14 years ago when I was in a different community. (The Carthage Press accidentally published an accident photo that showed the foot of a dead man and that photo had nothing whatsoever to do with me leaving the Carthage Press. Pardon me if I am having a hard time believing that this comment actually came from a teacher. It reads more like a plant.

Anonymous said...

If it's who I think it is, and I'm fairly certain, I am, She's an outspoken Atheist, that lives, or at least, lived, in Miami. She graduated from Southern a few years ago in education.Don't know where or if She's teaching.

Anonymous said...

Amanda's comments read like advertising for the Common Core. She teaches communications? Not communication arts? If that is the case, then she doesn't know the pressure of testing.
The CCSS are not the issue here. High stakes testing and the narrow view it's data presents is not really the issue, either. The issue on this blog is the right a teacher has to express himself outside of his profession. We've been discussing the rights of teachers.
Trying to discredit Mr. Turner as you did is a cheap shot. A red herring argument only exposes the weakness of the person who uses it. Is that all you've got?

Anonymous said...

Amanda,
One would think that if you truly have such a command of the CCSS and have found them so helpful, that you would have a better command of the English language, especially since you're so successful at teaching communications. The expression you're trying to use should be,"to each his (or her) own." Your pronouns do not match in number. But you keep trying. You'll get there.

Anonymous said...

Mr Turner - you have more support than you realize. I am ashamed that Joplin's administration treated you as a common criminal and had you escorted out of the building by a police officer. And I love how they "didn't want to call attention to the escort in a negative manner." Really? Then wait about 20 minutes until the building had cleared out. All this just really confirms what I have felt going on within our district for some time now...who will be the next to go under false or trumped up pretenses???? Teachers beware about speaking your mind in the Joplin District...they only want a bunch of programed robots working for them. You are certainly not entitled to your own opinion. How many other ways is this district not being constitutionally sound?

Anonymous said...

I have known Randy Turner since he came into the Joplin School District and had a chance to talk with him several days ago. He is trying to be extremely careful about which teachers to call to testify for him at his hearing because he knows how Dr. Besendorfer reacts when anyone crosses them. The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous his way of thinking is to me. If one of his fellow teachers' careers was on the line, you would not have to ask him to take the stand, you would have to hit him over the head with a club to stop him. This may be the only chance East Middle School and the Joplin School District has to stop this abuse of power. East Middle School teachers, heck, teachers throughout the school district should be lining up to testify for Randy Turner. Or you can just wait until he's gone and you do something that she doesn't like. By that time, I am sure they will be smart enough to strip search the teachers before they question them. Now is the time for you to stand up and truly be role models in the Joplin community.

Anonymous said...

If the Joplin Schools Board of Education fires Mr. Turner based on these trumped up charges, the message that will be sent to the teaching staff is that they just don't matter. The message will be that what Joplin values is saving face and backing an ineffective administration over hard working, stressed out, unsupported teachers. Mr. Turner is a symptom of a much larger problem, and it's time the Board addressed these issues. No one has yet. All teachers have a stake in Mr. Turner's case. It could be any of the teachers. We must make sure that the Board backs the teachers and brings common sense back into our children's education. Contact Board members daily and tell them that Joplin wants good teachers and safe learning environments over anything else!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Huff should never have let this go so far. Just like he should never have gone along with taking away a teacher's right to representation by union reps. That he has allowed Dr, Besendorfer so much latitude tells you he really is not that involved with the district but is more involved with his career, his speeches all around the country being proof enough. Should Mr. Turner be fired and the issues of the teachers not be addressed, then all the choked up speeches and 10% coupons to the company store he can print won't make a difference come August. The teachers and parents aren't going to forget. You can bet on that.

Anonymous said...

The implication made above is that Dr. Huff was somehow unaware of this before it started. That couldn't be further from the truth. He sent a district email telling of the 28-page list of charges that were made against Mr. Turner. He knew what was happening and why from the beginning. I was allowed to read it, so I know he did. Don't kid yourselves. This isn't all Besendorfer. Lay the blame where it belongs. He's in charge of the whole district. If things aren't going well, he's the person to be held accountable. He's also the person who can fix it, if he only would. If he doesn't, then my family will attend schools somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me why the district's HR is allowed to use a Joplin city police officer to escort someone out of the building who hasn't even been accused of doing anything illegal? Is that what our tax money is being used for, to allow administration to bully and browbeat employees and make sure no one else crosses administration of they might end up being taken out by a police officer. If Mr. Turner is not reinstated he should think about suing in federal court for civil rights violations. No representation, no attempt to let him give his own side of the story, even thought it was obvious that woman did not care, having him taken out in front of the children and his fellow teachers by a City of Joplin police officer and then being charged with violating a board policy because he had the guts to record them while they were playing their little power games. I read the policy. They can tell him it is against policy but there is no way he was interfering with education when he recorded them. The tornado damaged our school district. These people are going to destroy it.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that the dedication, unity, and drive after the tornado have been squandered by greed and ambition. That it has gone unchecked for so many years reflects a board that is more interested in the appearance of progress than anything real, as the data reflects little progress has been made. That the public stands for it causes one to wonder what the community really wants. The only way meaningful change will occur is when the community demands it. The district is nothing but a reflection of the community. So, Joplin, what do you stand for? Are you willing to fight for your children's education? Sitting back and waiting to see if it gets better is getting you nowhere. Call the board, write letters, and demand change now! Mr. Turner can't do this by himself.

