It's not a problem until you put a face to it.
When the Turner Report published the names, positions, salaries, and extra-duty pay of every employee of the Joplin R-8 School District, it immediately started a firestorm, surprisingly not in the blog comments area, but on my personal Facebook page.
It started with this comment:
Randy Turner you are a shameless soul.
I cannot believe that you would broadcast the earnings of every individual employed by the district. Though it may be public information, it is wrong to publicly announce that without the consent of each individual.
I agreed with the ousting of Huff and that having to buy him out of contract was and still is ludicrous. However to post this information about people who were involved and the ones who had nothing to do with it.
You are a terrible person.
You should try using some tact in your future reports. If you can manage to get rid of the chip on your shoulder that you have with the R8. You will most likely have just spawned arguments amongst the faculty, disrespected what teachers that do still follow you, and upset what I am sure is a delicate balance.
Let's not forget the teachers of R8 are shaping the minds that will be the future of our community. They need our support, not ridicule and reporting of what most consider to be private financial information by an antagonist of a reporter. You my good sir, have lost a reader.
That reader, whose name I am withholding since his comment was on my Facebook page and not on the blog, was not the only one who criticized the release of the salary information.
Here are a few more:
And back to the original commenter:
Thankfully, not one of those responses has come from an employee of the Joplin R-8 School District. While I am sure there are a few who are unhappy with the post, I would venture that most of them are happy that it is been put into print, though not about the information revealed about the district's salary structure.
It is one thing when I write about the district's communications (public relations) director making $63,000 after receiving a $15,000 pay increase this year. It is another when you see the name of a teacher who has been in he district more than 15 years and is making nearly $25,000 less than this person.
Or how about when you notice that the district is paying two superintendents more than $350,000 this year.?
Or the executive directors, and other highly paid officials who are not in the classroom, many of whom have been written about on this blog in the past because they are not qualified for the positions they hold. We have seen these people stumble their way through one televised board meeting after another, trying unsuccessfully to explain just exactly what it is they do. With this list, we can see how much more money these people are siphoning off the public till, thanks to our previous superintendent.
Or check the names of teachers on the list who are at the very bottom of the pay scale. That gives us an idea of just how many inexperienced teachers are in the school district since the Huff/Besendorfer regime led more than 50 percent of the teachers to leave, on their own or unwillingly.
We also can get an idea of how much teachers receive for extra duties.
The printing of the list has also turned some of the R-8 employees who read the Turner Report into investigators and they have helped me see things that I missed while posting the list. I have already learned of at least one hefty stipend that C. J. Huff made sure a favored high school teacher received in order to keep that teacher from leaving the district.
I am sure it sounds callous of me to say this- but I never gave a second thought about printing the list once I received it. When I was teaching, I had no problem with anyone knowing how much money I made. I was working for the government; the people had every right to know how much I was making. I did not even think about the possibility that someone would be upset with this information being posted.
I was amused by the Facebook response from the woman who thought it should not be put on Facebook or on a blog because though it is public record, people should have to "dig and pester" to get the information.
That is exactly what people should not have to do. Public information is public information. Perhaps if I or someone else had published this type of information annually, voters would have been made aware of the top-heavy bureaucratic monster that was created in Joplin- a monster that has damaged the teachers, students, and taxpayers of this district.
It is ridiculous for people to get upset about the Turner Report posting this list.
If anything, you should be mad because I didn't do it years ago.