Sunday, May 31, 2015
Joplin Globe editorial: C. J. Huff is amazing, hired excellent leaders
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.