Monday, December 07, 2015

I answered the Joplin R-8 survey and I'm a bit disappointed

I received the call about an hour ago.

A woman told me she was conducting a survey for the Joplin school district and asked me if he would answer a few questions.

I had been waiting for someone to ask me a few questions about the school district for the past two and a half years. For most of that time, I was hoping it would be someone from the FBI or the U. S. Attorney's office, but you take what you can get.

This survey is designed to provide a portion of the data that Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder will use when he and the R-8 Board of Education begin the process of creating a strategic plan for the school district.

I was asked a series of questions where I rated different parts of the school district. On most of these, I gave the district grades of C and D. There was one F. I don't know how much good this survey will do since I would have loved to have had an opportunity to explain why I gave the district these grades.

The grades would have been lower if C. J. Huff was still in charge. They were still low because at this point, the district is still being controlled by the team that Huff put together, including a large number of the principals and assistant principals who worked their way up the ladder through the misnamed teaching/learning coach program.

There were two questions where I was allowed to provide more information.

I can't remember the exact question, but I was asked to name the best thing about the school district. I did not hesitate in responding, "The teachers. We still have great teachers no matter how much they have had to go through the past few years." Given further time, I might have noted that even that area, which had been the strongest area for the R-8 School District, has been damaged by a self-absorbed superintendent who ran off more than half of the faculty, leaving taxpayers with more than 50 percent of the teachers having five years of experience or less.

Another question, I was asked what could be done to improve the district- "We need to remove all of C. J. Huff's top administration team," I answered, again without hesitation. Until that is done, it is going to be hard to take any changes seriously.

My favorite part of the survey was when the woman asked me where I got my information about the school district and offered me a list of choices, including the district webpage, its Facebook page, its Twitter, the Joplin Globe, TV, and radio. As she took me through the choices, I answered how much information I received from each. I said I received "some" information from the district's Facebook page and website, though none from Twitter. I received a little from TV and radio and said "None" when asked about the Joplin Globe. After I had given that answer, I realized it was probably inaccurate. After all, she had asked me about information, not "accurate information," and I read the Globe.

I had also been asked how much information I received from school employees and I said I received a considerable amount of information from employees and students.

I waited for her to mention the Turner Report, but she never did. She asked me if there were any other sources of information I had and I mentioned the Turner Report. I am sure it was dutifully recorded.

While I appreciated the opportunity to take part in the survey, I am not sure just how much this will accomplish.

I suppose we will know when we see the strategic plan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been assuming, or at least hoping, that this survey is mostly going to be a fig leaf for a thorough house cleaning, something Ridder can wave around to justify big changes like your corespondent desires. One member of Team Huff has already been removed from her duties and is on her way out, so I think we can retain a little hope this will happen.

If not, there's going to be a really big school board election next spring, and Ridder will only be here for a year or two.