Monday, June 08, 2015
Bob Steere calls out the Joplin Globe, Burlingame
In recent days, it has run guest columns by Anson Burlingame and Bob Steere about the ongoing problems in the Joplin R-8 School District. Both are simply listed as living in Joplin. Whether that is done to put them on equal footing with the readers or for some other reason, I do not know.
Whatever the reasoning, it is a disservice to readers who do not know either man.
Burlingame is a self-appointed expert on education who has inflicted himself upon the reading public and upon Joplin R-8 educators, Steere is a highly respected retired Missouri Southern State University professor, who was involved in the education of prospective teachers for more than a generation.
While Burlingame talks continually of having read one book, The Bell Curve, about education, Steere has written books about education.
In his column, Steere called out the Globe on its editorial praising departing Superintendent C. J. Huff:
It was informative for the Globe to review the superintendent's specific successes, but why not mention his job-related specifics that caused his retirement? Maybe the editorial was meant to be an obituary.
Steere also questioned the Globe editorial's assertion that Huff had hired excellent administrators, noting the following:
Surely the Globe did not do its own reporting to justify its "excellent" rating based on the superintendent approving the hiring of a top administrator to oversee the education of the district's elementary students and then allowing her to attend five out-of-state conferences and in-state conferences- at a cost of almost $5,000 of taxpayers' money- to enable her for the position.
Steere then politely ripped into Burlingame's column that ran the same day as that editorial. Steere questioned how Burlingame could refer to Jeff Koch, Debbie Fort, and Jennifer Martucci as a cabal, "but those in support of the superintendent, Michael Landis, Randy Steele, and Lynda Banwart, are not a secret clique and are the only ones remaining to 'do their best for the public education system.' "
Steere challenged the Globe on its seeming rush to attack, Koch, Fort, and Martucci, especially when Koch and Martucci have been on the board for less than two months:
So dear readers, do not be overly discouraged by our board's problems. The problems will come to pass, and our district will become one of distinction. Join me in supporting our new board.
It doesn't say much for the Joplin Globe when it puts its own creation, Burlingame, on the same level as Bob Steere. Fortunately, most people can recognize a well-considered, intelligent column when they read it.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having guest columnists writing about our schools who are not educators. There are many parents and other taxpayers who can offer worthwhile views. There are students who can provide different points of view.
That the Globe continues to run one column on education after another by a man whose knowledge of public education appears to be limited to reading The Bell Curve and staring deeply into C. J. Huff's eyes, is just another reason why so many people have found that a daily newspaper is not the necessity they once thought it was.