The State Board of Education has announced their top five finalists for the position of Commissioner of Education, destined to replace Chris Nicastro whose resignation becomes effective December 15th.

  • Terry Adams – Former Wentzville Superintendent  and interim Superintendent of Rockwood School District
  • Douglas Hayter – Branson Superintendent
  • Charles (CJ) Huff – Joplin Superintendent
  • Norman Ridder – former  Springfield Superintendent and interim Superintendent Mehlville School District
  • Deputy Commissioner of Education Margaret Vandeven also is a candidate.

The list primarily represents the old boy’s network of Missouri. There are no candidates from out of state.

Terry Adams just keeps hopping from government job to government job. You may remember his name from just a few months ago when he was appointed by the Governor to the State Lottery Commission which benefits education. That appointment has not been confirmed by the Senate. I assume he will be required to give up that appointment if he is selected as Commissioner of Education.

While in Wentzville Adams was successful in convincing the Board to approve a three year contract for its teachers with pay increases the first year of 3.76% the first year, and 3.74 percent and 3.03 percent,  the following two year years respectively. Those increases, almost 9.5% over three years, were funded out of Wentzville reserves, driving those reserves into the dust. He performed the same magic in Rockwood just a year later giving the administrators there a 2% pay bump. Those raises were also covered by reserves when the district’s bond issue failed. He maintained his $250,000 per year salary at both school districts, even though it was $15K more than outgoing Superintendent Borchers made in Rockwood and this was for a one year interim job.

CJ Huff’s greatest claim to fame is that he got the Joplin schools back up and running after the tornado blew through there a few years ago. This was not nearly the great feat that it has been made out to be, but Huff managed to get on the Washington Speakers Bureau list to go around the country talking about it. There are several news items regarding Huff you should read if you want to know more about this candidate. Pay attention to the reader comments in these articles. These are people who live in Huff’s district. Many feel threatened by Huff and will only post names anonymously.

This one in particular contains correspondence between Huff and the Joplin NEA President who refused to sign off on the district’s RTTT grant application because he/she had been given no time to read it before he/she was expected to certify that everything in it was accurate and acceptable.

Norm Ridder was Superintendent in Springfield MO for nine years. He left that job before the end of his contract with the intent to move to Wyoming  “be with family.” When the Governor of WY did not select him for the job he took the position of interim Superintendent in Melville for one year. His first years in education were spent teaching at Catholic schools in Nebraska, where he was also a curriculum director and coach.

What the public needs to know is that the board has made it clear that whoever gets this job will be expected to support the state’s Top 10×20 plan which contains all the measures proposed in our 2010 Race To The Top Grant application. There will be no relief from the top down control measures currently in place under Nicastro.

I invite others to share what they know of the other two candidates in the comments section.


Published December 9, 2014

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

Facebook Twitter 

Share and Enjoy !

0 0