Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reader- Joplin R-8 Administration is good, noble, knows much more than we do

A reader reveals the "truth" about what is going on in the Joplin R-8 School District, and to this reader it is nothing like what has been written for the past few months in the Turner Report. This was a comment in response to coverage of Tuesday night's R-8 Board of Education meeting. The reader pushes the idea that the things that are happening in the school district are far too much for our minds to grasp.:

Maybe the three new board members found what everyone on the inside of admin knows…everything is above reproach and makes complete sense when you have all the information. That things are much more complex than they seem to the general public. That there are good people doing good things for the right reasons. 

They know that this is ridiculous sensationalism in an effort for a guy who can't keep a real job because he gets fired everywhere he goes to make money. That's all it's about. It's not truth, people. Do your homework. 

Any comments?


Anonymous said...

I realize that the business of running a district is complicated and that there is information that they choose to not let the public know, but it seems that the public should know all of the information with the exception of personnel records that are protected. I don't think Joplin needs astro-turf or 8 tennis courts. The district's job is to educate...not provide a state of the art jumbotron or video walls in the common area. Put that money towards educating our kids...teachers, books, supplies, etc. That astro-turf won't raise our reading scores like the reading teachers that were fired would have.

Anonymous said...

Re that comment about "truth":

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." (A. Lincoln? PT Barnum?)

"You can fool too many of the people too much of the time." (J. Thurber)

Ted Bundy and Bernie Madoff fooled more than a few along the way to their final reward. Maybe we will all see sometime in the future whether or not it is really all Turner.

Personally I am starting to wonder if the school district has a balloon payment on financial reality coming due soon.

Anonymous said...

Except for DESE scores, which is how school districts in the state are evaluated. In that regard, Joplin is doing poorly - with the exception of graduation rates, which is the one statistic that was focused on above all else because it is the easiest to manipulate.

Also, the teacher and staff turnover is legitimate.

Also, people being let go at the bottom and in the middle (guards, environmental service, reading teachers) while administration at the top continues to expand. Administration with no direct bearing on education, it should be noted. New positions were created in areas like social media.

It is real that money is being spent on sports infrastructure while reading teachers are being let go.

The uncomfortable atmosphere is real, though less quantifiable and therefore less obvious to outsiders, except secondhand via employees and the circumstantial evidence of teacher turnover, etc.

Lest we forget, I'm going to reiterate that DESE scores reflect school evaluations in the state of Missouri. These continue to be low for the region.

With regards to the 7-0 vote, I would say give it some time. Everyone is ready to shut this book and lay down judgment in a relatively short time. They should be given some time to get their bearings. It is also true that someone like Fort cannot be completely adversarial from the start or all the time lest she closes herself off to being able to do much at all - give it a little time, and if things continue down the rubber-stamp road, then the criticisms will be justified. A little patience might be necessary at the start, real change in politics is a slow process.

Anonymous said...

I take issue with the idea that "complex" would result in a 7-0 vote. Complex means things are nuanced and difficult - more likely to be divisive.

Either way, if the information behind the curtain is such that anyone who saw it would be enlightened and suddenly find themselves on the side of Huff, then why on earth would he refrain from releasing that information? Huff's dream is to render Turner ineffective - why wouldn't he do that?

Anonymous said...

Because he would spend all of his time responding to the never-ending accusations of Mr. Turner, who finds every reason to create a sensational headline. Dr. Huff has a district to run.

What if positions were cut due to the loss of revenue from the state because of the decreased amount of revenue from Casinos this year? Truth. Or if those positions were temporary to begin with? Truth.

All the "upper level administrators" do not take one red cent from lower level positions, as they are funded by designated funding streams that cover only those positions - funding streams that we would not have at all if those positions didn't exist.

Positions to do jobs like Facebook? No. A Media specialist who handles ALL of the district media - website, social media, communication, e-newsletters, print publications, etc. She works nearly 80 hours a week trying to keep up with it all and took a pay cut to come here because she believes in our schools.

Bright Futures Joplin? Funded by donors - not the district. Bright Futures USA? A separate 501C3 that is funded by donors as well. Doesn't take a cent from Joplin Schools.

One graphic designer for the ENTIRE district.

Seriously…is it excessive for an organizations with 1,200 employees to have ONE graphic designer and and a communication specialist? As Freeman or Tamko if they have those things! Joplin has simply been one of the few educational systems that has learned from great business and brought in people who really know their craft to handle pieces with excellence, rather than stressing out educators to take these tasks on in addition to what they already do. It's good business because they 1) do better quality work, and 2) are more efficient.

Anyone who is so concerned about the district not being above reproach on finances, there is this thing called the Sunshine Law. March on down to the finance department and request your copy. PLEASE. We welcome it.

And decisions on the building expenses…the community and kids and teachers and principals worked together to design those buildings with the architects. The goal was to build state of the art so they'd be innovative for the next 100 years. Dr. Huff had very little to do with it. And those dollars are also designated - they can't be used on teachers or salaries. Nothing is being taken away from instruction to build buildings. That's just plain senseless.

Anonymous said...

Oh…and scores and things were down long before Huff came. Hence the TLCs - highly trained curriculum coaches who can help teachers be their best one-on-one (something a single principal could never have time to do). He's doing LOTS of things to help the problem - it's not as if anyone is unaware. But this house was built long before Huff came along. He's using what research in the education field tells us works. That's wisdom - but it's progressive, and people don't get it - which is fine. The right thing is rarely popular.

Anonymous said...

Ask the district how much they've spent on improving Reading. The Read 180 program has made RIDICULOUS strides with the elementary schools. The kids that were missed in the pre-Huff regime - they're just doing their best to catch those kids up.

And let's be reminded also that when you have the kind of demographics that Joplin has, we're bound to face these challenges more than surrounding districts.

And why do you think that Webb City is a more popular and successful district? Cardinal pride and an amazing football program. Good athletics = strong parental and community engagement, thus better learning outcomes for kids.

Teacher turnover? No higher than any other district. Mr. Turner has just chosen to highlight Joplin's turnover because he was one of them. Teachers move, retire, decide to stay home with their kids, all sorts of things. If you were to do a real in-depth study of how many people left angry, it would be a VERY small number. And the truth is you can't please everyone, even when you're trying really hard to do so. Not everybody is going to fit at Joplin, and that's okay. Not everybody fits at Webb or CJ either.

Anonymous said...

You would think a commenter with such strong support for the district and who possesses the insight to rebut most of the documented evidence presented over the last few months would choose to share that information using their own name, rather than be anonymous.

Wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

Ah yes…the anonymous advising the anonymous to use his/her name. That makes sense.

If we all used our names, certainly Mr. Turner would have more people's names to google...and then he could smear ALL of our reputations into the ground with half truths, now couldn't he!? I hear he's always looking for a good story that he can be objective about. Yes, I suggest we do that.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 5:40:

There is ample reason for district employees to remain anonymous: fear of retaliation, loss of job, etc. They are instructed to not even look at this blog, much less comment.

There is not, however, reason for supporters to remain anonymous. Why not let the light shine on your positive stance and inside information? Brownie points are a sought-after commodity; much too valuable to leave on the cloak of anonymity.