By Rylee Hartwell and Laela Zaidi
Special to The Globe
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Joplin School District prides itself on its integrity and support of creative teachers.
Our former eighth-grade communication arts teacher, Randy Turner, was recently placed on administrative leave. Turner is an experienced journalist, is active in social media, published various books, and continues to write for online publications such as The Huffington Post and Daily Kos.
However, Joplin administrators recently went against their own principles that they claim to enforce. Joplin Schools wishes to encourage engaged, creative methods of teaching through “21st-century learning.” Instead of celebrating Randy Turner’s accomplishments, he is being punished for his work outside of the classroom. If Turner is let go, the district will lose one of its most enthusiastic and dedicated teachers.
As former students, we have seen firsthand the benefits of taking one of the only writing intensive classes the district can offer.
Turner allowed open, interactive discussions within the classroom. He taught in an objective manner, but nevertheless, inspired students to express their views without judgment. Those who were lucky enough to attend East Middle School (formerly South Middle School) have continued to express their gratitude for having a teacher who truly cared. In fact, Turner’s class has inspired many students, such as us, to continue writing beyond our middle-school years in online publications, as well as print media. By taking Turner’s class we learned words have the power to make a difference in our community and the importance of activism. This is a lesson that hundreds of students have carried with them long beyond their time at Joplin schools.
If the school district fires Randy Turner it will be turning its backs on its students. By firing Randy Turner, Joplin Schools will contradict its own ideology and lose an inspiring teacher and friend.