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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dr. Rock's "Call to Action 1" with my comments...

Here is Dr. Rock's "call to action" by the superintendent printed in the Clarkston News this week with my comments inserted in red and bold:

"Words from the Sup't

Superintendent's call to action

May 11, 2011 - I did everything that was requested of me, and so did fellow Michigan citizens.

The majority of our elected officials did not hear our voices and instead chose to unnecessarily reduce K-12 educational funding, which will negatively affect our schools, our children, and their teachers.

I'm angry with and disappointed in those elected officials who chose to vote this way. It's left me wondering about the longterm agenda of these elected officials. Is this the beginning of the end of public education as we know it? No! Not on my watch.

As the superintendent of the Clarkston Community Schools, I am not just the supervisor of employees, I am the "lead teacher and lead learner," a steward of the learning process as a whole, and an advocate for children and their learning. It is my responsibility—to the community, teachers, district employees, administrators, parents, and students—to ensure an excellent education for every child.

Further, I serve all children in Michigan, regardless of the district in which they reside. I fully intend to fulfill my responsibility, especially now when many of our elected officials have seemingly abandoned us.


In response, I simply choose to say, "No. I will not idly accept this devaluing of public education.

I'm going to act instead in accordance with my values." And, I believe that we must act collectively. Instead of 500+ school districts individually cutting budgets and multiple agencies singularly developing and acting upon agendas, let's act as one voice for our children.

Should you choose to join me, perhaps we could brand our collective cause, EducatioNO!: We're Not Going to Take It. (Is he serious with the name of "EducatioNO!: We're Not Going to Take It"?  What self respecting public school superintendent would actually come up with such a name as "EducatioNO!"What happened?  Were the names, "We Won't Accept a Funding Cut Although the State is Broke", "We're Selfish, Others Can Take the Cuts", "Let the Prisoners Eat Rocks", "Those Guys in Lansing Are a Bunch of Idiots", "Our Teachers and Administrators Deserve to Be on the Over $100k Pay List on the District Transparency Report", and "School Sucks!" all taken? 

Here are my values:

Locally controlled schools; excellent teachers; engaged, globally connected students; and collaborative communities & parents.  (The communities and parents can be as "collaborative" as they want to be (or think they are), but it doesn't mean the superintendent is going to listen to, consider, or act on any of of their input.  I believe that Dr. Rock had his own idea of what "his" school district was going to be long before he even became a superintendent in Clarkston and he is trying to push his ideas through, no matter what WE want.  Dr. Rock never asked the community or the parents what they thought about or how they felt about "Schools of Choice" (SOC)...  He just put a School of Choice action item (to be voted on) on the 5/9/11 school board agenda.  Although, I must say, that by meeting time, the district had changed it to a discussion item and pared down the program options to two programs.  Here are the other ideas he has already put forward, some relating to what I believe the superintendent of a local school system should be concerned with, many are not, and others are just puzzling, but they are a bit unrealistic given the financial state of our community (decreasing property values) and the state:
  1. Sharing services between the townships, Village of Clarkston, and CCS 
  2. A recreation bond (in partnership between the townships and CCS) (Recreation belongs with the townships...  Dr. Rock, you are running a school district, not a "Second Life" account as a megalomaniac.)
  3. Shared purchasing 
  4. An ice rink  (Really?  An ice rink?  Is he serious?)
  5. A community center  (Nice, but is this the business of the school district?)
  6. The Clarkston Commitment (partnership with OCC, OU, Flint U of M, Baker, Mott)
  7. Sharing teachers with private and parochial schools
  8. Sharing services with other school districts
  9. Opening up an international school with students from other countries (Really?  Is he serious?  We can approve a bond to create a boarding school to educate kids from other countries?  We need to focus on OUR kids.  Please!!)
  10. Internships in partnership with Oakland University's School of Business
  11. Opening an Arts and Sciences Academy  (Will this require another bond?)
  12. Opening a Montessori School  (Will this require another bond?)
  13. Universal preschool  (We can't afford what we have for K-12 and he wants preschool provided free of charge?  This is the same man who just cut aide support in the kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms! )
  14. Opening CCS in other states or countries (What?!?!?!  Does he plan on franchising his program and thinks someone would pay for his "plan", or does he plan on Clarkston Schools becoming a huge multinational conglomerate?  )     
What do you value?

Here are some points, representing a possible platform for EducatioNO!:

1. Every child deserves and shall receive an exceptional education with an excellent teacher, every minute of every day of every year.

