It must be a delayed reaction to the Joplin Tornado.
I haven't heard how Joplin R-8 Administration is spinning the departure of more than 100 teachers from the school district, but that news, which was mentioned in the Turner Report more than two weeks ago, apparently has been confirmed to the business community, though probably not as a serious problem.
It was announced on KSN's Living Well program this afternoon that Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce is looking for 125 gift packets to present to new Joplin teachers during the annual week-long TOPS program next month. The TOPS program, which is held annually, is designed to introduce teachers to the district. In the past, many of the teachers who have gone through the program had already had experience teaching at other schools. Some of the packets are reportedly for new teachers at the private schools, but more than 100 are directed toward the R-8 School District.
Reportedly, the majority of this year's freshman teaching class will be in the classrooms for the first time.
It is clear that the 100 mentioned in my earlier post may not be anywhere near the final toll and sources have told me that there are still other teachers who are trying their hardest to leave the school district.
I do not have totals on how many of these teachers have been asked to leave and how many have taken off on their own volition. As I noted in the earlier post:
Sources have told The Turner Report that the situation has reached a point where administrators are having to hire nearly anyone who applies, regardless of qualifications, because most teachers who were seeking employment have already found it, or because many qualified teachers are steering clear of the Joplin R-8 School District.
A member of an area board of education told The Turner Report his school had thought it was going to lose an excellent teacher who had applied to the Joplin District and had been offered a contract. The teacher lives in Joplin and had been driving a considerable distance to the rural school where she was teaching. The board member said the teacher declined the contract offer because of what she had been told about the working conditions in the school district.
The loss of so many experienced teachers, many of whom (including me) were sent packing by Administration, comes at a particularly bad time for the district, which reportedly barely escaped losing accreditation this year. An administrator with access to the documentation told the Turner Report that upper administration was panicking earlier this year when preliminary information showed the district falling short in several areas, including test scores.
An administrator with close ties in the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said that Joplin officials began an all-out blitz to hold on to its accreditation, using every means at its disposal, including playing the tornado card.
As reported earlier, more than 20 teachers left Joplin High School, including at least eight math instructors, while nearly the entire faculty at McKinley Elementary will be new when classes begin next month. Other schools have also been hit hard.
The mention today of the situation, even though it was not treated as the serious problem it is for Joplin students, parents, and all taxpayers, is the first time the mass exit of teachers (and this does not include the large number who left after the 2011-2012 school year) has been mentioned in any media other than the Turner Report.