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Words from the Sup't:Dr. Rod Rock


Schools, community succeed in evolving world



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July 06, 2011 - I am blessed to have completed my first year as the superintendent of the Clarkston Community Schools.

I believe that, in this time, we've done Good Work (Ethical, Excellent, and Engaging—www.goodworkproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/GW-Overview-04_08.pdf), on behalf of the children we serve. In collaboration with central office administrators, parents, the board of education, teachers and support staff, community members, and building and department administrators, we've accomplished the following in the past nine months:

• We settled contracts with our employee groups, including cost-saving and -containing measures.

• We adopted a self-insurance model with all groups.

• We proposed and passed a budget within the parameters set forth by the board of education.

• We reduced expenditures in line with the board's parameters so that we can balance the budget over the next year.

• We instituted a new schedule for teacher professional learning.

• We adopted a new vision, mission, and learner profile.

• We adopted an outline of a strategic plan.

• We put in place plans for enhancing student learning (more on this in the coming months).

We accomplished these in the face of unnecessary funding cuts from the state government, reduced federal funding, and increased costs for retirement.

In assessing my own performance, there is only one measurement: how does the work I do affect the ways that our children experience schooling?

I feel strongly that my work has and will continue to positively affect the culture of thinking and learning in our schools. This manifests itself most apparently in two ways:

1. My relationships with teachers, parents, administrators, staff, and students.

2. The common sense of direction for our district.

It is my intention to continue to build upon these, and to strengthen my relationship with and the direction of the board of education, so that we can move learning forward for each and every child we serve. In the coming weeks, I will share with you my goals for the 2011-2012 school year.

In the meantime, our world evolves. According to Fareed Zakaria's updated book, The Post American World, 2.0 (2011, W. W. Norton Company), the United States of America is on the decline in many economic measures.

Soon, we will no longer lead the world in the number of patents and citations in scientific journals. Germany, with a population of nearly 120 million fewer people than the United States, exports more goods than we do. Shortly, the world's tallest building, fifty largest factories, and economy will reside in Asia. Our aging infrastructure of bridges, our power grid, and our transportation systems, along with our lack of widespread Internet accessibility and our government's declining investment in discovery industries and education, are putting America behind.

Zakaria (2011) also predicts hope for the USA in the fact that, unlike many other countries in the world, our population is growing. This, Zakaria attributes in large part to the fact that we allow immigrants in, which many other countries do not. Population growth means the availability of more workers, which offers great hope for our future (hear more at www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&prgDate=6-30-2011).

It seems that the United States for generations possessed and utilized the knowledge, workforce, and skill to lead the world in manufacturing, engineering, research, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, creativity, and design. According to Zakaria (2011), we're on the verge of dropping out of this dominant role.

In response, President Obama recently established a $500 million Advanced Manufacturing initiative, partnering several companies and universities, including strong connections to Michigan in the Ford Motor Company, the Dow Chemical Company, and the University of Michigan (www.mlive.com/business/mid-michigan/index.ssf/2011/06/obamas_advanced_manufacturing). What else can be done? What should we do—as a community and as a school district?

I expect the Clarkston Community Schools—with a mission of cultivating thinkers, learners, and positive contributors to a global society—to continue to produce leaders through excellent schools, educators, and learning opportunities such as CSMTech, Team RUSH, Project Lead the Way, Advanced Studies, International Baccalaureate, Career and Technical Education programs, curricular offerings, LEAD programs, athletics, the arts, community education, and many others.

Additionally, I expect our strong and growing relationships with businesses, the community and parents, Oakland University, and Oakland Community College to prepare our students to lead the future.

What do you think? What is our responsibility? What are the possibilities? Please respond at my blog, rodrockon.blogspot.com.

I look forward to hearing from you.

God bless America and all those who have, do, and will continue to stand tall for our freedoms.

Dr. Rod Rock is superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools.

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