I don't make a habit of calling people idiots, even when their behavior would certainly seem to indicate the label applies.
That being said, Anson Burlingame is an idiot.
One sign of how far the Joplin Globe has fallen over the past few years has been its eagerness to make this man out to be some sort of wise thinker whose columns should appear in the newspaper's pages. The Globe tried a failed experiment a few years back of setting up certain people in the area as bloggers. At first glance, it seemed like the blogs were a success; they were filled with reader comments.
Unfortunately for the Globe, most of the comments were from their own bloggers, bickering with each other.
How much they were paying these people for their wisdom I have no idea, but the experiment came to a screeching halt a couple of years ago.
Since then, the Globe has propped up the two "conservative" bloggers, Burlingame and Geoff Caldwell, by providing them with regular space on the editorial pages as "guest columnists." Both of them were featured on today's opinion page.
Burlingame's column shows just how little the man knows about what is going on in Joplin.
According to Burlingame, the April school board election centers on one issue- the fact that I was fired from my teaching job. He describes it as "one of the two defining local issues of 2013."
Then he makes it appear my firing is the reason why so many challengers have filed for three Joplin R-8 Board of Education seats:
"If you as a voter feel that the board was right to fire Turner, then you should select candidates who would support similar decisions should they arise in the future. The reverse is true as well. Vote for candidates who believe the board was wrong to fire a tenured teacher if you feel that way."
It is late in the second half of his "guest column" before Burlingame finally acknowledges there are other issues in the school board race, but he names only one- Common Core Standards.
In fact, Anson Burlingame's column and his assessment of the board race is almost exactly what Superintendent C. J. Huff wants this race to be. It is almost as if C. J. bought Anson lunch and explained what is really going on in the district, playing to Burlingame's apparently endless well of self-importance.
Don't get me wrong. My firing is an important issue- but mainly to me. It is not the most important issue that is facing Joplin R-8 voters in April. When Anson Burlingame was doing his research for his column (or accepting the talking points of C. J. Huff), he neglected a few other issues that are far more important:
-The district is dangerously low on funds- This is not some baseless charge that I have made up to get back at C. J. Huff, which has been Huff's approach to everything that has been written on the Turner Report. You have to discount what I am writing because I am a disgruntled ex-employee. You don't have to take my word on the financial situation. The board's own strategic plan indicates our reserves are below 14 percent and will be down to as low as eight percent this year. Then miraculously they will improve to 25 percent in 2015. It is all in the strategic plan which is on the district's website. Mr. Burlingame, that is an issue.
-More than 200 teachers have left the district in two years- This is a sign of an administration out of control. When C. J. Huff says that teachers are leaving because their spouses are finding jobs elsewhere and the board of education fails to challenge him, we have a serious problem. I wrote about the departures based on documentation that is available on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website.
Mr. Burlingame, that is an issue.
-Student privacy invaded- I would be the last person to try to pin the blame on Administration for its hiring of sex criminal Ronny Justin Myers to its technology staff at $67,000 a year. That could happen to anybody. However, C. J. Huff and company discovered in February that Myers had told authorities that he had pornographic photos of 10 Joplin High School girls on his laptop. One of Myers' duties was monitoring the high school students' computers. The authorities, with the help of Administration, were able to identify four of the students. This was in February, 11 months ago. At that time, Huff told the media and the public that Myers worked in the administration building and had no access to students. What Huff never said then and has not to this day mentioned is that Myers had access to the students' laptops, including the webcams on then, giving him unfettered access to private moments in their homes. The board has never addressed this issue. You can say the information is coming from a disgruntled former employee, but it is all available in court records. Mr. Burlingame, that is an issue.
-District wants more taxpayer money- Less than six months after voters passed the largest bond issue in the Joplin R-8 School District's history, Administration was already planning to ask voters for a tax levy increase to fund paying teachers for after and before-school programs. Again, this comes from public documents- the district's application for a federal Race to the Top grant. Mr. Burlingame that is an issue.
I could go on. I have written about so many things over the past few months, all of them backed by sources, nearly all of them also backed by documents. At the same time, the board has approved a strategic plan that calls for reserves to dwindle to nearly nothing, it has approved out-of-control spending by Administration. Money has been spent to create one layer of administration after another, buy all kinds of technology, including technology to spy on teachers to make sure they are using technology, and wi-fi for buses because the teachers are having to make sure all of their lessons are loaded with technology.
The April 2014 Board of Education election is not quite as simple or as simple-minded as Anson Burlingame portrays it in today's Joplin Globe.
If Globe Publisher Michael Beatty and Editor Carol Stark want to make sure that C. J. Huff's views are well known to the voting public, they should cut out the middle man and let Huff provide the columns.
I have heard the taxpayers are paying a nice salary to the people who do C. J. Huff's writing for him.