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Sunday, April 15, 2012

My 4/15/12 email to the CCS Board regarding Dr. Rock's 4/12/12 eblast message about the 5/8/12 bond vote

From: Dawn Schaller
To: Steve Hyers, Cheryl McGinnis, Elizabeth Egan, Barry Bomier, Joan Patterson, Susan Boatman, Rosalie Lieblang,
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2012 5:06:39 PM
Subject: Dr. Rock's 4/12/12 eblast comments and my comments

CCS school board members,

Please take a look below for my comments next to Dr. Rock's comments from his 4/12/12 eblast (see details below).   

As board members, you may wish to monitor Dr. Rock's public comments to ensure that they are factual before they are published.  It appears he is playing fast and loose with the facts.

Here's an article about schools that have jumped on the technology bandwagon with mixed results:  

See the attached Word document on other school district's experiences in integrating technology in schools.  I believe that Dr. Rock has actually utilized this article to try to counter criticism of his plans, but he still just uses rhetoric and apparently believes that "if he can't dazzle them with brilliance, he should baffle them with bullshit".  It is available here: 

Dr. Rock says he wants students to learn and use critical thinking, but apparently he doesn't want to hear about it if it contradicts his beliefs or desires for the school system.  There is research and "critical thinking" that went into research on the dangers of long term exposure to low level electromagnetic radiation (Wi-Fi masts and antennas, wireless devices, cell phones, wireless phones, microwave ovens, and wireless electric meters that are installed in this area).     

Dr. Rock's presentations, eblasts, and articles in the Clarkston News still do not address the health dangers of Wi-Fi for the students (his chosen industry sponsored studies that claim no proof of damage do not prove that Wi-Fi is safe in schools).  Dr. Rock should use his "critical thinking skills" with regard to this... In May of 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared wireless radiation a "class 2B carcinogen".  Other WHO classified "Class 2B carcinogens" include lead, methylmercury compounds, DDT, diesel fuel, gasoline exhaust, and hundreds of other dangerous chemicals, compounds, or fumes.   Many people will not develop symptoms when exposed to EMF, but they may well develop cancer or other diseases in ten or more years. Here are a few additional places to look for information on the dangers of Wi-Fi and pulsed electromagnetic radiation:

The CCS school district asks for parental/guardian informed consent for their children to go on a field trip, but should the district implement wireless communication devices and install Wi-Fi antennas/masts in the schools, they will be subjecting the children to long-term low-level exposure to microwave radiation and will most likely not ask for consent.  Is that right, or legal?  How about the estimated 3% of the population that is believed to be sensitive to EMF?  Shall the district tell those affected students that they don't matter and they are not entitled to FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education)?

Here are quotes that fit the issue of health dangers of Wi-Fi (especially the first one):

Facts don’t cease to exist just because they are ignored.” –Aldous Huxley
All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
–- Arthur Schopenhauer
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.   Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  –Margaret Mead

Please see below.

This email was received April 12th and sent as an "eblast" to the CCS public:

CCS-Clarkston Community Schools

Friends of CCS:

Please follow this link to an updated Frequently Asked Questions document related to the May 8 Bond Election.

Thank you,
Rod Rock, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools


Take a look at the link and see if you are as concerned about Dr. Rock's rhetoric from his 4/12/12 "thoughts" as I was.

I pulled out some of Dr. Rock’s comments that I was concerned about.  Dr. Rock's comments are in black.  My comments follow and are bolded and red.

Dr. Rock said, “Upon the passage of the May 8 bond election, the district will over eight years receive $20 million to update technology and capital needs over a 15 year period.  A person who owns a $200,000 home will see an annual increase in property taxes of $100 through the year 2029.  Between 2012 and 2029, it is projected that property values will increase by 16%.  This means that in 2029, a person who lived in a $200,000 home in 2012 will have a home value of $232,000.  This person will have spent over that same time period an additional $1,700 in property taxes toward improving and updating the school district.”  Dr. Rock’s fuzzy math is at work here.  His math assumes that the bond millage on a home currently valued at $200,000 would result in a property tax increase of $100.00 per year for 17 years.  If he had tapped into a CCS 8th grade math class or a financial calculator, he would be able to calculate the actual future value and cost of the 1 mill tax over that time period assuming a 16% increase in value of the home.  The millage amount would actually go up each year as the taxable property value goes up.  However, there is no way that the property values will just go up by 16% between 2012 and 2029.  My supposed property value went up 18.5% this year alone!  Therefore, his taxable value estimate and one mill increase calculations are both inaccurate.  What else has he quoted that is inaccurate?  Well, in this vein, that if the property values go up by more than his extremely conservative 1% per year, that he will borrow more than the two $5 million amounts at the second and third bond payouts rather than lower the millage amounts to the taxpayers resulting in the final bond borrowing being MORE than $20 million.  Contrary to the quotes he put out and board member, Steve Hyer, touted at a board meeting, about the “.79” millage bond rate, the district WILL charge the full one mill per year and the supposed “$20 million bond” will end up being far larger than $20 million because they will borrow more at the second and third bond payouts!           