2. Improving schools is not the function of government. Governments do not improve schools.

3. The governor, state representatives, state senators, and the Michigan Department of Education are not knowledge authorities on education.  (Does this mean that Dr. Rock believes he is the "knowledge authority on education" over the Michigan Department of Education?  The governor and state representatives and senators are involved by being responsible for the finance end of education.  They also have to balance the state's budget.  However, I don't believe I ever saw any of the politicians come out and say they were "knowledge authorities on education".)  

4. Education is not political. Education is fundamental.

5. Local communities must control their school systems.  (You can take this two ways.  I think Dr. Rock interprets this as control of anything in the school district must come from him, rather than Lansing.  The second way this could be interpreted is that local community members should have input into/control what happens in their school districts, but I don't see this happening in CCS currently.  The communities vote in their school board members who are supposed to vote the "will of the people" to direct the superintendent on school issues.  I see the "will of the people" coming out in comments and votes by three of the school board members (Mrs. Boatman, Mrs. Lieblang, and Mrs. Patterson), but they need a majority (4 of 7) to make policy.  They are overruled time and again by the four board members (Mr. Hyer, Mr. Bomier, Mrs. McGinnis, and Mrs. Egan) who always vote the "will of the superintendent".   It does not appear that those four board members are looking out for the "will of the people" in the local community.)  

6. The government needs to get out of the education business. Instead, the government needs to act to make an excellent education a fundamental right of every child.

7. Excellent schools require consistent funding. Local schools require options for raising revenues.

8. Research and practice have informed us, and will continue to do so, as to the elements of an excellent education. Technology is one of the quintessential tools in this pursuit. We must use research and practice to inform our work, constantly.

9. Local school districts must work together, with other entities to increase efficiency, decrease redundancy, and improve effectiveness.

10. One size does not fit all—children, families, teachers, schools, communities, people, alligators, onions, fruit trees, fingernails, political parties, transmissions. Schools require different options, depending on their needs.  (What IS this?!?!?  Alligators?  Onions?  Fruit trees?  Fingernails?  Political parties?  Transmissions?  What does this have to do with the school funding or education?)

As I travel across our school district observing kids, listening to teachers and other district employees, and conversing with parents and community members, I feel as though I have let them down. I asked them to remain hopeful. I promised that we would figure things out, no matter how bad they get. Our people work very hard; doing whatever they have to in service of each child.

Our educators, parents, and citizens were hopeful their elected officials would notice and support them. When I told the teachers of the House's vote to cut funding, I could see the hurt in their eyes.

Not one of them said, "What about me? I need more money. I need my retirement. I need my health care."  (Outside of the board meeting on 5/9/11, I asked a teacher if she knew about the proposal for school of choice in CCS.  She said she did and that she felt it was necessary to balance the district's budget.   I responded that if the teachers had taken even a minor pay cut, it would not be necessary.  She told me the teachers took a pay freeze for next year.  I responded that I knew that, and that was nice, but that it was not enough - that the rest of the workers in Michigan were taking (or had already taken) pay cuts and massive increases in medical contributions and it was now the teachers' turn.  The bus drivers and custodians took massive pay cuts already.  She responded that, working in the public sector, when times were good, public sector workers got huge raises and bonuses...  I responded that for an owner or officer of a company, I would suppose that would probably be true, but not for most of the people below them...  I am not sure what kind of brainwashing the teacher's union utilizes, but it apparently works well on the teachers.  Keep drinking that Teacher Kool-Aid!)
 
Just as I would expect of people who love kids, they said, "What about my kids? What about our colleagues?"

You see, schooling is local. It's people. It's relationships. It's first, middle, and last names. It's personalities. It's laughter. It's school spirit. It's hope. It's service. It's collective and collaborative. It's fundamental.

So, I'm standing up. Who is with me?  (I'm picturing John Belushi in Animal House!)  Please send me a note to let me know what you think.

I will have more to say next week.

Rod Rock, Ed.D.

Superintendent"

4 comments:

  1. While your efforts to involve yourself and your opinions in the community are admirable, keep in mind that most well-rounded and educated adults don't tend to enjoy being chastised and bullied as they seem to be on your blog.

    If you want people to listen to you and you want to encourage a healthy discourse, perhaps you should consider leaving out the condescending remarks and comments. All you have to do is present facts. Granted, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when your goal is persuading a majority to take you seriously, a more professional attitude and tone would help.

    As it stands now, you sound like an angry and complaining crazy lady.

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  2. Interesting... I am angry & complaining, but I am saying what I am saying in order to get the word out. I am not crazy. I have evidence of wrongdoing in the district & am following up on it. I have asked legitimate questions & have been ignored.

