I am writing in response to Mr. Craig Hamilton's letter regarding the upcoming elections for school board members. In his letter, Mr. Hamilton states that "student achievement is not a priority" in Clarkston Community Schools. As a parent and teacher in this district, I can assure our community that this is completely untrue. Mr. Hamilton wrote in his letter that the focus is on learning. This part is true. What he seems to be missing is the obvious connection between learning, understanding, and student achievement.
Dr. Rock is the most powerful leader I have worked for and his vision for thinking and learning is moving our district forward. We are constantly thinking about student achievement and how we can move our children toward their learning goals. We rely on more than just one standardized measurement to determine the success of our students and our instructional direction.
I am hopeful that our community will look long and hard at the candidates who are running for school board and elect those who are interested in supporting the district, trusting our administration to do the job they were hired to do, and stopping the current practice of micromanagement that we have seen lately.
Clarkston Community Schools is truly a great district because of the people who work with our children on a daily basis and the administration that continues to provide us with innovative vision that supports student thinking and learning, which leads to achievement.
On November 11, I will be voting for those candidates who support our administrative team and who will bring a spirit of cooperation and informed thinking to our school board.
Beth A. Rogers
5th Grade Teacher, Springfield Plains Elementary
October 25, 2014
As a School Board trustee, Elizabeth Egan has proven herself to be strong and diligent in making the tough decisions necessary to allocate limited funds in the manner that will best benefit each student. Whether they are staff, students, family or community she is respectful of everyone's role in the educational process. I am especially appreciative of her ability to trust in and allow the administrative professionals the space to perform their tasks without micromanagement. Please join me in re-electing Elizabeth to our Clarkston School Board. She has definitely proven herself as an asset in setting high standards for Clarkston students. We need her to continue this journey for the benefit of our whole community.
October 24, 2014
Oxford Schools and Weiming Deal – Is it Best for Students and Community?
Here is what I believe as the most critical issues pertaining to the proposed expansion of the International program inside Oxford schools.
I attended the public forum on Monday and to my dismay, as well as many in the audience, the hosting of 200 Chinese students annually is apparently a done deal, as far as our school administration is concerned, regardless if the Weiming facility is located on school grounds or not.
More about this later as the issue at hand for the recent public meetings hosted by Dr. William Skilling, the Oxford Superintendent, was to address the lease and location of the Weiming Dormitory to house the foreign students. There are several potential issues with the proposed dormitory on school property that have seemingly gone unanswered.
How much does the district pay Wieming for the use of the 8-10 classrooms and the dance facility when the district uses them?
What is the anticipated annual operations cost for the building?
When asked, “What if Weiming balks on their commitment and walks away from this deal”, Dr. Skilling stated that the company would have to pay to demo the building or we would find another use to it, though he stated earlier, it is being designed as a single use facility. Companies declare bankruptcy and walk away from buildings on a regular basis, so the potential to leave this community with an eyesore, whether on school or private property, certainly exists. Think about those abandoned auto dealers, factories or big box stores that did not make and how they look sitting idle in communities like ours.
Regarding the design and construction, it was mentioned that the design is rather unsightly, even resembling a minimum-security prison. Based on the elevation drawing, I would agree. It does not seem to fit the persona of the community. Remember all the grief Meijer (less than a mile away) was given a few years back over making the building and façade reminiscent of the community.
Also, when asked who would oversee the construction so that we did not have the same problems with the new building that have been experienced with the high school construction/renovation (leaky roofs, improper HVAC, etc.), Skilling acknowledged that the High School was constructed in a shoddy manner and that repeatable firms would be hired to conduct the construction, and that Wieming was taking care of all that.
The district opinion is seemingly that Weiming is taking care of everything with no district or professional oversight on the design or construction. Its all Free and all provided by Weiming. I think it should be a major area of concern for the administration. Nothing is Free.
The greater issue is with the proposed expansion itself.
The school currently host 19 students through the student exchange program. Are we prepared to host a 10X multiplier of that? Furthermore, lets expand that to the entire International Baccalaureate curriculum that the district lauds itself on. With the entire K-12 curriculum surrounding IB, we have less than 20 students enrolled at the high school level in the IB program. Why? There is no evidence that IB students are looked upon more favorably by colleges than other high achieving students with advanced placement or honors classes.