Anonymous said...

6:51 is right. We can't leave our children's education to the teachers and Mr. Turner. His case is an example of what happens when teachers speak out. If our kids are going to be educated thoroughly, it will be because we INSIST ON CHANGE! The Board will change things when we put enough pressure on them to be felt. Administrators won't change because that would be admitting they were wrong. But the Board can INSIST on it if we INSIST they do!! It's up to us, people.

Anonymous said...

What upper administration and Bud Sexson are doing to East Middle School is criminal. In addition to this nonsense with Mr. Turner, they are moving around other good teachers from the positions they have held for years, a tactic usually used by inept administrators to convince people to look for another job. The EMS eighth grade teachers have been the strongest at the school for years. Now Turner may be gone and Neugebauer is being moved to sixth and seventh grade math. Mrs. Frencken is being moved to eighth grade reading and no teling where they are going to end up putting Mrs. Patten, formerly Weaver. None of those teachers went along with the standard based grading. It is also true that all teachers being hired at East have to agree to use standards based grading. All so everything can be new and different when they move into the new building and that's another question. Why is no one mentioning that the construction company said the old East Middle School could have been ready for use by August 2011, including the gym. Have we just spent millions of dollars unnecessarily and put our kids in a warehouse for two years so can have a bright shiny building for all of these 21st Century experiments.

Anonymous said...

So, grade school teachers are escorted out of buildings by the police too? From McKinley? How many more teachers are going to be taken away by police? Have they been accused of crimes? NO! Have they been immoral? NO! The whole point of the escort is to intimidate all the rest of the teachers. The evidence shows that Joplin students are not excelling in anything. They are cheated every day, but not because their teachers don't know what to do. Numbers and data will be manipulated and teachers escorted out of the schools before administration will admit their big ideas are wrong. Do we want our children to witness this disgrace anymore? NO! The wrong people have been escorted out of school buildings. It's time to make a switch. Past time. I just hope the district has the spine to clean up their own mess.

Anonymous said...

New and different will never be as good as tried and true. Give the teachers what they need to teach, trust them to know what they need, support them by protecting the classrooms from disruptions, and you'll have learning in even the simplest of buildings. It's time for common sense to be the rule, and not the exception. Put that rubber stamp away, school board, and learn to say NO once in awhile. Insist that teachers be treated with respect and make learning your top priority. I believe that is the point of schools, correct?

Anonymous said...

I don't want my children to be part of any more educational experiments. I want them to read well, to write well, and to be able to do at least basic computations. I want them to be culturally enriched and to have safe social conditions. I don't care if they receive job training. They have time for that later. It's called college and life. I want the basics first. Quit cheating my kids, Joplin Schools, so your administrators can have bragging rights about their new initiatives and programs.

Anonymous said...

My daughter and her friends turned in their computers today. They were very excited. They hate the computers. They tell me the computers are a distraction and they'd rather have books again. Is there some practical reason why they can't have both? Do the books clash with the furniture or something? I never thought I'd see the freaking day when books would be considered bad for students. That's just stupid. There's a lot of stupid in R8 these days. Do they have standardized tests for administrators? I don't think these would score proficient.

Anonymous said...

you are reaping what you have sown over the years. your "investigative" reporting that bent the truth to create more of a story, your allowing false comments and not allowing truthful comments to be posted on your blogs, and your one-sided stories have all come back to bite you in the rear. get ALL of your facts straight from now on before writing blogs that are false. and it would also behoove you to remember what the good book says:


John 8

1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is talking about numbers that the administration posts. Why would you make it look like a student did not attend school for a whole semester because they had an out of school suspension. When in fact they did the correct thing and went to the school and reported the incident. ZERO tolerance? This does not teach the child anything. Lets teach the young adults the difference between wrong and right.

Anonymous said...

Zero tolerance? Where in Joplin is there zero tolerance? Just watching the kids I'd say it's more like zero consequences. I feel sorry for the good kids trying to learn in some of the schools I've seen.

Anonymous said...

