Monday, April 06, 2015
Globe can't confirm test scores are down or that district was accredited with distinction
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.