The following comment, which is also posted in the comment section of the earlier post, offers some thoughts that I felt need to be addressed. I do so at the end of the comment:
Joplin has similar rates of free and reduced lunch (poverty) as other area districts, although about 10% higher than WC.
Other districts pull teachers many days a year for professional development and team planning/curriculum writing.
Other districts used Acuity last year. Other districts require classroom teachers to handle the vast majority of discipline in the classroom. Other districts have high turnover rates. Other districts have technology and teacher-created curriculum taking the place of text books. Other districts have jumped on every buzz-worthy edu trend. Other districts have much higher test scores. Why? Joplin isn't that different from other area districts. So, why the huge difference in measurable achievement?
That's what Turner needs to investigate and report on. We need a detailed comparison to find out the truth. What are the variables? The sad thing is teachers will be blamed for this. Huff is never going to say he is to blame. That's why Turner needs to do some deep digging to find something parents can take to the media.
Show the public how Joplin is different. Is it the number of years of experience? Show us that there is a connection in other districts. Is it class size? Show us the comparison. Is it poverty? Show us. Is it the number of students with IEPs or kids speaking other languages? Show us.
If you can't find any differences, then it's either the teachers, the students, the Admin, or a combination. Report the facts, otherwise people will react emotionally and blame Huff or the teachers, and I don't want teachers blamed. When the evidence isn't stated, it's impossible to make an informed decision.
I like the topics you report Turner, but I want you to do more. I want you to spell it out so that I (and others) can't try to find a different possibility. Write the article "This is Why It's Huff's Fault" and show evidence that the high achieving districts don't also do the same things you've mentioned in this post.
At times, I forget that not everyone has had first hand experience in dealing with what is going on in the Joplin R-8 School District.
I have not only personally dealt with the situation in Joplin, but have kept in touch with teachers in the district, as well as teachers who teach in other districts, teachers who came to Joplin from other districts and teachers who have left Joplin to work in other districts.
I invite any teachers or parents to add information, but this is how I address each of the points made by the reader.
-As far as the poverty situation, I only mentioned it because the Joplin schools that did not score well are generally the ones where the families have the highest poverty level and I am sure that holds true in other districts with multiple schools, as well. It was not intended as an excuse, but an explanation.
-Other districts are moving toward having teachers handle more discipline in the classroom. That is true. However, when students do cross the line, in other districts, there is more support, on the whole, for teachers from the building principals. Some of the schools in Joplin have developed bad reputationx for allowing the unruly children to govern the educational process. Webb City, for example, has always had a reputation for strong discipline. Joplin does not have that reputation and that factor has been cited to me by some of those who have elected to place their children in Webb City, Thomas Jefferson, College Heights, or other schools.
-Other schools use Acuity and unfortunately, some form of it will be used in the future by every school in Missouri since DESE decided to pay millions in taxpayer money to buy the materials. Joplin is the only area school that I have heard of that has tried to build curriculum around it. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks (besides the incredible cost) of having so many people in upper administration is that they all have to make up work to feel useful and mining all of this data apparently makes them feel important. (Actually, they are not the ones who mine it, they have the teachers do it. All they do is look it over and decide which schools are doing it the way they want it done.) Other districts use Acuity as a tool. Joplin uses it as a weapon against the teachers. And it has not worked. Scores have gone down ever since Acuity was implemented in the Joplin R-8 School District. During that time, taxpayers have paid more than a quarter of a million dollars for something that has not worked.
-As for other districts having high teacher turnover rates, tell me locally where this has been taking place. That sounds like the same argument the board of education was making when this issue first came up. Yes, those numbers occur frequently in inner city schools and there will always be turnover, but when 300 teachers leave a district in three years, when nearly all of the principals have been replaced from a district that had been making strong gains before C. J. Huff arrived and scores have decreased each year since then, there is a vacuum in leadership. Those who could have helped Huff and Angie Besendorfer put the district back on track were shoved out the door and replaced with people who do not question anything that is put before them.
-Other districts have technology and teacher-created curriculum, you say, and that is true. I am totally in favor of both. I used technology in my classroom on an everyday basis. Teacher-created curriculum, however, is an entirely different thing from teacher-created lesson plans. In Joplin, meeting after meeting is held to create curriculum and yet for the most part the district has little or no curriculum to show for it and new teachers are not given anything but state general learning expectations (GLEs) or more recently, Common Core. For new teachers, this has been a problem, one that has often been handled by working with veteran teachers. For new teachers who are increasingly surrounded by other new teachers, this becomes a serious situation.
-Teachers in other school districts are shocked when they learn of the number of days Joplin teachers are pulled out of the classroom and about the incredible amount of money the district spends on substitute teachers. As you point out, teachers at other schools are pulled out of school for these kinds of meetings, but you will not see teachers being taken out of the classroom four to 12 weeks during a school year to attend meetings, especially not teachers in tested areas.
- As for other districts adopting new educational; trends, I am sorry to say that has always been a problem in education. Each new trend that comes along will revolutionize schools.. I remember a 1981 interview I did with the superintendent at East Newton Dalton Ham, who thought mastery learning was the greatest thing to ever hit education. By the time I entered the classroom 18 years later, mastery learning had been gone for more than a decade, though like all educational trends, it returns every few years under different names.
My previous post was an analysis of the MAP scores combined with things I know from working in the Joplin R-8 School District, talking with people who have worked there and some who still work there, and by talking with teachers from other districts.
I have a great admiration for the people who teach in the Joplin R-8 School District. I have provided enough documented evidence for the past 16 months that anyone who has been reading should know where the problems lie and it is not with the teachers, nor is it with the students. Scores did not start sinking year after year until C. J. Huff and Angie Besendorfer arrived.
That is evidence enough. And this started three years before the Joplin Tornado, so please do not use that as an excuse.