Hey folks, gues what? This district is hiring MORE TLC's. can you believe they are cutting title 1 reading teachers and hiring more DR. B DRONES, TLC's. they make around $44,500. Are you tired of OUR KIDS BEING GUINEA PIGS?? Then you need to go to:
Jeff Flowers jflowers@ilcenter.org. Been on since 2008, too long
Mike Landis. mlandis@cableone.net--been on since 2001, time to go
Anne Sharp auntanne@cableone.net--been on since 2000, time to go
Randy Steele. jrsteele@cableone.net Been on since 2008, too long
Dawn Sticklen dhsticklen@gmail.com
Jim kimbrough kimbrough-j@mssu.edu Been on since 2006, too long
Phil wilcoxon. pmwillcoxon @freemanhealth.com
Been on since 2008, too long
Rumor has it that Sharp and Kimbrough voted NO TO RENEW THE CONTRACT OF DR. B. they could possibly stay. All we need is 2 more to vote her "off the island".
It is time for parents and teachers to take a stand against administrators who bully teachers.
What is going to happen when there is a class action lawsuit against joplin schools and the school board, who knows this type of behavior goes on?
Why is going to happen board members who continue to vote YES for this terrible leadership?
I know that the board members who vote YES for Dr. B will also be "voted off the island".
Guess the board members need to decide which is better:
1. Dr. B and her cronies
2. Keeping good administrators and teachers and putting kids # 1 instead of Dr. B and friends.
The ball is your court school board, are you going to fumble it again?






Anonymous said...

I might be wrong but I thought the only person directly hired by the board is the superintendent. Everyone else in the district works for him. But the Board should hold him accountable for the state of the district. It's far worse now than it was when he got it. In the business world he would be fired for running a company into the ground. And it's not just TLCs taking chunks out of the budget that could pay for teachers. The MODOT building is crammed full of employees. Four separate ones in Besendorfer's dept alone, and who knows who else. I've heard 80+ people work in there. Webb City schools were lauded this week for their academic progress. They have a teacher-student ratio of 15:1. Joplin is over 20. Maybe we need fewer helpers and more teachers. It's a matter of priorities, and Joplin's is not on academics. It's on appearances. The only way we have in the community to change things is to contact the board members constantly until we see the changes we want. They work for us.

Anonymous said...

It looks like te current admin dislikes and distrusts their teachers. It's like they think the teachers can't do anything right. So they brought in the TLCs and scores went down. They got rid of principals and teachers and put in their own picks and scores went down more. Now they're putting behavior people in and behavior is worse. So they just keep putting in more and more nonteaching staff but they don't see they're just making things worse. Maybe we just need to use some common sense. Smaller classes means more individual attention which means more learning and fewer behavior problems.

Anonymous said...

Let's review those big charges:
Mr. Turner is charged with having his students download and read No Child Left Alive. But upon questioning, it turns out they hadn't heard of it. But now they all have. And who, might we ask, was the lady who did the interviews if the school has two male principals? Were the parents notified that their children were going to become part of the witch hunt for their teacher? I'm guessing not.
Mr. Turner is charged with exposing at least one student to his book, The Devil's Messenger. But, that book is in the school libraries where all the students may read it. This is silly, isn't it?
Mr. Turner is charged with making a profit off of a book that has actually cost him thousands of dollars. More silliness. And, he has the parental permission slips for the project. And he had permission from his principal to take on the project. Yes. Ridiculous.
That the district has provided thousands of students with computers and now iPads that can be used to access hard porn and social networks is where the scrutiny should be. Yes, students can do those things on their phones, but that is an issue between the students and their parents. Using school computers to make drug deals, to make movies and take illicit photos, and to chat with anyone anywhere is a taxpayer concern. Which adults have exposed the students to the most dangerous and immoral material? I'd bet more students have broken the law and put themselves at risk with school-issued laptops than have ever read The Devil's Messenger or No Child Left Alive (until administrators drew their attention to it, anyway).
I wish that the admistrators of the Joplin School District would just for once admit that they're wrong, drop the charges, and allow this issue to drop before they make the district look even more foolish than it does now. If that is possible. There aren't words I can use on a public format that describe adequately the contempt I have for them. Admit you're wrong and you were on a personal vendetta and let it go. Quit wasting money, time, and resources that could be better spent on the STUDENTS you're supposed to be serving on your way up the ladder.

Anonymous said...

