Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bond Issue, MAP Mayhem at Springfield R-12

Sunday Thread

The Sunday News-Leader editorial page is awash with education issues today - school board endorsement, bond issue debate and numerous letters to the editor endorsing school board candidates.

Their own editorial had this curious heading:

"Our picks a tool to help in choice". At first, I thought they were describing school board candidates - well, there is Roy Holand - but they were just telling us that we didn't have to vote for their recommendations. Gee, thanks for the heads up.

Holand, the former ultra-conservative state legislator, says all the right things during interviews but strongly supports school vouchers and the further blurring of the line separating church and state. Put this guy on the school board, and we'll very likely be arguing intelligent design this time next year. He didn’t get much attention from the N-L. I guess the fact that Holand has kept these views on the down-low is encouraging - perhaps a recognition that they are not held by the majority, even in Springfield.

The SNEA supports two of the News-Leader’s favorites, Craig Hosmer and Gerry Ellis, but the N-L endorses Callen, while the local teacher group is strongly supporting long-time board member Bruce Renner, the only candidate or board member with classroom teaching experience.

The Pro-Con editorial argument centered around the school bond issue (Proposition B) that R-12 has pushed as "Building a Legacy". That should probably read "Building uh Buildings", particularly in south Springfield, the fastest growing part of the city. Volunteer mom, Lisa Langley, took the "Pro" side and spoke of the over-crowding at south-side schools and the need for updated science labs and air conditioning in the buildings.

"Academically, Springfield teachers and students have proven themselves," Langley said. "The district continues to shine, being recognized as an outstanding district at the state level."

How R-12 has handled money in the past has become an issue with many voters.

Steve Hoots writes in his "Con" Proposition B column, that the school system has not coped well with changing demographics (the system is actually losing student annually) and has misspent millions on over-budget building projects that were poorly planned.

My neighbor, who I suspect is voting against the bond issue, put it this way.

"You get the impression these board members drive around in their Escalades looking at the wonderful new schools in Nixa and Ozark, and they want their schools to look like that, a ‘keep up with the Jones’ kind of thing."

He may have a point there, but I’ll tell you what bugs the hell out of me about this bond issue. A group of teachers asked this question to one of the zone superintendents a few weeks ago . . .

"Given the fact that the school board decided to roll back the recent tax levy - explaining they didn’t actually need it all at this time - on the heels of that, you turn around and ask for a bond increase. Don’t you think this is confusing to the voter?"

The R-12 assistant superintendent politely explained that the tax levy rollback only dealt with things like teacher salaries and classroom materials. The bond issue went toward building and improving facilities. I get it. Teacher salaries and instructional material - we can put those kinds of things on the back burner.

But who is going to occupy these proposed new classrooms? I guess we can expect a roll-out of the roll-back?

Fact: Missouri ranks 45th in teacher salaries, and Springfield teachers are at the low end of the state. That would make Springfield R-12 teachers among the lowest paid teachers in the United States. Ms. Langley is right - Springfield teachers and students are out-performing the support they are given by the state and community.

MAP Testing Frenzy hits area schools. Some schools are able to put all this MAP hype in the proper perspective, but many schools are fully immersed in all things MAP leading up to the 2-3 week testing period - after school study sessions with candy rewards, complete schedule changes, test administration meetings (how to give a standardized test), warnings of violations and possible inspection by MAP police. It's MAP Mayhem!

A girl in my class said it all made her very nervous. But the most anxious individuals involved in this exercise in standardized accountability are the building principals . . . from whom it trickles down to teachers and students. No principal relishes the opportunity to stand before the school board in order to explain the how's and why's of their school's miserable test scores.

More MAP Mayhem later . . .
Rountree Quiet

There are all kinds of stories circulating around the alleged Rountree sexual molestation incident. My daughter went to Rountree K-5, and I know there are some very activist parents in that particular district. Rountree district borders the east side of Missouri State University, and probably has a higher percentage of involved parents than many Springfield schools, especially of the inner-city variety. Our own experience was very positive - excellent teachers, a very nice neighborhood school.

I haven't found any reports in the N-L or on local news about the fate of the teacher who was arrested, released and never charged with several counts of 1st degree child molestation. Dee Wampler is representing him, which doesn't bode well. Someone who knows the teacher's family was told that he was totally devastated and on suicide watch. Total hearsay, but sounds reasonable, given the nature of the non-charges.

More unsubstantiated stuff that may emerge . . . the incident at Rountree is being handled with kid gloves because many of the charges and accusations appear to have racial undertones. The teacher in question is white. If this were strictly sexual, the prosecutor and the accused would have been on camera a long time ago - and the local media would have been all over it.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that this alleged molestation incident runs much deeper than accusations about a perv PE teacher. Then again, it may just fade away to nothing . . . like the suspect's teaching career.


RSmith said...

That should read Andy Hosmer, Craig's brother. I get their names mixed up all the time. He won.

design girl said...

I need to verify this story, but I heard there was a public meeting about the PE teacher at Roundtree. An off-duty police officer said the PE teacher is guilty because the prosecuter wouldn't press charges if he wasn't. It looked bad, because here is an officer of the law saying the guy was guilty. Then a seventy-year-old woman stood up and schooled him on due process, and apparently turned it all around, which really embarrassed and angered the cop.

Two days later, the police came to this lady's home, took her in to custody, and brought her up on charges. Apparently the man who lived in her home before her was wanted for bad checks or something. Having never met him, she forwarded all the mail that came in his name. They accused her of being this man, and using this name as a pseudonym.

She was in custody for 8 hours before bail was posted. In that time, she was stripped, bathed and given her uniform. A friend came with bail money soon as she could, but even after the bail was given, it took an additional 3.5 hours to get her out. The name on the arrest warrant was not her name, it is the "alias" they claimed she was using.

She is not sure if it was the dressing down of the cop, or if maybe it was the big "Impeach Bush" sign she was holding when Cheney came to town, but surely this is no accidental abuse of police power.

The Words of a Prophet 2019 A.D.

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