DRIVING AWAY PINK ELEPHANTS
I once heard of a man walking down the street waving his arms frantically in the air. Someone stopped and asked him why he did so. He replied that it was to keep the pink elephants away. The questioner stated “I don’t see any pink elephants”. That man replied “See, it works”.
This is a blog to continue to attempt to keep Turner on track, like trying to keep pink elephants away. I also am fully aware that while Turner will never comment herein, nor I will do so now on his blog, I can’t keep a stupid elephant away, right Ben!!
Once again I got my whole blog, sort of on today’s Turner Report. In this one I have been accused of using information fed to me about a year ago concerning Debbie Fort’s performance as a principal in R-8 before she left the teaching profession after 34 years. According to Turner I was once again a mouthpiece for Dr. Huff. Wrong again Turner and others, dead wrong.
I have said it before and do so again. I carry only my own water, no one else’s. What I say or write may displease some and please others but I could give a fat damn either way. I write only to get my views, analysis, opinions into the public arena in an attempt to make a contribution to change things for the better.
OK, there is a second reason that I write as well. It helps keep my mind active, helps me continue to think about complex and important issues and make recommendations to resolve such issues. Contrary to the most recent accusation against me by Fields, I do not suffer from dementia of any sort, still read and think with clarity, use the same types of analysis and problem solving that I used professionally with some degree of success, all of those capabilities remain sound for now at least. Am I still able to run a 7000 employee company handling 57 tons of the most dangerous material known to humans now? Probably not, today. I could not exert the physical effort and stamina needed then and now to do so.
But I remember still quite well the issues I faced then and both the successes and failures that happened as I faced them all the time as well. 2000 very angry union members without a negotiated contract comes to mind as a “problem”, one that we all worked through, got a contract and some union leaders actually thanked me for my “service”.
Again, I carry no man’s water, Rohr, Huff, any politician anywhere. I speak my own mind once I think through an issue and reach a conclusion, even maybe a tentative one. Then I post it under the above 7 or so year title, unchanged, to this public blog, “I’m Not Sure, Are You”.
Let me make this even clearer. I do not have a single person in the system of public education in Joplin (I do have a step daughter who has taught for 30 years in Georgia) that I consider a friend or an enemy as well. I don’t know anyone in public education that well to put them into such categories. But you can bet your bippy I consider some to be good professionals and others, well not so good, professionally only, not in terms of personal characteristics (OK, Ben is different now. I really don’t like Ben or Turner now on any level).
Now let’s get to the nitty gritty of my “investigative reporting” (Ha!!) on Debbie Fort, a little over a year ago when she was running to be on the BOE. As with any new face on the public scene I wanted to know, professionally, who Debbie Fort was or had been, professionally. Unless she was a convicted felon I could have cared less who or what she was or had been personally. Have you stopped beating your husband, Debbie, was not what I was looking for and had someone told me no she has not I would have ignored them.
So once the race, the campaign was on, I tried to find out all the available information on Debbie but only all the professionally related information as well. Guess where I went first to find out about Debbie. Yep, the Turner Report who treated her like a saint. And of course that caught my eye and got my attention for sure. If you run for office and get Turner’s support and that of his crazy supporters, you can bet that such will peak my interests.
So, once I found out that “Saint Debbie” was running, a woman I knew nothing about whatsoever, I started asking around in LOTS of places. I have no idea who Turner’s sources (and don’t care) might be and he has no idea who’s mine are as well, though he did take a shot at guessing in a recent blog about me. Wrong, Turner, again.
So “Who is Debbie Fort? What can you tell me about her?” was a topic I bounced around with lots of people I know that are interested in public education in Joplin. I also got some answers or actually opinions from a variety of people as well. Not a single one, other than the Turner Report told me she was St. Debbie. But no one told me she was a ……. In any way as well. Several people, not just one person, however suggested I look into problems available in the public record about the 10 year performance record of that school while Debbie was the principal. And yep I did just that.
Turner has now resurrected that over a year old blog of mine showing the results of my own research about the performance of Irving Elementary during Debbie’s last three years as a principal therein. As far as I know what I wrote then remains factually true today. The academic record at Irving and based mostly on MAPS test results was very low in comparison to other Joplin elementary schools for a long period of time.
Turner does not try to dispute that record it seems. He just says that I only wrote it to support Huff, for crying out loud. He also gleefully notes that my blog made no difference in election results which it did not. But the matter was at least there in the public record to consider before the election but mobs never do that, think about or read opposing views.
But let me ask any readers, other than the stupid one, would the factual professional performance of a 34 year veteran public educator be important to you if that former educator was up for an influential position related to public education? Note I do not attack her check book, recreational activities, sexual interests (Turner probably loves that one so he can write better books), etc. Was she a good principal and really resolved some fundamental problems in public education seems pertinent for political discussion it seems to me?
As well, what Turner does not report and never will is my efforts to speak with people during BOE election campaigns. I spent about two hours with Debbie during her run for office and we had an open and frank discussion, a good and open and frank discussion I would say. I have not hidden anything I know about Debbie, from Debbie. My guess is when I challenge her views in a blog, which I rarely do now, she already knows it is coming, or should know at least because she received a “why did you do or say THAT”, kind of email from me beforehand.