I have never been a fan of Mr. Turner's liberal writing, but he has never been a liar and there are a lot of people who will attest to that. What is obvious to me is that he is telling the truth in this case. His audio alone should have been enough to have had him reinstated and had Tina Smith and whoever is pulling her strings led out in handcuffs. How many people are there who could have put a stop to this long before it reached the point of wasting taxpayer money with a hearing for crimes that simply were never committed? C. J. Huff could have put a stop to it. He has not. The Board of Education could have put a stop to it. Nothing has been done. Mr. Turner, his students, their parents, and the staff at East Middle School have been delivered the message, quite forcefully, that anyone who disagrees with Dr. Besendorfer is not long for the school district. Make no mistake about it. I have read No Child Left Alive and while I am not that impressed with Mr. Turner's writing, I am intelligent enough to know that no one in administration ever believed any of the charges against him. I have asked teachers in the school district. Are the programs Mr. Turner describes in his book really taking place in the Joplin School District. Every person I have talked to says they are. Are teachers really treated with the lack of respect the teachers are treated with in Mr. Turner's book? I am told the situation is even worse and what is happening with Mr. Turner and the teachers at McKinley Elementary and East Middle School are examples that prove the point. Forget about the sex and the school shooter in the book. It could be a blueprint for the disaster Angie Besendorfer has created in the Joplin School District. A disaster that she has been allowed to create. No wonder administration is so desperate to get rid of Mr. Turner. The people on top never like a whistleblower. Make no mistake about it. That is exactly what Mr. Turner is. He may be a liberal, but I am not going to hold that against him. Everybody has faults. He is also a hero and the people of the Joplin School District owe him a debt of gratitude.

Anonymous said...

Laptops and IPads.

The Joplin School District, at least the administration, is so set on being the first district in the area to have all kinds of technology that they are willing to sacrifice the learning of our children to pad their resumes. What is most damaging about the technology is the idea being pushed by administration that teachers should not be teaching. Tell the students to Google whatever it is they need and stay out of their way. Dr. Besendorfer has never had much use for teachers. She considers them to a necessary evil, but does not think any particular teacher is important. Now with the new school opening at East next January, the purge has begun of teachers at East. Turner might not have been one of those purged, but once Besendorfer found out he had criticized her pet programs, and her, in his book, he was a goner. He probably wouldn't have lasted anyway since he took a stand against Besendorfer's pet standards-based grading. All of the old fashioned type teachers at East have been targeted by Besendorfer and her pet Bud Sexson. Otherwise, why would Linda Patton, former Weaver, be continually shifted from teaching one class to another after being a successful reading teacher for years. Why has Kim Frencken been moved from sixth grade to eighth grade English and Brian Neugebauer from eighth grade math to sixth and seventh grade math. Other veteran teachers, including Julie Yonkers and Kathy Weaver, have been called in for meetings with Sexson and assistant principal Jason Weaver. They already set the tone for the new East Middle School when they gave surveys to all students allowing them to "grade" their teachers, complete with comments, many hurtful which were then shown to all of the teachers. It looks like Sexson and Weaver want to follow the same path to success that took McKinley's principal to upper administration. If you think teachers deserve a fair shake you are not going anywhere in the Joplin School District. Is the Board of Education blind or is this what they want for our teachers and our children?

Anonymous said...

It may be 21st Century, but it certainly isn't learning.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this will be the lightning rod needed to unite Joplin teachers. Too few belong to either the NEA or the MSTA. United they have a strong voice, but struggling along independently without representation makes teachers more vulnerable. It's time for teachers to stop being frustrated victims and start fighting back and standing strong.

A united group of parents would also be effective. You'll get no changes that you want unless your voice is heard. Aren't our children worth fighting for? Making comments here is helpful, but directly addressing the board is better.

Anonymous said...

Parents PLEASE CONTACT THE BOARD OF EDUCATION THIS WEEK.
It is vital that we as taxpayers make our voices heard. It is time to fight for our children's education and future. If you don't take a stand, than you don't have the right to complain when your child doesn't have an education and can't get a job.
Veteran teachers are being forced out of Joplin at an alarming rate. They don't dare speak out or they are called to the office to be BULLIED by administrators.
The BOE needs to hear from people everyday letting them know that JOPLIN is TIRED of this NONSENSE.
It is time to TAKE OUR SCHOOLS BACK!!!
We are the taxpayers- We have the right to be heard.
Why are we allowing our tax dollars to pay for administrations vacations and salaries while our children suffer?? This is not why I pay taxes!!
I hope everyone reading this calls a school board member this week. It is time they heard from the parents/taxpayers that WILL NOT VOTE for another SCHOOL BOND ISSUE just to have our money squandered by administrators that are not held accountable.

Anonymous said...

I love No Child Left Alive. After reading it it's obvious why the people who have run this school district into the ground do not want Randy to be a part of it. Those of us who work in this school district have been overwhelmed with one program after another, all designed to make upper level administration look good. Some of the programs even contradict each other. Our test scores have gone down for the last few years not so coincidentally at the same time that veteran teachers and principals have been pushed out if they object in any way or if they even just question these programs. Randy, have you thought about a sequel. I can see a book about a fictional school district that has many of its buildings damaged by a natural disaster, then squanders all of the money and goodwill it receives from people all over the nation and the world. I would buy the book.

