Sunday, May 31, 2015

Joplin Globe editorial: C. J. Huff is amazing, hired excellent leaders

If there was ever any doubt that the Joplin Globe is in bed with the Joplin Progress Committee/CART cabal that hijacked the tornado recovery process, that doubt was erased with Friday's editorial praising departing Superintendent C. J. Huff.

I don't suppose too many people had any doubts about the Globe's allegiance in the first place, and that allegiance is definitely not to its dwindling reader base.

That was proven convincingly when the Globe went to court to get the complete Loraine Report released, then buried its contents and never adequately addressed the conflict of interest allegations that were made against Joplin City Councilman Mike Woolston or the reasons why Tom Loraine thought the city should immediately cut its ties with master developer Wallace-Bajjali.

Instead, the Globe's coverage was focused on the portions of the report that concerned fired City Manager Mark Rohr. For the most part, voters went to the polls not knowing that the investigation placed Woolston under a cloud.

When Wallace-Bajjali slithered out of Joplin, the Globe was quick to editorialize about how awful the Texas firm was and how Joplin did not need them anyway, both of which are accurate statements. What was not mentioned, and what has remained unmentioned since are the people who brought Wallace-Bajjali to Joplin, people who, like the Joplin Globe, never bothered to check into the serious allegations against David Wallace and his company because they were so blinded by a con artist who promised them he could deliver everything they had been trying unsuccessfully to do for years.

At this point, I should correct a notion that people seem to have that I was the one who revealed the existence of the Joplin Progress Committee. Credit for that goes to the Joplin Globe, which announced its existence in a page one article in November 2013 that treated the PAC's creation like it was the greatest thing that had ever happened in Joplin- a group of like-minded leading citizens was going to screen candidates for City Council and Board of Education so it could choose people who would continue the types of policies that Mark Rohr had instituted in the city and that C. J. Huff was using in the school district. If you wanted to join, all you had to do was have enough money.

After that initial announcement, the Globe has rarely mentioned the committee and has done nothing to follow the money that has been funneled from the JPC to its favored candidates.

Nor has the Globe looked at the committee's success ratio. In this year's school board race, the only candidate endorsed by the committee who won was Lane Roberts. The people of Joplin obviously did not feel they needed the endorsement of the community's self-appointed leading citizens to decide who would best represent their interests.

However, there is no doubt that the people who make up the Joplin Progress Committee and whose members are sprinkled throughout organizations such as CART (Citizens Advisory Recovery Team) and the Bright Futures groups are still calling the shots as far as the Joplin Globe's editorial board is concerned.

How else can you explain Friday's editorial praising C. J. Huff?

The editorial began with this gushing passage:

C. J. Huff announced the end of his tenure as superintendent of the Joplin School District on Thursday in a letter to educators in which he described them as "amazing." He applauded their sacrifices, their collective commitment to excellence under extreme circumstances, their patience and their efforts to see their school district recover from the ravages of the May 2011 tornado.

We could say much the same about Huff.


Toward the end of the Globe's love letter came the most stunning statement of all:

Because Huff hired some excellent leaders during his tenure, we feel confident, as does he, that progress can continue.

Since the Globe soft-pedaled a devastating state audit of the school district, it must have ignored the part that noted that many of those who are serving in the Huff Administration are not qualified for the jobs they hold.

During his time in Joplin, C. J. Huff has systematically removed a number of administrators who had experience and ability and replaced them with many people whose sole qualification is that they will go along with anything he wants to do without question. That is a recipe for disaster and that disaster has been as devastating in its own way to the Joplin R-8 School District as the tornado was.

Only in a C. J. Huff Administration could people like Chief Operations Officer Tina Smith and Buildings Program Director Mike Johnson rise to the top and those non-educators have been placed in charge of much that had previously been done by people who had extensive backgrounds in education.

Huff and his supporters have bragged about how they have cut administrative costs primarily by eliminating all three assistant superintendent positions, however the only way he has been able to seriously make that claim is because the teaching/learning coaches (and administration spies) that have been placed in each building and who have been promoted into upper level administration positions, are not included in those administrative costs.

Apparently, those costs also do not include the extensive, unnecessary public relations apparatus Huff has installed, including not just a community development director, but an alumni relations specialist, a public relations director, and an events coordinator.

The person who has been in placed in charge of curriculum, Sarah Stevens, has just a small amount of classroom experience and was one of those who was rapidly promoted through the ranks after being a teaching/learning coach. Because of Stevens' lack of a background in curriculum, the district is hiring an assistant for her who does have that background.

No wonder she feels the need to spend $103,000 of the taxpayers' money to bring in an outside consultant.

The Executive Director of Elementary Education Jennifer Doshier was promoted to her top-level post after failing miserably as principal at McKinley Elementary, where during her last year, nearly the entire faculty either resigned or was fired. That was enough to earn her a promotion in a C. J. Huff Administration.

At McKinley, she was replaced by Terri Hart, who was not even certified as a principal until she had already held the job for a semester. Hart had moved from the curriculum director job to principal so she could get the administrative experience she needed to one day become a superintendent.

Please, Joplin Globe, start naming the excellent leaders C. J. Huff has hired.

It would be much easier to name the excellent leaders he has run out of the school district.

This all could have been prevented. People forget that there was a local media source that warned us that at his previous job as superintendent Huff had been criticized for overspending, low test scores, and running off veteran educators in favor of people with far less experience.

That was included in a Joplin Globe article from 2008 when the Board hired Huff. At most newspapers, those would have been the things that would have been watched as the Huff Administration took over. Under Editor Carol Stark's Joplin Globe, those failings have been treated like badges of honor.