Dr. Rock also said, “as the school district receives $20 million over eight years and expends it over 15 years, it will use this money to update technology and facilities.  In the process, the district will avoid spending from its per-pupil funding allowance (e.g., money from the School Aid Fund) provided by the State $20 million in essential technology and capital improvements.  The money the district saves or avoids spending on these essential needs will go right back into academic programs, athletics, the arts, technology support, and reduced class sizes.  Alternatively, it would be devastating for the district to have to find $1.3 million each year for the next fifteen years from its per-pupil funding allowance to meet these needs.”  This says that Dr. Rock intends to implement the wireless device technology plan, whether or not the bond passes because he WILL take the money out of the general operating fund to pay for it if the bond does not pass.  Also, Matt McCarty, the district IT Director, said at a recent board meeting that there is no way that the $11.7 million earmarked for technology will cover all that Dr. Rock is claiming to be implementing.  Therefore, the district will either come back for more bond requests to fund the additional IT purchases, or they will pull the funding from the general fund - taking money away from “academic programs, athletics, the arts, and reduced class sizes”…  By then, I believe that Dr. Rock hopes to be long gone – off to a position at one of the following:
1.      a job in sales - peddling Apple products for Apple to other school districts,
2.      a job in sales – peddling Wi-Fi equipment for Cisco Systems or some other technology company to other school districts,
3.      a job at “Learning Forward”, trying to get school systems and/or teachers to use their teacher training classes to train the teachers to use technology in the classrooms,
4.   a job lobbying for for an organization pushing technology in schools,
                  5.      as a superintendent in a larger school system that pays better than Clarkston, or
6.      as a tenured professor (and later dean) at a teaching school in a university (I’m guessing Harvard is his school of choice).
Unfortunately for Dr. Rock, he must prove his effectiveness first.  I think that he has yet to do that.  He can’t claim success by just saying that the students in pilot classrooms that have had “fun” and “like school more” since using technology in the classrooms.  That does not prove that the technology addition is helping students learn any more effectively than the students without the devices, nor that the cost of the devices is cost effective.  Dr. Rock has said in board meetings that the technology probably will not improve test scores.  Really?!?!  So will we judge the effectiveness of the technology based on how ‘happy’ the students are, or how well they know how to utilize apps on the iPad?      

Dr. Rock also said, “Beyond these specific investment gains, one study suggests that for every $1 a local community invests in its schools it receives $20 in return.  On a $20 million investment over 18 years, this is a return of $400,000,000.  This is the essence of local control, local investment, and local return on investment.”  What study could Dr. Rock be quoting here?  This is more of Dr. Rock’s fuzzy math.  There is no legitimate study that shows that for every dollar invested in it’s schools, a local community would receive $20.00 in return.  He cannot claim that with this bond that there will be much of any benefit to the “local” area as a return on investment from the IT purchases, nor any return to the State of Michigan.  The most he could claim is a benefit to the stockholders of Apple and probably Cisco Systems (both California companies) because almost all of the technology to be purchased will most likely be coming from Apple (iPads manufactured in Chengdu, China) and probably Cisco Systems (Wi-Fi products manufactured all over the world - very little in the US, and what little there is, is in California), neither of which is "local".

Dr. Rock continues to say, “there is something in the 2012 bond for everyone.  Excellent schools are good for all kids.  Excellent schools are good for parents.  Excellent schools are good for local businesses.  Excellent schools are good for local property owners.  Excellent schools are good for grandparents and neighbors.  As property owners, school board members, parents, staff, and school officials, we don’t get to decide how much of our $.02 in sales tax, six property mills, or 18 non-homestead mills the State of Michigan provides CCS for the daily operations of our school district.  However as local residents, you get to decide the amount of funding that the local community invests in its school district’s assets, and you get to experience a direct and significant return on your investment.  Yes, excellent schools are good for all of those groups, but that is just rhetoric.  Dr. Rock has done nothing to prove that his plan to tax the community $20 million plus interest to bring wireless devices to all of the students will actually create “excellent schools”.  Dr. Rock says the state decides how much the district receives per student from the 1/3 of the state’s sales tax, 6 mills charged to homestead property owners, and 18 mills charged to non-homestead property owners and that is true, but once the school district gets its per-pupil allotment from the state, it’s Dr. Rock that has more input on how the district spends that state allotment, not “we” as local residents.  I have found in the past that Dr. Rock listens to few, acts on little brought to him, and he is not "local".
Dr. Rock then finally says, “please vote on May 8”.   My answer is "Yes, please do vote, and please Vote “NO”."  There was little planning in regard to this bond request.  Let the district do their homework first and THEN come back with a legitimate plan.  Once they have a project plan, pricing, and legitimate data to back up their claims (the 4/9/12 board meeting presentation does not qualify as a project plan), THEN the public could be asked to support a bond for items supported by data.  What Dr. Rock is saying is not reason enough to support this bond and unfortunately, that is about as much as the school district has given the public.  Please give Dr. Rock a vote of no-confidence. 

Thank you.

Dawn Schaller

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