Anonymous said...

Let me see if I understand this. Julie Yonkers, Kim Frencken, Linda Weaver, and Kathy Weaver have had problems with the principal et East. Does the principal ever have any problems with all of the younger females he has hired the past couple of years? Correct me if i'm wrong, Isn't the principal one of Angie's personal picks? Is the school district ever going to be able to recover from the damage she has done?

Anonymous said...

The district can recover with a collective commitment from parents, teachers, administration, and the school board. All voices must be heard and changes must be made that are fair and equitable for all staff and students. Having books only for advanced students is not fair. Having so many staff that do not teach is not fair. Having so little discipline so that classes cannot be productive is not fair. Having a threatening work environment is unjust. Changes in a positive and productive direction will be readily embraced and recovery will be swift. The dedication is there. Now it is up to the board to allow it to occur.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 1:49. Given that Randy Turner is restored to the classroom and that normalcy and respect are restored, I believe that teachers would be enthused and ready to go in August. They're always ready to teach. What they need is not difficult to obtain. And enthusiastic, successful teachers will build public trust again. We will have to hope that our board, who has said NOTHING yet, will do what's right and restore Joplin Schools. Silence implies condoning what they see. We'll hope they speak up soon.

Anonymous said...

It is true that teachers will be ready to go in August if certain conditions are met. But one of those conditions will have to be restoration of respect. Leave teachers in the classroom. And then leave them alone. To always be inflicting so many handlers and trainers on them implies that teachers are stupid, and that's hardly the case. When the PLC positions were created, teachers were assured that the TLCs would never be working with administrators and that they would be an extra pair of hands in the classroom. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The TLCs frequently gossip. One spends an hour or more a day hanging out in the principal's office where she gossips about staff and generally wastes time--paid for with tax dollars. She has already told said administrator that she thought a new hire was full of himself when he was in her class, so she has poisoned the well against this guy before he's even started. And then she told people that she had said that--always reminding people of her closeness to administration. That she is an extension of the arm of the administration is a fact. This is the kind of thing that must stop. We could have a lot more teachers and a lot more peace and productivity without these "helpers". It's a huge waste of money and they do far more harm than good. Many of them, like the one mentioned above, simply wanted out of the impossible conditions that exist in the classrooms. They aren't the best teachers. They are simply desperate enough to take even that job in order to survive in this climate. And that explains why things have only gotten worse since they started. Put them back in the classroom. There are plenty of openings available.

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow is the last full day of school. If there was any justice in this school district, this vendetta would be dropped against Mr. Turner and give him one last chance to say goodbye to his students.

Anonymous said...

I guess my main concern is the emphasis on careers at such an early age. Anyone who knows anything at all about kids, which puts out the majority of Joplin's administrators, knows that the average 15 year old doesn't know what he wants to do yet. And neither does the average 20 year old, for that matter. So why are we educating them in one career area? Wouldn't it make more sense to give them a broad spectrum of courses in high school so they can know a little of everything? We used to call that a liberal arts education, but I guess that's an old school term. By training them to do one entry level job aren't we actually limiting them? This is more stupidity. A trend that won't last once the researchers "discover" that teens don't know what they want to do yet. And then we'll be stuck with a restaurant and who knows what else in our high school when what we needed was classrooms. This is why the silicon valley parents forbid their kids from getting trained in technology. They want their kids to know how to think and create on their own before they become addicted to technology. They want their kids to possess knowledge and not just Google skills. And that's what I want for my kids. So, would you all please stop trying to get my middle school son to declare his interests before he's even gone through puberty?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the veteran teachers at East Middle School (as well as the HS and McKinley) are the ones having the problems. It also sounds like they are having problems, not because they have done anything "wrong", but because they have questioned policies that they don't believe are valid.
It also appears that the administrators are the ones being the bullies who pick on people who are doing their job (unlike other staff members that are principal's pets).
How degrading that people who actually take pride in Joplin and do their jobs are paying such a high price.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want someone teaching my child that just follows along with every new idea, I don't want someone who is related to a board member, or who is concerned with making a name for themselves or someone who only knows how to say "Yes" to upper level administrators influencing my child with their self-serving ideas. I want someone who has experience that cares about my child.
I think it is past time that parents and taxpayers let the city of Joplin and the Board of Education know how we feel.

Anonymous said...

I still want to know who this "lady" was that questioned the kids regarding Mr. Turner's books. Both principals are men, supposedly, so who was she? That HR lady? Nobody asked my permission before interviewing my child. Is this even legal? I'm going to find out. Where was Sexson? In Canada? How about Weaver? In his office playing on his computer? I'm going to get the truth about this. Like everyone else, I've had it.

Anonymous said...

To whom would we address our unanswered concerns beyond the school board? DESE? The state school board? If we don't hear something soon, we will have to start looking at other options.