The only thing that matters is that Huff has provided the kind of school district that the self-appointed leaders want to see for Joplin.

Thankfully, the Joplin Globe's influence, much like its readership, is not anywhere near what it used to be.


Anonymous said...

Well done! My and many others sentiments exactly!

Anonymous said...

Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job,

Anonymous said...

Lest us not forget the JRC another group of upstanding citizens that sold Joplin down the river. Not sure of all members but there surely is an overlap of membership.

Anonymous said...

The Joplin school district is now a joke because of CJ Huff. I hope at some point we can get a credible person back in charge, there are many out there up to the job. But we need the system to work correctly to get a replacement. Not one pushed into place by self interest local business groups, but one that represents the citizens of Joplin.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious, since you've done extensive research on Joplin Schools, and have been a teacher, what would you do to right the ship?

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget Jason Cravens, whose "nice guy" reputation earned him a "yes man" job, seated at the right hand of CJ Huff. Mr. Cravens' only administrative experience is as an assistant principal at JHS. He has never been in charge of a building. He has never hired nor fired employees. The buck has never stopped at HIS desk. Nice guy, but he, too, must be added to the list of the unqualified at central office.

Anonymous said...

A turd is a turd, and by any other name would smell just as foul.

The Globe/CART/JPC/etc.. can spin this any way they like. They can portray CJ as the second coming just so long as in reality he is actually going,

Anonymous said...

In the face of declining scores and a lowered accreditation level every year that Huff has been here, the Globe has embarrassed itself with this editorial. I suppose a loss of at least half of the district's teaching staff means nothing to the Globe, either, or that staff is paid so much less than the state average than any district around here, while that lousy team of administrators is paid way above the state average. Blatant pandering to CJ Huff makes the Globe something I wouldn't get to line the dog pen with. Even my dog is too smart to want this inflicted on him. The question then, is, what is the Globe getting from their actions? They pandered to Huff, Rohr, Speck. They have backed all the wrong people. Did Stark's hands get dirty, too, or is this just sheer stupidity. Even Stark doesn't seem this stupid, so it must be yet another layer of corruption.

Anonymous said...

These people will happily sacrifice the education of children in order to protect their private interests. And the Globe has helped them. I hope they can get caught in the collusion trap too.

Anonymous said...

I think the board should name Dr Sachetta Interim Superintendent. I Dont consider myself to be on any one side or the other but believe he is the best R8 candidate for the job. It gives the board a chance to evaluate him and then he can be considered with other outside candidates. The BOE must be committed to move forward even in turmoil.

Anonymous said...

I hope at some point we can get a credible person back in charge, there are many out there up to the job. But we need the system to work correctly to get a replacement.

We have a big problem here. There are so many school districts, cities, and colleges in the country that the demand far outstrips the talent pool, that's part of how we ended up with known losers like Besendorfer (who if I remember correctly had to leave her previous school district after her school board supporters lost their reelections), Huff, Rohr (both reported on by the old Globe before they came here) and Speck (least obvious, but there was evidence at his previous school that was never investigated). And all that points out how our community's leadership, even with the talent pool problems, is awful at vetting people.

Or maybe not, while Speck was an existential threat to MSSU with no potential upside I'm aware of, perhaps Huff and Rohr were conveniently awful for some beneficiaries, at least in the short term (in the long term ruining a city does you no good unless you and your kin retire elsewhere).

What we really need is to figure out what narratives make sense out of all this. Yeah, people have financially benefited from these losers being in positions of power in Joplin, but that seems inadequate, especially the sums of money not counting the city (where the audit as well as Randy's latest book might be illuminating). Maybe the "Inner Ring" that C.S. Lewis wrote about? In simpler terms, the group of "cool kids" who gain the most benefit from simply being part of that group, although of course there are other more worldly benefits.

Anonymous said...

That's a big? There are many scenarios that are more truth than gossip. But what exactly motivates this is beyond understanding. At least for now and the story may never be ours to ponder. I'm sure many prospered financially while our city and schools paid but can that be all? The audit will be released for school and city maybe offer more clues but i fear to the schools true financial situation and who got what will require more. Due diligence is in order as we hire new superintendent and I am sure our new elected will. As we question the reason behind these last bizarre actions of these citizens let's keep moving toward the real goals.

Anonymous said...

The candidate group that was mentioned is similar to what happened in Neosho. Neosho's elite put together their own selection committee. The Globe reported the group spent over $20,000 to support two candidates and defeat the incumbent. The incumbent won.

It appears both Neosho and Joplin voters are smarter than the rich and powerful want them to be.

Anonymous said...

The advantage that the Joplin School District has (over other school districts) is that they are paying the soon to be Ex-Superintendent $177,000 per year. This salary amount is very high when compared to what other Superintendents are making. So for a $177,000 salary the Joplin School District should be able "recuit" top notch talent.

The Superintendents of surrounding school districts (such as Carl Junction, Webb City, Neosho, etc) deal with the same issues as Joplin (maybe on a smaller scale) and know the area. They may be excellent candidates (if they are interested(.

Anonymous said...

9:02 AM: The problem is, "$177,000 for how long?"

The governance of the school district is in extreme flux due to a political faction fight, and without an insane golden parachute to guard against the high risk of getting fired no one good would take the job until that fight is well and truly settled. Which would be sometime after the next election, probably after the election following in 2017.

Note this is one of the good reasons new executives of companies in great distress get high pay and a huge guaranteed payment upon separation any time soon after being hired. There's every chance they'll lose their job through no fault of their own, and they may not be able to get a similar one afterwords. This of course doesn't guarantee you'll get a good leader, just makes it possible. And since in jobs like these, including this one following Huff, no matter what is done a lot of people will be very unhappy....

Anonymous said...