    Three board members look out for the well being of the district (Boatman, Lieblang, & Patterson). I support what they stand for and are attempting to do. The other four board members (Hyer, Bomier, Egan, & McGinnis) vote in favor of anything Dr. Rock or Mr. Hyer put in front of them. As long as four Board members rubber stamp the superintendent's requests, they will continue to do whatever they want & the three voices of reason will be stifled.

    I DO chastise certain Board members & the superintendent. I believe their performances have earned it. I am not “bullying” the board members or the superintendent. "They" are the bullies. I am trying to bring their actions out for the public to see to get and get this behavior to stop.

    The district tapes the board meetings & started showing them on the local access channel on Comcast, but the district is not posting the meetings any longer. I suspect they don’t want anyone to see that they are being criticized & because they don’t want anyone to see how they are handling the district’s business.

    If more residents attended board meetings, they might see what is going on in the district also. The following would help make the district’s activities more “transparent” & less disingenuous:
    1. Put the recorded board meetings on Comcast's public access channels,
    2. Post the board packet information on the district’s website,
    3. Set up the board packets so they could be received via an acceptable email size limit (under 10MB) to prevent delaying delivery to the people who have requested the board packets,
    4. During board meetings, post board packet info on the large screen behind the board using the projector system so the meeting attendees could see what was actually being voted on vs. what was presented during meetings. There have been many times that they stated one thing in a presentation, yet the resolution the board voted on did not match the presentations.

    There are many people who have written letters to the editor printed in the Clarkston News who were critical of the superintendent. Most have decided to do that because they received an unacceptable response from the district. Check back copies of the Clarkston News for letters to the editor. Here is a guest viewpoint article from last week's Clarkston News: http://www.lakeorionreview.com/Articles-i-2011-06-29-242309.113121-sub14473.113121-Guest-viewpoint.html Here is another letter to the editor from last week's Clarkston news: http://www.lakeorionreview.com/Articles-i-2011-06-29-242300.113121-sub14473.113121-Letter-to-the-editor.html

    Dr. Rock should be listening to us, but he isn't. Many have emailed or called Dr. Rock to express their concerns. Many parents are afraid to speak out for fear that their children will be retaliated against and will pay the price for their parent's activism when it comes to being selected for programs, sports teams, etc. Employees are afraid they will be targeted for being demoted or fired.

    Is that any way for a school district to be run?

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  3. Dear Mrs. Shaller,

    Your efforts to "take down" the district is something that I cannot understand. Clarkston Community Schools has an excellent reputation and I do not appreciate you trying to smear the school district where my children attend. CCS has provided an excellent education for all three of my children and each of them loved going to school every day. It sounds like you have bigger problems that you need to be worried about. Do you have a job? Or is taking down CCS your main priority? I would have to agree with the the other post...you do sound like a crazy lady who has WAYYYYY too much time on your hands. Maybe you should worry about what the State is doing to our public education instead of trying to bully our fine administration who has done an outstanding job serving our students. It's people like you who give public education a bad name! Shame on you!

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  4. Mr. or Ms. Anonymous,

    Please don't address me as "Dear" if you intend to smear me personally. It's more than a bit disingenuous. Also, my last name is "Schaller", not "Shaller".

    Now, to the content of your comments - I am neither trying to "take down" nor "smear" the district.

    My intent is to get the superintendent to manage the day to day operations of the district as if he lived here and had his kids in the school system, to follow direction from the board, to manage school funds prudently, to follow policy, etc.

    I want to see the board setting direction and managing the superintendent (and not allowing Dr. Rock to manage THEM), to make decisions as if they still had kids in the school system, to make prudent financial decisions, to follow direction from the public, and to follow policy, etc.

    I see you used the anonymous feature to post your rude comment. I'm sure you would not have the guts to say what you said with your name attached to it... I come to all of the board meetings (one of a very small handful of residents who attend the meetings). If you would like to meet me to discuss some of the things going on in the district that the public would be upset to hear about, then come to a meeting and I would be happy to talk to you about it.

    However, based on your comments, I would be surprised if you were not actually Dr. Rock, one of the "four" board members, a teacher being pressured by management to leave this comment, or a family member of one of the above.

    I bought property and built a house in Independence Twp to a large extent because of the school system... I like and respect the staff, the schools themselves, and the kids.

    My beef is not with the school district or the staff. My beef is with the superintendent and the four school board members who accommodate Dr. Rock on any and all demands he puts forward to the board - no matter what the public wants and no matter how it may harm our students or the district.

    I won't insult you for being uninformed/misinformed even though you insulted me for trying to let people know what it is going on in the district. I just hope you will open your eyes to see what is really going on and take a stand to say you're not going to stand for it either.

    ReplyDelete