Anonymous said...

To 6:24
If the TLC your referencing is who I think she is, then she didn't even have to work at getting that job. It was never posted so anyone else could apply. Is that legal? Add that to the list of questions to investigate. At any rate, they usually only interview three people anyway. The one they want and two others who never stand a chance. Then they make a big announcement about their choice like it's a big surprise. Puhleeze. It's routine procedure.

Anonymous said...

How about the state auditor? We need to find out how many signatures we need to get a petition audit. Considering the millions that came into this school system after the tornado, the overspending and frolicking being done by administration and the intermingling of Bright Futures, supposedly an independent entity, with the school, there is considerable potential for not only waste, but corruption.

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't anyone mentioned the 4 teachers at SMS who have resigned without a job on their horizon? There's a history of teacher abuse to focus on there.

Anonymous said...

It might be wise for the Board of Education to start thinking about how much it is going to need to settle with Mr. Turner whether they vote for or against him on Thursday. Just think about it- They had him taken out of the school by a police officer in clear sight of his students and teachers. The audio makes it evident that it did not matter what he said, he was a goner. Then C. Jl. Huff mentions there are 28 pages of charges against him making it sound like he has done all kinds of things and that goes on television and in the Globe. And as Turner noted at one point how in hell did the Joplin Globe decide to write that there was "graphic sexual content" in No Child Left Alive. I doubt if anyone from the Globe has read the book. That had to come from either Huff or Besendorfer. These people have not only tried to ruin Turner's reputation, but they are trying to see to it that he never works in education again. I, for one, am going to applaud when Turner takes these people to the cleaners. It's about time someone stood up and did to them what they have done to the district.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing. If all this money is being spent on distant trips, and other reports of wasting, an audit is needed. WHAT A WASTE.

The information to start the Petition is at

http://www.auditor.mo.gov/auditinfo/petition.aspx

Anonymous said...

I sure missed Randy's portion of our awards assembly today. It was one of honoring teachers. The admin doesn't want teachers honored though, especially when the teachers are so much more well liked by the students. Oh, and by the way, our illustrious principal was somehow missing from this assembly as he is usually missing from anything that goes on at the school.

Anonymous said...

Did you look for him in Canada?

Anonymous said...

Here are the numbers to call BOE members:

Jeff Flowers- 781-0498
Anne Sharp- 623-2695
Jim KImbrough- 781-6929
Phil Wilcoxon-206-0260
Dawn Stricklin-626-9880
Mike Landis -623-3911
Randy Steele- 438-2428

EVERYONE needs to call these men and women and let them know who you support. It is up to the parents and taxpayers of Joplin to let the BOE know that we won't stand for one more minute of frivolous spending, neglect of our children's education, or the mistreatment of quality educators.
Thank you to the person who posted the petition information. If calling the BOE doesn't get the results that are needed, then we need to continue our fight and take this to DESE.
Please call and let the board know that you support Randy and all the other teachers that are fighting to teach. Let the board know that you do not support the present administration and their handpicked principals who are turning our schools into dangerous daycares. Discipline is a thing of the past. Our schools are no longer safe.
It is time for the Joplin R-8 administrators and the BOE to be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

It is going to be interesting to see how they can make the case that the administration wasn't aware of Randy's tornado book. He announced it to us at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year and it was one of those rare times when Bud was actually at the school. If there was any problem with the book it should have been Bud who took care of it. It may not seem like it, but he is the principal at East. of course, none of that matters, the tornado book is just a smokescreen. The real problem is that Randy told the truth about the Joplin School District and upper administration in No Child Left Alive and anybody who dares point out the flaws in the district isn't going to be around long. Teachers, if we don't stand up for him and stop this madness now, no one will ever want to work in the Joplin School District again.

Anonymous said...

The silence from the Board and the public is deafening. It's that lack of support and the indifference that puzzles me. What is more important or more pressing than the children of the Joplin community? What good does it do to build big new libraries or cultural centers if the citizens of a community are not educated enough to appreciate them? This is a district that discourages thinking, reading, and the arts. When librarians are threatened with dismissal for reading to little children, something has gone terribly wrong. Come on, people. Support education, not just technology. Robots can use technology. Let's not make our children into unfeeling, unthinking robots.

Anonymous said...

You mean another new tee shirt and a 10% discount at the district store won't be enough to make it all worthwhile? I wonder what theme they can possibly have that will mean anything at all to the teachers? They've already gotten the message loud and clear.

Anonymous said...

I notice that at Stapleton, both the current principal and the assistant principal are being replaced next year. The new principal will be Karen Secrist (former assistant principal of Cecil Floyd) while the new assistant principal will be Dawn Mertens, who was a "TLC" at Stapleton this year. I presume from certain language in newsletters that this is completely consistent with the scenario described by Turner and sympathetic teachers.