Also, there has been no solid evidence presented that more International students in the classroom better prepares our students for college and/or the workplace. The districts fluffy statement based on this question at one of the meetings:
How does this program benefit our student body?
As outlined in our 2008 strategic plan, a priority focus for Oxford Community Schools is to prepare students for a Global World that is constantly changing. An internationally diverse student body helps our students improve their global awareness and mindfulness, more authentically learn their world language of choice, learn to be a member of an international team, and begin the building of an international network.
Foreign language is certainly an enabler. Though, a college or job application will only ask if you are fluent in any foreign languages, not if you interacted with foreign students as part of your high school experience. Students have a choice of where they go to school, work, etc. If they want more interaction with a foreign culture, they are free to go there. Also, if they are working with a global corporation where regular interaction with international co-workers is required, fine. Global companies are paying their employees to conduct this interaction; not forcing an international population on them because they think it is in their best interest.
The other side of this is that we invite more foreign competition into our country to educate them and potentially fill 200 spots in our colleges and universities or 200 jobs per year ahead for our own candidates.
Moreover, from a global economic and political perspective, the Golden Rule applies; he with the gold rules. With communist China already owning trillions of dollars of our national debt, is it really a good thing for this community to further support and enable this empire?
Perhaps the most disheartening part of this entire quandary as that the business arrangement between Wieming and the Oxford Schools was shepherded by Dr. Skilling in the 2012/13 timeframe where he was the Superintendent for Oxford Schools and was ALSO paid on a consulting contract by Wieming, which he stated he resigned when he brought the plan to the board. Though Dr. Skilling stated this is allowable in his contract, it is hardly ethical. Heck, the district just suspended 30+ student-athletes, questioning their moral and ethical behavior due to participation in a party. Perhaps the Superintendent should be held to the same code of conduct, as this is a major conflict of interest, no different than an official from the school being paid by another vendor that the school works with. I would also be interested to know if any of the Board members where paid and what the Wieming funded trips to the Orient for the Superintendent and Board for valued at.
The manner in which this contract was pushed through by the board at about this time last year is also questionable. It seems that very little public notice was given regarding an issue with such brevity for our community. I was not aware of this and many that I talk to in the community knew nothing about it. With children in the schools, we are inundated with email messages on all types of subject matter. There was never a mention of this. I do not recall seeing anything in the school district publication (sent quarterly I believe) either. Instead, there is some meager attempt at informing the public by putting a notice in the local paper. It seems suspicious.
Sure, the Board is elected to make decisions. But something of this scale should have been further vetted. If it was not important, why did they schedule meetings (again, not very well publicized) for the land/lease part of this deal in past days?
It seems that this topic deserves more discussion in our community. I would encourage our Superintendent, Board, County or State authorities, if intervention is necessary, to delay or cancel the contract with Wieming to provide the opportunity for more public discussion and resolution.
October 21, 2014
Please note -- resubmitting this with correct spelling of supervisor's name.
It has been said that a community is known for the way they care for their young, old, and sick. During the August election surrounding communities voted with compassion and the proposal to fund NOTA was passed. Sadly, that was not the case in Addison Twp. NOTA allows people in need their dignity in traveling to doctors, grocery stores, and other necessary places. This is not a luxury, but a real service that anyone at anytime may find themselves seeking. Bruce Pearson commented that the majority spoke and it will be on the ballot once again in November but as our supervisor, he will abide by the outcome. I beg to differ; not only did the majority not vote (with a less than 8% turnout), but those who voted against this perhaps did not understand the critical nature of NOTA funding and the low cost per household it entails. For far less than what it would cost each of us to personally drive a disabled veteran, a senior, or an infirmed individual, voters in Addison Twp could do the right thing. Please get out and vote to insure that our township cares for our most vulnerable community members.
October 21, 2014
If the school board decides to continue and has all the agreements signed before Jan. then the Nov. election will have no meaning and the new members will have no voice. How can the people stop this dorm from being built by China. What sounds to good to be true, usually there is problem.
