First, there was no audience. From what I am hearing from readers, many people are upset about the Joplin Globe's decision to bar the public from tonight's forum, but to open the doors next week for the Joplin City Council forum.
The second thing that was missing was even more important. At no point did either of the incumbents, Board President Jeff Flowers or Randy Steele, say anything about the changes that have taken place in the school district since they joined the board.
They didn't note the new buildings, they made only brief mention of the 1-1 technology that it has been implemented at the high school and with eighth graders in the three middle schools.
Not a word was uttered, by Flowers or Steele, at least, about the tripling of jobs in central administration, or the extra layers of administration, characterized as teaching and learning coaches, or 21st Century coaches, that have been added, at much cost, but with little result.
No one said anything about the upcoming opening of the 21st Century Joplin High School, with its allegedly innovative career pathways, or the six career pathway leaders, four of whom have no education background, but will be heavily involved in making educational decisions.
Bright Futures was mentioned only by Shawn McGrew, while site councils were left to Lynda Banwart and McGrew, who was also the only one to mention other Huff programs.
McGrew was the only one who tried to make a case for C. J. Huff's initiatives.
The issues, as defined by the questioners, and also by candidates Jeff Koch, David Guilford and Debbie Fort, are clearly defined- spending, teacher turnover/morale, Common Core Standards/local control over curriculum, and board transparency.
The 21st Century schools have been the talk of Superintendent C. J. Huff, former Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer, and on other occasions, R-8 board members.
But when it came the time to state why they should remain on the board, Randy Steele and Jeff Flowers mentioned none of these things that have, according to C. J. Huff, made Joplin America's School.
Randy Steele did say there are a lot of good things going on in the school district. He mentioned the accomplishments of the high school's Constitution Team, and was the only person to mention the graduation rate, albeit briefly.
For the most part all either of them said was they wanted another three years.
Why should we give it to them? I am still waiting for them to say.
As for the other candidates, my guess is Jeff Koch said it best for all of them. "We spent a lot of money on buildings and technology. We need to spend that money on teachers and students."