Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Teacher crisis in Joplin R-8 School, nearly 100 leaving district

You didn't hear about it on the tightly scripted televised Jopiin R-8 Board of Education meeting Tuesday night on Jet 14, but teachers are leaving right and left from the Joplin School District.

A large number left following the 2011-2012 school year and administration blamed it on the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado.

it appears this time that the forces that have driven approximately 100 teachers out of the Joplin R-8 School District can be attributed to a man-made disaster, one of the administration's own making.

In addition to some that have been driven out of the school district (and you can count me in that number) others have left of their own volition and others are reportedly trying to get out of their contracts to escape a work atmosphere that has become increasingly oppressive.

Sources have told The Turner Report that the situation has reached a point where administrators are having to hire nearly anyone who applies, regardless of qualifications, because most teachers who were seeking employment have already found it, or because many qualified teachers are steering clear of the Joplin R-8 School District.

A member of an area board of education told The Turner Report his school had thought it was going to lose an excellent teacher who had applied to the Joplin District and had been offered a contract. The teacher lives in Joplin and had been driving a considerable distance to the rural school where she was teaching. The board member said the teacher declined the contract offer because of what she had been told about the working conditions in the school district.

The news that 100 have either been forced out of the R-8 District or have fled comes at a particularly bad time, since the R-8 Board of Education on Tuesday night approved an improvement plan which states "The Joplin School District shall become the employer of choice through the recruitment and retention of high quality staff."

The plan includes this nugget:

"Joplin Schools will retain a highly qualified staff through a competitive total compensation package and high morale."

That high morale can be determined, the plan indicates, though satisfaction surveys of teachers that show that "the Joplin Schools will have a culture of high expectations, appreciation, and mutual respect that results in high morale and Eagle pride as evidenced by an 80 percent or better employee satisfaction rating on the annual staff survey."

What the board was not told in this plan that it unanimously approved Tuesday night is that teachers are afraid to answer the survey questions honestly because they are taken on computers and teachers are fully aware of administration's tendency to spy on employees.


Anonymous said...

You mean that 1% raise wasn't enough to keep them in Joplin? That show of teacher support should really attract high quality folks.

Anonymous said...

How do these people look themselves in the mirror? How about on opening day, instead of forcing the teachers to listen to one of your overpaid hack speakers tell them either that everything they've ever done is wrong or about how he and his rich family book their own private cruise every year, why don't you let them fill a suggestion box or fill out a truly anonymous survey and vote of confidence in administration? There won't be that many who have spent more than a few wasted orientation days with the district, but it would better than being told how appreciated teachers are by the same people trying to destroy them every year. And skip the tears. Nobody cares to see that.
Better yet, just skip all of it and let them go to their rooms and work, and maybe have some time to work together. That might actually be productive.
What a bunch of hypocrites. I'm glad I'm gone. Now I know I made the right decision.

Anonymous said...

What percent is the 100 leaving of the total number of teachers? How does this number compare the the last few years?

Randy said...

If the information on the district website is accurate, this is about one out of every six teachers who is leaving. It is at least three times as many as we have ever had before as far as I can tell.

Anonymous said...

Maybe those TLCs and other nonessential personnel could return to the classrooms which they should never have left in their rush to become administrators. Since so much of the discipline has been pushed off on the teachers, maybe some administrators could also return to the classroom. The majority of them spent way too little time there, anyway.

And maybe we could put some really responsible people at the helm instead of the trend followers who are padding their records at the cost of the district's students. But it would take a new Board to get that done. Did anyone see rubber stamps and ink in the budget? That has to cost a bunch.

Anonymous said...

Where are the parents and the community members? All of this money is being spent, new jobs created, teachers leaving, and not one peep. No organized information sessions. No protests. Letters to the editors.

Maybe this is the way Joplin likes to see their district run? Into the ground? Obviously, the teachers can't stage this fight or they'll all be in Mr. Turner's shoes. But there's nothing to stop the parents and community members from demanding some accountability from their elected Board members.

