I believe the Joplin School District and its board of education, led by Dr. C.J. Huff, superintendent of schools, have done a superb job to bring all schools back after the disastrous tornado in May 2011.
All of us in Joplin can celebrate that achievement on Oct. 3, when Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will join the community for a ribbon cutting ceremony.
As well, beyond rebuilding, I support how they are currently dealing with other big issues related to public education in Joplin. By and large, they — the board and the administration — have my complete support and I also believe this city is very lucky to have a leader such as Huff at the helm of our schools.
So what? Anson Burlingame likes what is happening in our schools. Some strongly disagree and have been ranting against the current board, administration and Huff directly.
I’m now publicly denouncing those who call for wholesale changes, firing Huff, replacing the board or dramatically changing the way our public schools are being operated.
The purpose of a public school system is to educate all children — from kindergarten through 12th grade — to enable them to become good citizens and to contribute to society. Anyone paying attention to that matter knows much needs to be done nationwide to improve public education.
In Joplin, close to 50 percent of our graduates are not “proficient,” meaning, I assume, they are unable to read, write and do arithmetic to grade-level standards of academic achievement. I believe most members of the board and most school district employees will try their best to improve that situation.
Sure, other matters must be addressed. All schools have financial difficulties, and most teachers are underpaid. Argue all you like, but raising taxes is the only way to really change the lack of financial resources for public schools. Day to day, everyone working in those schools must continue to educate kids to grade-level proficiency in every class, and parents must do all possible to assist the schools in that effort.
Now it is time, since our rebuilding effort has been achieved, to decide publicly whether to support our board, our district and our superintendent.
You know where I stand on that issue. Detractors may fire when ready, to use an old Navy term. If you disagree, then tell me why I’m wrong with a rebuttal letter to The Joplin Globe.
Simply because the underground or semipublic opposition (many of them writing anonymously) to those institutions and to Huff has been so virulent, I call for a vote of confidence by the board in Huff and his administration. Those who oppose him and the administration or who believe Huff should be fired should say that, publicly, by voting no confidence.
Public input in the opinion pages of the Globe should take place before such a vote of confidence as well. You now know my opinion.
Anson Burlingame lives in Joplin.