Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Anson Burlingame is an idiot; the Joplin School Board race is not about me

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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Turner, for pointing out a few of the more pressing issues concerning the Board of Education race this winter. To add to that, you could add lagging student test scores, unreported investigations, the alterations to the building plans for the new schools...

The issues are overwhelming, to say the least, and to reduce them to whether or not potential board members could pass the would-fire/wouldn't fire-Mr. Turner litmus test is ridiculous. It certainly exposes what issue is most important to Mr. Burlingame, but then, you dared to challenge him and his super-sized ego, so you are the main issue in his world. What a petty man.

Please keep talking about the bigger issues here. Your dismissal is a symptom of much bigger problems that administration feared would be revealed by your writings. Anyone who has kept up with the posted documents knows now what they feared would be revealed. Ironically, it was their own foolish choice that cost them. I never knew what the district was up to until you started posting information about the district. It has changed my attitude toward what I see and hear, and it has definitely changed my votes for candidates for the board in April. I will vote for no one who supports Huff and his entourage. I want better schools for my children, and that can only come with a change in the Board.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with your premise that the election is not about your dismissal, and agree with your list of actual issues, I see no need for name calling. Fanning electoral flames with incivility and obvious disrespect should be left to our esteemed national leaders and their lapdogs. I would think your agenda, whatever it may be, would be better served by continuation of your fact finding and its accompanying documentation. Educate, Mr. Educator!

Anson Burlingame said...

This is from Anson Burlingame, the idiot.

First I take no real offense at the title of your blog, Randy. I have been called far worse on other blogs. And for sure I never expect full agreement with anything that I write publicly. So fire away whenever you feel compelled to do so.

The real crux of the issue in the upcoming BOE election is stated rather clearly in my column. Do we want a "hands on" BOE or one that will let individuals do as they please in our classrooms, and in your case, outside of them as well.

Much is being said, in you case months ago and now with the Kansas Board of Regents, about freedom of speech in academia. I support it completely, for sure. You or anyone else in such positions, positions of public trust, paid for with public dollars. have all the right in the world to speak you minds, publicly.

But what you say must be held accountable by voters, the only real way that citizens can control such speech. If I disagree with you I can do nothing but write about such disagreement. But elected officials can do more and should, in my view.

You violate numberous BOE policies and such was "proven" in a legal proceeding to the satisfaction of 7 elected officials. Good for them in my view. We need more like them for sure to state clearly the policies that should guide education and then enforce those policies with what is missing in many classrooms, real RIGOR.

About 4 of the 8 candidates now having filed for election to the BOE are right out of your "camp". Good for them to make the effort to turn Joplin education into a "Turner program" that will perpetuate the same issues in public education so well pointed out over a decade ago in the Bell Curve.

Then read Ripley's new book The Smartest Kids in the World. You and your type of teachers would not last a minute in a system such as Finland sustains. Read the book to see why.

THAT is what this upcoming BOE election is all about and THAT is what I will try hard to promote for candidates running for that office.

But don't expect any long harangues in comments on this blog. We both know full well what the other believes in terms of how to improve education and we both disagree with great strenght, with each other.

So be it. Let the voters now decide just who is the "idiot"

Your later appology is accepted by the way.

Anson Burlingame

Anonymous said...

It's truly amazing to me how people who aren't teachers (such as Anson Burlingame) try to tell teachers how to do our jobs. The reason the United States has lower achievement scores than countries like Finland, South Korea, and China is primarily because education is the top priority to families in those countries. It is NOT the top priority to most families in the U.S.; in fact, it's often not even in the top 10 list of priorities. I know.....I've been a teacher for 31 years. You don't have to be a genius to know that families who are involved in their children's education, support the teachers and schools, and have children who have been taught to be respectful are going to have children who are MUCH MUCH more successful in school. I agree with you, Randy.....Anson Burlingame IS an idiot!!!