Monday, April 06, 2015

Globe can't confirm test scores are down or that district was accredited with distinction

If you want to say that the Joplin R-8 School District was accredited with distinction during the days when Jim Simpson was superintendent, but has not been since C. J. Huff arrived, you are not going to say it in the Joplin Globe unless you provide documentation in triplicate, stamped by a notary, and accompanied by a Joplin Progress Committee Seal of Approval.

The same applies to any claims that test scores have gone down every year since C. J. Huff first hit the local scene in 2008.

Last week, I saw the text of Ryan Jackson's letter to the editor about the Joplin R-8 Board of Education race on Kim Seavy's Justice for Joplin Facebook page where Seavy noted it had been submitted for publication to the Joplin Globe.

Seavy said he was running it so people could make comparisons to see how it had been edited after it was printed in the Globe. That's what I did last night, comparing the text of the letter on the Justice for Joplin page to the letter on the Globe's opinion page.

I was appalled.

This morning, I talked with Ryan Jackson who explained what happened with his letter and though Jackson said nothing disparaging about our area's newspaper of record, what he told me was troubling, to say the least.

Jackson said he was out of town until Thursday evening and had not heard from the Globe as of Friday afternoon, He contacted Editor Carol Stark to see if she had received the letter. Stark said she was out of town, but that Andy Ostmeyer was trying to reach him about the letter's content.

"A while later, my phone rang and it was Andy.  Andy was talking to me about my letter and told me that it appeared I was stating a lot of facts without citation and that he was uncertain of the accuracy of the claims of declining scores, rankings of achievement that existed in the past versus what are the rankings now, etc.  I mentioned where I knew most this from including what I knew from reading their own publication.  The problem I was running into was now it was nearly 4 p.m. on Friday and I had little time to go research every last detail they were questioning.  I asked Andy if he could maybe go through and highlight what he wanted me to revise and state as more of an opinion, he asked me to give him a few minutes and he'd send something over.  About 20 minutes later I received a copy of what the Globe wanted to print.  I fixed a typo and said "ok print it"."

What Ostmeyer did, judging from the final product, is to completely remove any references to the lower test scores or the school district's accreditation with distinction, and water down Jackson's opinions by adding the crutch phrase "I believe" in front of Jackson's assertion that since Huff arrived the emphasis has not been on academic performance and his belief that the problems in the R-8 system began well before the tornado.

It does not appear that the same thorough vetting was done for the guest column on the opposite page written by Joplin Progress Committee leader and CART member Clifford Wert, which though Wert's name is attached, featured information that appears to have come directly from the C. J. Huff pipeline.

If Joplin Globe editors do not know without someone showing them that the district received Accreditation with Distinction four straight years before Huff arrived and not once since then and if they are unaware that test scores have fallen each year since 2008, that says a lot about their coverage of education.


Anonymous said...

And the Globe wonders why their readership is down.

Anonymous said...

Can't or won't?

Anonymous said...

A letter to the editor is always the opinion of the author so why would it need to be changed?

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Globe cares that their readership is down. They are so biased in their reporting. It's much more important to them to pander to the few than it is to serve the public. I can't imagine why anyone would want to pay for their drivel any longer.

Anonymous said...

The district was accredited with distinction for six years in a row, the last being the first year Huff was here, but that came from work from the year before under Simpson. It was the following year that the district failed to be accredited so highly, and that was the year we started hearing things like there are many ways to measure success, it's hard to hit a moving target, they are measuring for accreditation differently, etc. Angie and CJ became accomplished liars before the tornado hit. It just gave them more to lie about at a time when people were too busy to pay enough attention.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the glob publish each time R8 was accredited with distinction? Don't they publish the scores every year?
What is wrong in this town?

Anonymous said...

I am an educator. I cannot say who I am for fear of retaliation. but I advise anyone that doesn't believe our scores are down to go visit the DESE website. I'm sure you can find proof there.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Koch has put together some data in a format that even Globe reporters, and Carol Stark in a stretch, can understand. My advice is that administrators should look at the good years, figure out what they did then, and go do that some more. Ignore Sarah, Jason, and Jennifer. Put the iPads and computers away since they seem to be making things worse, and use some common sense instruction. You'll save millions in technology, teacher PD, and unnecessary jobs--like Sarah's and her new aide. Problem solved! And I don't make $177,000 a year.