Do some people in public education tell me stuff to achieve some of their own agendas? Of course they do so, many of them. No they are not friends or enemies either. They are just people in public education with their particular pet peeves or agendas and some of them talk to me about them. Rarely do I use such information in my public writing efforts however. You see I am NOT an investigative reporter, not at all.
I consider important (to me) public matters, read about them, think about them, talk to people about them and sometimes then write about them, the issues, not the people, most of the time at least.
So once again I write for myself and readers. I am not the mouthpiece for Dr. Huff and I do not like or dislike him, love him or hate him or have any personal relationship with him in any way, period. But I have talked with him a lot over about now 6 years about important (to me and Dr. Huff) issues related to generic public education, not Joplin specific public education.
Having held such conversations on an issue about which I care a lot, I have found that he knows how to do many things to improve public education, MANY things if you will. In fact Dr. C J Huff knows more about the fundamental and underlying problems in our system of public education than anyone I have ever met, period. EXCEPT, I would add Admiral Hyman Rickover to that list even though he has been dead for about 30 years now!!! Truth never fades with age.
None of the mob and probably Turner as well have any idea the Rickover ideas about education. You would have to go back and read volumes of Congressional testimony from 50 years ago to get an inkling of Rickover’s approach to education. If Turner wants to accuse me of being a mouthpiece for someone he should attack me for supporting Admiral Rickover’s views, not the views of Dr. Huff. Hell’s bells Dr. Huff hardly knew Rickover from Adam until I hit him between the eyes with some famous but old views from Rickover.
Do Dr. Huff and I focus on Turner, or Fort or any individuals in particular when we talk together? Nope we do not. Instead we have long discussed dysfunctions in the system of public education, honestly and with real openness and candor. In my view Dr. Huff knows about what he so speaks, a lot about it and he has given me ideas to consider as well, lots of ideas.
So, if Dr. Huff knows so much about dysfunctions in public education, why does he not show all of us his brilliance and fix them??? Are you kidding me? I know a bunch of dysfunctions in our justice system but fix them all, are you kidding me!!! As I wrote in the last blog, all have to “go fix the mobs” before real changes can happen in complex matters today!!
As Dr. Huff and I began, 6 years ago to “talk, of course discussed, right out of the gate so to speak, were my experiences and observations as a substitute teacher for 10 years. No we did not go into great detail about why I stopped substitute teaching. He already knew about it and it was water long over the dam for me, not worth discussing in any way. But once that minor issue was cleared, we began to address my observations as a substitute teacher. Those were vicious and powerful negative observations of two school systems and he knew it.
But he sat right there and took them, each and every time I raised an observation like “why would any teacher (I NEVER named any names), ever do this or that”. Why do students do ……., all the time” were other observations, anecdotes. Again he sat there and LISTENED to me tell him some really bad news about HIS school system. And he did NOT in any way get defensive or try to discount my observations as one time mistakes that rarely happen.
It did not take very long for me to realize that here was a leader of a big organization ready, really ready, to engage in substantive, private discussion about both real problems and possible solutions. He placed no restrictions whatsoever on what we discussed as well. He allowed me to rack his system over the coals so to speak and he LISTENED.
THEN we began and continue our discussions about real and fundamental solutions. I have no idea how many times I have offered a “Rickover solution” or a “Navy way of doing business” and he did not just rejected them out of hand. Instead he has said things like “how would anyone be able to sell that solution to …..”. And he was invariably correct in trying to face such difficulties, the “politics” of how to get students to behave or teachers to teach, better. Many, many time as well I would agree that I could have done something on a nuclear submarine but could never do so in a public school.
So once again I refute the crazy and vindictive Randy Turner. I do so only to not allow him to continue to grind Dr. Huff into the mud of public disdain using my name. I speak only for myself and my own views and opinions and never do I attempt to praise where I do not consider praise deserved based on professional performance, which I have observed closely all my adult life. As for my associations with Dr. Huff well all of such associations since 2008 have been simply open and honest exchanges of ideas about how to improve public education, almost all of the time.
Have I ever suggested to him how to deal with “that ….. Randy Turner”. Yes I have but not often. And as you can guess my advice falls into the category of politically incorrect (but not illegal either) as well.
There are other good men and women in our local system of public education as well. I have spoken with some from time to time and have great respect for them, professionally again. And I see their names cast in despicable disdain by Turner and his crazy followers. That makes me sick, and yes angry as well.
I am however currently patting myself on my own back. I have yet to rip down all the BS posted herein by Fields and just censor his ass from this blog. I refuse to do because I saw Duane do it a few years ago and screamed about such censorship at that time. I refuse to go back on those comments and am confident that Fields will just get tired of vomiting where the output is ignored. He too will go away just like the white supremacist that I refused to censor a few years ago as well.
Whale shit may float for a while and be smelly. But it always sinks to the bottom of the sea later on and just dissolves in the universal solvent of seawater.