October 18, 2014
Dear Mr. Carnacchio,
I really don't know where to start to express my dissagreement with your opinion. In general, i would expect more professionalism and "out of the box thinking" from a leading editor, even if it is "just" a local newspaper.
First of all, I'd like to apologize in advance for any misspelling or mistakes. My family and I are German citizens and we live in the US since 2012. I am not a native english speaker.
Naming the Nazis, Goebbels, the Devil and China in one article makes me speachless. Before you pull up comparisons like this, you should think a little further.
We have lived in China for more than six years. I did not just go there on business trips, I lived and worked there. And I traveled around China with my Chinese colleagues to places, you can never visit as a tourist. I have seen things I liked, and things I didn't like. And there are things about the Chinese goverment I don't like either. But calling a whole country a devil because of its goverment?
So, you don't trust the Chinese Goverment, because they spy on the US Government. Have you heard about how the US Goverment was just recently spying on the German Cancelor? I thought, the Germans and the Americans were friends. Do you spy on your friends as well? And what do you think, the CIA and the FBI are doing?
You think the Chinese Goverment is lying. Who told the world, the Iraqi Goverment has weapons of mass distruction? And have you heard about a place called Guantanamo?
You don't have to trust China or anything coming from China. But I think a person in your position, writing for a newspaper, should be more open-minded and objective. Especially if you write about countries you have never visited.
During our time in China our daughter went to an American International School. She learned English there and had classmates from all over the world. Everybody from a different country and culture. And the school organized events, where every country could show their culture. This is a way to educate a child to be open minded.
I am happy, that the Oxford School District teaches Chinese. To learn Chinese, you need a very clear pronounciation. This helps to develop a fine sense of hearing and can help you to learn other languages easier in the future. To learn about China is not selling your soul to the devil, it is to teach kids about a totally different world and culture. This is how thinking out of the box is created.
In a word that is getting more and more globalized and connected, it is not enough anymore to learn just English and Spanish.
We hosted a Chinese guest student this summer. We were happy to show our guest Oxford, Michigan and how we live in the US. This helps to create a new thinking and understandstanding of foreign cultures.
Like you, I strongly dissagree with a goverment that does not respect human rights. It doesn't matter which country it is. But I would never judge an entire country and its people because of its goverment like you did.
I saw a change of thinking in many young Chinese people. They start to ask questions and show their dissagreement about their goverment. I am optimistic there will be a positive change in the long run.
October 18, 2014
I live in Leonard and I am sick of not having a gas station. There is one in town, but it does not sell gas. What it is an eye sore to the community. Old tires stacked around the building and now its a used car lot. It looks terrible from the road and is not maintained. Very shabby looking and looks like something we would see in Detroit. We have no choice but to go to Oxford, Dryden, or 32/Rochester to get gas. With winter nearly here we should not have to drive further than we have to. Its time for the good old boys to retire and let a younger generation take over. The good boys only support good old boys, not the community. Time for fresh face. The younger community doesn't want growth anymore than the elderly around here, but at least the current owner could do is keep up on the place.
October 17, 2014
Since Paad was found not guilty, who are they going to blame for the missing money? Where is the missing money, are there criminal charges pending? It is time to remove the Village Leaders.
October 17, 2014
I went to Thursday meeting and I am worried that the school board will continue trying to get all the contracts signed and the incoming elected officials will not have a say in this process. I have always been told that if it sounds to be too good to be true there is a problem (China building the dorm for free). Since China is supposed to be turning to capitalism (production,distribution, and exchange of wealth) and not Communism (classless society in which private ownership has been abolished). What is the price Oxford will pay for this free dorm? Let's not make a deal with the devil.
October 17, 2014
I also am giving my support for Kim Shumaker.
She has shown that she is a leader and not a follower of the pack. I had the opportunity to get to really know her and the depth of her integrity through Wrestling and Robotics. She always gave 100% if not more. She is someone who's word you can trust. If she says she is going to do something she follows through.
Sandy and Jim Frisch
October 13, 2014