I was curious if anyone had any additional info about the behind-the-scenes at this school? Are teachers being replaced as well? It's difficult for me to interpret it as favorable how so many long-serving teachers and school staff are being replaced - it suggests to me a common administrative fallacy, to believe that the problem couldn't possibly be with management, so it must the lay employees....

I would like to write to the board members, but I also would like more specific information about the school in my area, if possible, so I can have a legitimate and fair case to make.

Anonymous said...

I will always remember when our school year started three months after the tornado something that Randy Turner said. It was only a few days after the tornado when teachers were sent a message that if they talked to the media without getting permission from administration they would be considered insubordinate, and of course that meant we would be fired. With everything all of us were going through after the tornado, administration still had time to threaten us. When we got back to school, Randy said, "i was afraid to talk to myself all summer." That didn't stop him from being one of the true heroes of those months after the tornado. While some others were making a big show of what they were doing, he did what he has always done. He wrote and wrote and wrote. For many of us the Turner Report was right up there with KZRG and Joplin Tornado Info in helping us keep up with the tornado and the recovery. While administration was keeping the public's view squarely on administration, Randy brought a human side to the school's tornado stories, and he genuinely thought every time he did that that someone in administration was going to cause him trouble. With all that he did, I don't believe he ever had anyone from upper administration or even our principal tell him that he had done a good job. Nothing is ever any good in our school district unless it comes from administration. For the last several years, he has been the best teacher hands down in the school, but you will never hear him say it and he probably doesn't even believe it. He will be irritated that I write this, but he is an extremely shy person who comes alive in front of a classroom or a crowd. He is an interesting conversationalist, but he is extremely uncomfortable in groups. One of the few saving graces of these past two years at East has been that no matter what unspeakable horrors administrators throw at us, Randy Turner is there, usually before most teachers arrive and often after most teachers have gone. Over the last two years we have been beaten down, unsupported by our principals and forced to become a laboratory for all kinds of ideas that do not seem to be in the children's best interest. There has not been one day when Randy cheated the children or the taxpayers. He is an example of what teachers should be. You can add me to the list of people who are so scared of losing our jobs that we sign ourselves "anonymous," but I will not let these parasites get rid of him without letting the people know exactly what is happening. Randy Turner has heart, intelligence, and always puts his students first. Administrators that want to get rid of him are the ones who need to go.

Anonymous said...

Several people have commented that there has been no response from the school board - I'm wondering if possibly they don't KNOW about all of this? There has been nothing on the news, and many people have never heard of this blog or Mr. Turner. If parents/teachers/taxpayers haven't contacted them directly, you cannot assume that the BOE is informed of these issues. The BOE are not dictators - they have all been ELECTED by us to represent the children of the school district. If anyone is unhappy with the district or administrators, contact the members of the Board. If anyone is unhappy with a Board member, vote him/her out. If the only complaints are anonymous comments on a blog that most of the community won't see - nothing will happen. For those who HAVE contacted the BOE, what has the response been?

Anonymous said...

To respond to Shelly, its not Tea Party it should be "BULLY PARTY".

Anonymous said...

I have talked to many school board members many times. They are very compassionate. They do listen. But not one thing has changed for the better. My oldest still goes to
School where there are no books. My middle schooler still talks about how bad kids are in his classes. His teachers are quitting or leaving one way or the other.
I think they are reading this. If what Mr. Turner writes is so important that he gets fired for it I'd think they'd be readin his writing. A lot of people are.

Anonymous said...

They say the true mark of character is how you treat people who can do nothing for you. What does that say about the character of Joplin's administrators, considering how they treat their teachers? I would say they should be ashamed, but shame doesn't seem to be a trait they possess. I still say shame on you, Joplin Schools. Shame. On. You.

Anonymous said...

So, admin is going to read part of the book at the hearing! It's story time!! I thought they discouraged reading for entertainment. And, if it's an open meeting complete with media, why would they insist students under 18 have a parent when they can stay home and watch it on v? Who's exposing the kids now? Admin. In all fairness, the whole book must be read so that nothing is taken out of context. I bet they don't want that to happen.

Anonymous said...

I keep reading comments about contacting the school board.
Has anyone called them yet?
I've contacted some of them- the ones who will listen. They listen, are polite, but like someone else mentioned, nothing changes.
As for students under 18 not being allowed at the hearing without a parent- simple fix- Bring the whole family- the more people who show up the better.
Let's show our support for Randy and Joplin teachers.

Anonymous said...

@8:07
My daughter attends Stapleton. At Christmas, her student teacher took over her class from the regular teacher ( who was retired but basically was asked to fill in due to lack of a 5th grade teacher for the numbers).

