Friday, March 28, 2014

Joplin Globe does in-depth investigation of R-8 cuisine, nothing about issues

Anyone who listened to what was being said during the Joplin R-8 Board of Education candidate forum Monday night (the one the Joplin Globe would not allow the public to attend) heard plenty of things that would make the ears of any good investigative reporter perk up.

-David Guilford pointed out that the lack of transparency in the way business is conducted in the school district began in 2008, the year that C. J. Huff and board candidates Jeff Flowers and Randy Steele arrived. Of course, that can't be a story because the Globe told us a few months back about how transparent the board and Huff are, taking Huff's talking points and doing no more investigating.

-Debbie Fort noted that while Joplin teachers continue to have lower salaries than the rest of the area, Huff has one of the highest salaries for superintendents. According to DESE statistics I just read on Jeff Koch's Facebook page, Joplin teacher salaries are below Neosho, Carl Junction, Webb City, and Carthage, even though Joplin has a higher percentage of its teachers who have master's degrees. In fact, Joplin's teachers' salaries rank 163rd in the state. Meanwhile, Huff's salary is ranked 32nd in the state, compared for example, to 96th for Webb City's superintendent. Where is the Joplin Globe investigation on this? Joplin teachers have become used to receiving little or no salary increases while the district has poured money into creating new non-teaching jobs, extra layers of highly paid administrators, and of course, all kinds of technology. The board has continued to increase Huff's salary, while Huff passes it along by creating extra Eagle Pride days where his teachers can wear bluejeans. All he has to do is let the teachers wear bluejeans and sign his messages "For the kids," and everyone will be happy. I am not anticipating we will see any Joplin Globe investigations on Joplin teachers' salaries (or for that matter C. J. Huff's salary).

-Jeff Koch was the first candidate at the forum to suggest that we bring spending under control (something Randy Steele said on KZRG, but seems to have forgotten now). While Steele and Flowers indicated that would cost people jobs, probably the only jobs that would need to disappear are the ones that were added through the grants the administrators are so happy to keep applying for and the extra layers of administration that have been added. Unfortunately, when the grants are done, somehow all of these salaries are absorbed into the general budget (or laundered through Title I). Again, the Globe has never done anything to examine the ever-growing number of people who work for the R-8 School District and have nothing whatsoever do with the classroom.

-Debbie Fort noted that the staff at the central administration office has tripled from the time C. J. Huff took the reins. The Globe, meanwhile, has stood in awe when Huff said he would not replace former Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer.

And finally, a critical topic for this school district- the high teacher turnover. It has been blamed on the tornado. In the pages of the Globe, C. J. Huff had the nerve to say the teacher turnover was due to teachers' spouses finding jobs in other cities, conjuring up images of the little women having to follow where their husbands go. The Globe has never investigated the real problems that have gripped the Joplin R-8 School District. People are leaving because of the way the school district has been operated since C. J. Huff arrived. Some have left on their own, even if they did not have jobs lined up. Others have been run out of the district. No one wants to talk to the Globe about it, because the Globe has made it clear it doesn't listen to people who will not allow their names to be used, even if using the names could cost the people their jobs. C. J. Huff has used people like Angie Besendorfer, Mike Johnson, and Tina Smith to maintain an iron grip on the school district and the Globe has turned a blind eye, despite the negative effect this has had on the teachers, staff members, and students in the district.

In Thursday's Joplin Globe, the newspaper devoted more than half of its page one coverage to the Joplin R-8 School District. One would think when the most important school board election in recent memory is less than two weeks away, issues like teacher turnover, school financing, or district transparency might deserve that kind of coverage.

The education issue that dominated page one with a story and two large photos was a master chef competition at Franklin Tech.

Joplin Globe readers may not know anything about how the school district is being operated by reading the newspaper, but it knows everything it needs to about R-8 cuisine.


Anonymous said...

I've come to the conclusion that no one at the Globe knows how to investigate anymore. Carol has suffocated them for so long that they just don't know how to do anything but cut-and-paste AP articles.

I'm happy for the kids in the paper, but how about looking after the teachers behind the kids, and looking after the tax dollars provided to the district? Come on, Globe, and get the job done.

Anonymous said...

They did manage to put in something about the school bus incident. I guess they had to since KOAM had the story first. Maybe KOAM needs to do the investigating and then the Globe will have to follow suit.

Anonymous said...

KOAM had Lisa O. at the ad building the night the school board members spent the night. She didn't report anything about that. I'm about to give up hope that any official news group around here is going to report anything but what they want people to know and believe. That used to be the editorial part of the paper or news broadcast. Now, it's the whole thing.