Anonymous said...

One in six teachers will not leave a district with high morale and mutual respect. It appears that like academic achievement, the district is getting the opposite of what it says it wants. And is anything being done about it?

The silence from the Board says it all.

Anonymous said...

Who gets to take a survey? We sure didn't in the building I was in.

That almost ensures they'll have nothing to worry about from the survey.

What a crock.

Anonymous said...

There is another very expensive trip this weekend, according to the budget on the board's June agenda. A whole bunch of people are going on a trip. The cost per person for the convention is over 500. That doesn't include airfare or housing, I'd bet. Great priorities.

Anonymous said...

The parents and the community are not allowed a voice. Any questions asked create an avalanche that buries our children who are the ones that are ultimately destroyed

Anonymous said...

To 6:22

How, specifically, are the parents and community members of the Joplin District not given a voice? I would really like to know. If the East Newton district, which is much smaller, can gather 150 people to discuss the Common Core, why can't Joplin gather 1500 to discuss the problems of their district? Strength comes from numbers. Playing helpless victims will never get your problems solved. Surely in a district with over 7,000 students and thousands of tax payers, 1,000 people would be willing to speak up. Even a few hundred is better than nothing. Complacency is what allowed this mess to start in the first place.

You can call all of the parents you know, set up a time and place to meet (and yes, you can reserve a school space for this), call PTO/Booster leaders from all schools, put out flyers and Facebook notices, invite administration and the school board, and present your questions. Also invite the media. If no one from the administration or the board has the nerve to show up, then discuss amongst yourselves the changes you demand. Create petitions and sign them. If the media is there, and I believe they will show up, then you can bet the board will get the message. If that doesn't work, then contact, as a group, the Missouri School Board Association or DESE themselves.

If you want things to get better, then do something. If you want them to stay the same or get worse, then do what you are doing now, because things aren't going to get better without proactive parents and community members. Remember, those schools belong to the community, not to administration or the board. They are yours. Demand something better and don't stop until you get what you want.

Anonymous said...

When did employees take this survey?
For the record, not all the TLC's became administrators--I know of 3who left the district because they didn't seem to fit with what the others were doing. Two others left to be principals but those others did not.
I wonder if this is why the board quit publishing resignations and retirements.

Anonymous said...

9:25 - so do it, already. Don't attack, encourage.

Mike Glodo said...

Anonymous wrote "You can call all of the parents you know, set up a time and place to meet (and yes, you can reserve a school space for this), call PTO/Booster leaders from all schools, put out flyers and Facebook notices, invite administration and the school board, and present your questions. Also invite the media. If no one from the administration or the board has the nerve to show up, then discuss amongst yourselves the changes you demand. Create petitions and sign them. If the media is there, and I believe they will show up, then you can bet the board will get the message. If that doesn't work, then contact, as a group, the Missouri School Board Association or DESE themselves."

Joplin citizens did have a meeting. Huff did not show up. Nor did others. The message from Missouri legislature was this was a done deal. Common Core is a great process for funding the self-interest education lobby. Parents seem to try to be engaged... but they run into the paid-for bureaucrats who seem to have coaching on the fine line just before slander or libel.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:27...

