Thursday, January 08, 2015

My answer to Joplin Globe letter condemning those who criticize Joplin R-8 Board

I need to stop reading the Joplin Globe.

Every time I flip through the pages of the area's newspaper of record I find something that irritates me.

The Sunday edition this week featured a letter from Kent Pratt, a Leggett & Platt official from Joplin, saying it was time to leave the Joplin R-8 Board of Education alone:

How can we be so critical of the ones who had all of the facts presented to them and made an emotionless decision according to the facts that they were presented? Every one of the board members are pretty smart community members and have been elected by Joplin residents. I trust their judgment because they are trying to do the best they can with the facts that have been presented to them.

For all of the "stone throwers" out there, I have one question. Is the view pretty good from the "cheap seats" that you are sitting in?

Perhaps you should run for the position during the next election and stop throwing rocks at the people trying to do what they feel is best for the students in the Joplin schools.

I am curious about what board of education Mr. Pratt has been watching.

What an interesting way to run government. We shouldn't be allowed to criticize them because we don't know what they have been through. We are not in possession of all of the information the board has, so we should keep our opinions to ourselves- unless, of course, we are offering the opinion that the board is doing the best job it can.

If we were to apply that philosophy to every governmental body, how in the world would we ever change our elected officials?

Perhaps the most aggravating part of Mr. Pratt's spirited defense of the Board of Education is his assertion that anyone who disagrees with the elected officials should run for a seat on the board.

Mr. Pratt is old enough that I am sure he received some civics education while he was in school. In order for a representative form of government to work, everyone has to play a role. If everyone who disagreed with elected officials decided to run for those offices, we would have a glut of candidates and most likely, the incumbents would be re-elected.

We also participate by keeping informed, voting, and by finding candidates whose views are closely in line with our own.

Everywhere, it seems, except in Mr. Pratt's world.

If Mr. Pratt's sage advice were to be followed, we would have to accept a number of ideas that simply boggle the mind.

We would have to accept the idea that a board of education should be spending the school district into such a precarious financial situation that it has to borrow $45 million to keep the district afloat. And much of that was due to "might-as-well" spending. But, of course, the board has more information than we do.

We would also need to blindly go along with spending nearly $100,000 to change the seat colors in the high school gymnasium.

No one should see any problem with the chief executive of the school district spending three weeks out of the office traveling across the U. S. and Canada promoting himself and his not-for-profit organization.

We should not even give a second thought to more than 300 teachers leaving the school district in the past three years and the superintendent and his top administrators playing games with those numbers and giving one reason after another why they are leaving (with none of them coming close to the truth).

For years, we did not even have races for the Joplin R-8 Board of Education and a primary reason for that is because the public was fed continuous propaganda that made it sound like everything was sheer bliss in the land of R-8.

Now that people are finally taking notice of the damage C. J. Huff, his administration, and more importantly, the Board of Education that was elected to represent the people and their hard-earned tax dollars has done, people like Mr. Pratt and like those in the Joplin Progress Committee are letting it be known that is is time for us to return to our proper places- after all, nothing is better for a school district, to their way of thinking, than a populace that is willing to accept whatever a few well-to-do, well-heeled citizens wants.

We are not heading in that direction any more, Mr. Pratt.

We owe the people who run for boards of education, city councils, and other elected offices a debt of gratitude for their willingness to put themselves on the line. We don't owe them permanent seats or blind servitude.

That is something they have to earn and when it comes to that, most of the current R-8 Board of Education has failed miserably.


Anonymous said...

Public officials are subject to public criticism, end-of-story. You want to be out-of-the-spotlight, don't campaign for public office.

Second, if having access to all of the facts as presented would make us less critical and more understanding as a public, then this is yet another great argument for transparency - because obviously we would all agree with the board if we had all the facts, yes? If what Mr. Pratt says is true, then encourage your friends to put it all on the table, stop trying to control the message at every turn, and silence the naysayers once and for all.

To recap: The people in question are public officials, elected, serving a role as public stewards, and are therefore beholden to the public. The money the school spends is public money, and is therefore subject to public scrutiny. Any information they have that would save them from criticism would best be shared. If Huff could do that, I have a feeling he would have a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Amen Randy. Tell Pratt to bleat like a sheep.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Mr Pratt wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

It sure is a coincidence to be employed by a place with one name the same as his. I'd be so proud of that. Almost like all those rich people lining up wanting to make business deals with Dubya Bush. They know what they're getting!

Anonymous said...

"Cheap seats"?? Exactly who does he think the "nay-sayers" and complainers are, the childless, unregistered voters of Joplin? They are taxpayers too, and have every right to speak up about where their money goes. However, the majority of those having a voice are teachers, employees of R8, and parents of children in the R8 school district who have extensive knowledge of the board members and the shady dealings they conduct with Huff behind closed doors.
Pratt needs to clean up his own back yard before running his mouth. The Carthage plant has an educational (Or lack thereof) stinch among the executives that can be smelled for miles. Figue that one out Pratt!!

Anonymous said...

10:41 - the company name is Leggett & PLATT. the author of the letter is Kent PRATT.

Anonymous said...

Pratt is a pompous ass who is one of the biggest hypocrites I've ever had the displeasure of acquainting myself with. I agree that he needs to clean up his own backyard first - he should be focusing on that instead of making other public judgments on people.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Pratt, but as they say, first impressions are everything, so I am fairly certain that I do not wish to make his acquaintance. He seems to jump to conclusions without looking at all of the facts. I can only wonder how an executive in a business, where data rules all, could be so blind to the data oozing from the cracks of Joplin R8. Learning is falling off more and more every year, the district is destitute, the new buildings are incredibly defective underneath the shiny veneer, and the morale and confidence of the staff could not get lower. So please, Mr. Pratt, stop making invalid assumptions based on no evidence stronger than wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

It's PRATT, not PLATT. Maybe you should learn how to read before posting ignorant comments. Randy Turner, do you have nothing better to do than criticize Joplin R8 constantly? Get a life! Sorry you are a butter man who was fired from Joplin schools.