(The latest post from our anonymous Joplin R-8 Administration source. The first half was originally left off because I read my comments from the most recent backward.)
The first half of this post did not make it's way onto this blog post it seems. It said:
Perhaps Dr. Huff doesn't address Mr. Turner because it is widely known that Mr. Turner isn't interested in the truth. Rather, he is interested in a headline that results in a paycheck for him. I can't speak for Dr. Huff, but that would be my guess.
But to address your questions, I would say that I did discuss the DESE scores in a previous post. Nobody is blindly unaware that there is growth to be had. Someone ought to interview the curriculum department to see what has been done to address those issues. Does anyone know? Or are we just being critical? Because I know that Read 180 has brought TREMENDOUS results with elementary and middle school kids. I know that the Reading Matters initiative is designed to educate parents about the importance of early literacy from birth to age 5 (when 90% of brain connections form) is critical to long term success in school. The hope is that if kids come to school ready (which over half do not), we won't have to spend the first several years of elementary school playing catch up. I know that the TLC's that Mr. Turner likes to bash are designed to help teachers implement peer reviewed, proven educational best practices to improve instruction (and thus scores) in our district. They work one on one with teachers - something that no administrator can possibly take time to do each day. They are NOT spies, and in fact no teacher has ever been reported to Dr. Huff by a TLC for not conforming. The role of the TLCs is to come alongside teachers, supporting, encouraging, investing in and helping develop educators. They're not administrators - they're excellent teachers who are highly trained to support other teachers. Or what about the near doubling of the mentoring programs in the district this last year, increasing community involvement in helping kids with reading by utilizing volunteers? Nobody's ignoring the reading issue.
And do you know, sir, that the issues that prevented Joplin from receiving the Race to the Top grant are NOT being addressed? Because they are (another issue the TLCs are addressing).
I do understand the point that was being made regarding the social media employee, etc. IE: if we spend money on "extra" people, we don't spend money on educators. But what if the educational problems are not all instructional in nature? Much of the problem is that parents and the community have been checked out and/or feel ill-informed and thus can't duly support their kids' education. Quality consistent communication coming out of the district helps with that. If we help solve those problems, it will in turn improve educational outcomes.
I also know that the district went through an extensive process involving the community to develop the Standards of Excellence that are being rolled out over a 5 year period (they're on the district website) - improving not only educational arenas, but communication, facilities, employee morale, parent experiences, community partnerships, etc. The district is well ahead of schedule on most of the benchmarks - but there is work to do.
I know that HR just sent out an employee survey administered by a third party agency so as to ensure the confidentiality of employees so that they can be completely forthright without fear of consequence (ie. attempting to fully listen to hear the concerns of employees). The results will enable them to identify problems and work with teams to develop strategies to improve them. Prior to a couple of years ago, there wasn't an HR department. Morale was low because nobody was specifically tasked with working to keep it up (aside from the already over-worked principals). That is changing. It's not perfect, but they're working.
Morale has been low for YEARS. And our district has experienced a GREAT amount of trauma…people are tired. Everyone realizes there's much work to do, but the district is on it. Again…big ships turn around slowly.
This commenter is not here to selectively rebuke, but perhaps to shed some light on what has been an incredibly dark place that has caused unbelievable division in our community. What if we came together around the school district in support? Ask the questions - it is truly your right and responsibility as a citizen of this community. But to defame and destroy hard working people who love kids and are doing everything in their power to make Joplin Schools better than they have ever been is just flat wrong. And today was apparently the day that I decided to say something.