The student teacher- then classroom teacher- was dynamic ! My daughter adored him and I thought he was very enthusiastic. I loved that he told the students that he never left a man behind ( he is a Guardsman ). He taught concepts until they were mastered, had great projects , and was very in tune to kids.
To my dismay, he is NOT returning to Stapleton. I don't know why- maybe he got a job closer to his home, maybe he got a higher pay offer, maybe maybe maybe.

All I know is that Joplin would be crazy to let this guy to if that's the case...

Surely there would be someone at Stapleton who is familiar with the school who was certified in administration... How and why would they need to bring someone over from another school?

What kind of prison warden mentality is going on here ?

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight.

No one in administration really believes that Randy Turner really assigned his eighth graders to download and discuss his book.

No one in administration really believes that Randy Turner is profiting off Scars from the Tornado.

No one in administration really believes that Devil's Messenger is an obscene book.

No one in administration really believes that Randy Turner violated any district policy by recording his bullying by Tina Smith.

Everyone believes that administration is willing to spend any amount of money to get rid of Randy Turner.

It makes you wonder how else these people have wasted money.

Anonymous said...

Earlier in the blog someone asked if any younger female teachers had been targeted by East admin. The answer, as far as I am aware, is no as long as you agree with every crazy idea they try to push down the teacher's throat. My understanding is that only one group of teachers actually uses standards based grading and not all of them like it - not all of them are returning next year either. The standards based "report cards" that were brought home are a joke. They don't tell me anything. If I question anything, I'm treated with disrespect, not by all, but by one in particular. Has this teacher ever had problems with Bud? I'd like to know. I sincerely doubt it.
Another question was is Bud an Angie pick- I've always heard that he was and is - Would be very interesting to find out for sure. Would also be interesting to find out if the asst. principal is a "pick". Does anyone know?
And yes, I've contacted the school board.
Nice, but nothing has changed.
Has anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that this district has never seen an initiative or educational concept it didn't like, particularly under the current leadership team. So much has been implemented it is overwhelming so none of it is done well. Then pressure increases on teachers and building admin for failing that which has become impossible. With each failure it becomes more difficult to find people to take on the next big idea, so the quality of leadership diminishes. Now no one has faith in any concept or initiative. This is easily solved. Get rid of the excess and evaluate true areas of need. Pick one or two areas and work on those until they are solved. Add anything new very slowly. This would save tremendous money and resources. But, it wouldn't provide much fodder for bragging rights, so don't look for the common sense approach to start any time soon. We're all about building careers here. The only question is whose career and at whose expense?

Anonymous said...

Not all of their initiatives are bad. Just last spring they were extolling the virtues of reading. Dr. Huff himself sent out a really cute animated study of the importance of reading, and Dr. Besendorfer was seen on the news reading to little children. That librarians have been threatened with their jobs if they read to children instead of teaching technology, and that only the advanced students at the high school get books, does not mean they are against reading. I would recommend a book study of Yertle the Turtle, myself. That would be a welcome initiative.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to be able to contact the Board because if you want to keep your job you cannot speak out. I tried to anonymously and it upset them. Asking why I felt that i sould not use my name?

Anonymous said...

There are two approaches the administration and the board can take to resolve the issues that have come forth as a result of Randy Turner's case. They can threaten, dismiss, and reassign teachers and staff, or they can say to themselves, "Something has gone terribly wrong if this is the way we are perceived. We must begin working with, instead of against, our staff to resolve our issues." I wonder which of the two approaches they will take?

Anonymous said...

We have a few BoE members who are truly kind and empathetic to the needs of students, parents, and staff. They will always listen. But there are some who are way too close to the administrators they are supposed to be supervising, and they have lost their ability to be objective. It takes four votes in the BoE to enact change. We will hope those four people will retain their objectivity and restore justice and normalcy to Joplin Schools. August is not that far away. Change needs to happen now.

Anonymous said...

I have spoken to Board members - most were polite and took time to listen. A couple were surprisingly rude. None of them gave the impression that they are in charge of the district. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the BOE the governing body of Joplin Schools? Elected by the community to ensure the children receive the best possible education? I HOPE that in any given situation the Board members vote to their conscience and what is the right thing to do for the District, and NOT just be "yes-men".

Anonymous said...

The reactions of board members seems to vary with their motivation for being on the board. Those who are truly there to serve the community and the students seem to be the better listeners. Those who are there to build their careers or for socializing purposes seem to care less what people think. But no one ever votes them out, so now it is rare for anyone else to run against them. That leads to a feeling of invincibility. And yes, it does seem like they are governed by admin and not the other way around. I guess tomorrow will prove the validity of that statement. It would be nice to be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes for tomorrow, Randy. If the administration gets its way and fires you, I hope the proverbial crap hits the fan, and this case goes nation wide on national news media for a first amendment violation.

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