I'm not posting to argue. Unless you know personally what someones intent to better themselves might be, stating your perspective about Teaching and Learning Coaches (TLC's) can, especially in a social media setting, give others a negative feeling about someones ideas to improve education for students and to provide support for teachers. It is so easy to assume or derive an opinion about things when you may or may not have all the information available. Everyday CEO's across the country make decisions for their businesses to do what they think is best and people aren't always happy about what they decide. They make those decisions based on all they know. Do we always like what the CEO does? No, so we can either work to make things better remembering that our goal as educators, our bottom line, is that our decisions are all about what is best for our students, not what is always easiest for ourselves. All of the TLC's that I am familiar with went into the "coaching" program to help support educators to be the best they could be as life long learners. The opportunity to be involved in a grass roots program with the potential that Teaching and Learning Coaches would and did provide for educators was an incredible opportunity. Many professions today require continued education (CE's) hours to maintain their licenses. Why shouldn't the most important people, those who teach our future have the opportunity to receive support from a coach and keep them up to date in an ever changing world of education, providing educators with whatever support or information they need or want to improve themselves? Those that went on to be administrators always wanted to move towards the career path of an administrator. Why become an administrator? Because it is about touching more students lives on a larger scale. It's about making a difference in students lives. The opportunity to work and obtain training as an instructional coach and working with teachers was and is another opportunity to make a difference in student lives on a larger scale. Perceptions are where people tend to live. Negative perceptions breed negativity. What positive perspectives are we promoting? TLC positions were not created as a "step" towards administration. They were created to support teachers. As an educator, I valued the input and support to improve my teaching. Somethings worked, somethings didn't but without putting forth an effort I would have never known or grown in my profession to make my teaching better for my students. It was, is, and continues to be what is best for students.

I did not mean to get on a soap box, but please be careful when you strike out at others because many of us get included in that negativity and are frustrated with the fact that sometimes...all of your facts or your perspective on your facts are not necessarily correct.

G. Dust said...

I was on the front lines for forty-three years, and I witnessed what teaching to a yearly test has done to education in Missouri. One test determines a child's educational status and may serve to discourage rather than teach the child anything. The TEST has become so important that some school districts have carelessly reduced recess and P.E. requirements, forgetting that physical activity stimulates learning.
I read the English section of the high school MAP test every year and found out from a MAP grader how the writing sections were scored. An answer about a reading piece could be right, but students were not reminded to include the question in the answer. If they did not do so, bleep. No credit . The essay graders had a simple list of points to look for.
Surprisingly, some state graders were not English writing teachers. For years, our English department asked the state for examples of what they considered A, B, C D, or F essays. We never received a response. I also noted the MAP test's special grammar terminology, which one needed to know in advance to teach one's students. But teachers were not privy to that terminology until after the test, which teachers were not supposed to keep.
Our school changed our entire English curriculum to line up with the MAP test's requirements. That process cost a lot of money and the loss of an English teacher to manage the work. As English teachers who developed and taught the curriculum and knew when students could better learn certain skills, we begrudgingly had to change several upper level skills to the 9th or 10th grades.

Years later, when I was I was told by the district "teaching coach" to include questions on my literature tests that imitated the style of the MAP test, I went to my department chair and informed her, "This is it. I will not go this far any more to teach to a test, especially a flawed one."
I retired - the second time.

Now, lock-step teaching in many districts is taking the creativity and enrichment out of teaching. I hear from former bright students who are teaching English in Missouri. They are feeling stifled, so they will be looking for positions elsewhere.
I see a future in which Missouri will be left with mediocre teachers who "follow orders" from people who no longer teach and from many who have degrees in Education, not the content of core classes. And if some have been teachers, they have burned out teaching six classes a day and run to positions at the administration building, which pay more and require less stamina every day.

Since I taught English before the the mandated, unfunded, penalizing "No Child Left Behind" law, I have seen great teaching in Missouri. The Joplin High School from which I graduated has been replaced with a glitzy chandelier and state-of-the-art equipment. The school provided iPads may facilitate learning and teaching for those students who have internet access, but the most important influence in a classroom is an energetic, impassioned teacher (which Joplin has reduced to the position of reduced recess and P.E. classes).
This year the district has cut ten days from the required number of teaching days for teachers' meetings and added ten minutes to the school day. So, which classes get the ten minutes? And how will the required material in the curriculum be covered? Those days equal two weeks of teaching days, which a good teacher uses up until the final exam.
What are the priorities of Missouri school district administrators?