Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Powerful Message I Received Today

I received  this today and it moved me. I know it's long but give it a start and I bet you finish it. 

Comment and let me know what you think, especially if you're from Michigan. 

I have to clarify that this was not sent from my actual superintendent. My building principal forwarded this to us. I felt his passion to reach teachers and I felt compelled to post it.  

CCS-Clarkston Community Schools
Superintendent's Call to Action: Part I of a Four Part Series

May 8, 2011

Fellow Citizens of Michigan:

I did everything that was requested of me, and so did you. 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 (the ones in our neighborhoods), our children (the ones with the first, middle, and last names who attend our neighborhood schools), and their teachers (the ones who teach our children in our neighborhood schools). I'm angry with and disappointed in those elected officials who chose to vote this way. It's left me wondering about the long-term agenda of these elected officials (first emergency financial managers, now cuts in funding, what's next?). Is this the beginning of the end of public education as we know it (neighborhood schools, children, and teachers)?
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 (e.g., PTA, MASA, MASB, MASSP, MEMSPA, MASCD, Learning Forward Michigan, MEA, MAISA, and even non-educational entities) 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.

Here are my values:

Locally controlled schools; excellent teachers; engaged, globally connected students; and collaborative communities & parents.

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.
4. Education is not political. Education is fundamental.
5. Local communities must control their school systems.
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 (e.g., collective bargaining, governmental, not-for-profit, higher education, early childhood education) 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.

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 (A substitute custodian came by just to introduce himself. He told me he's studying to become a teacher. He then went outside and directed traffic as parents dropped off their children--and he wished each one of them a great day--my state representative wasn't there to see it, but I was, and I won't forget it). Our educators, parents, and citizens were hopeful that 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." 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 (come to one of our football games, attend a concert or a play, visit a talent show or school fair, or travel with our robotics team to a national competition--you'll need to squeeze yourself in because the seats are full of people who love their children, neighbors, and friends). It's fundamental.

So, I'm standing up. Who is with me? 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, Committed Servant of Children, American, Michigander, Teacher, Voter, Citizen, and Fervent Advocate of Local Education
Clarkston Community Schools

Claimer: I make no apologies for standing up for the people I serve. The stakes are high, the challenges great, and the possibilities profound.


  1. Wow, I can honestly say that my superintendent would never send an e-mail that powerful. It would have a lot more cheesy political mumbo jumbo in it. I'm so impressed... I'm really interested to see where this goes and how this develops!! We need more people like this in education, who see it for what it truly is. I'm from Texas BTW... and we apparently just cut our funding by several billion dollars. Districts across our state and letting go of TONS of new teachers with amazing passion and new knowledge. Education is in a really sad state right now. :(

  2. I'm crying. I'm your neighbor in Michigan and I usually avoid posting anything negative in blogland... but the attack on education (and teachers) here is almost more than I can take. I've been calling senators and state reps daily to speak up. I agree - we need to be one voice for the children in our state.

  3. I know I cried too! I was impressed with how moving he was. I'm interested in hearing more from him.

  4. This is fantastic. I'm sitting here crying. This has ended my day on such a high note. Our district was told that. "We are in a good place right now and no jobs will be lost." And yet, today, our librarian, nurses, specials teachers, and instructional facilitators were called in to talk about possible cuts. I hope you won't mind me sharing this with my team!

  5. Wow! I loved reading this! I knew I liked parts of MI (I went to U of M), but I live in Atlanta and like many, I do not have a job next school year. I posted about it two days ago. I think the only reason I didn't cry reading this is because I'm out of tears, and that's why I am up at 2a.m.
    Lessons Learned

  6. Thanks for sharing this! I'm sending this link to my superintendent! In California it has been extremely rough! Our district didn't cut any teachers this year, but handed out a lot of pink slips last year. If the state does vote to extend a tax that has been in place schools will loose LOTS MORE money next year! :( I always enjoy coming to your blog! Thanks, Nancy
    The Apple Basket Teacher

  7. Julie, I was reading another blog and clicked a post that brought me to you...small world.

  8. I'm so sad! There were so many wonderful comments to this post and they are all gone! I hope Blogger gets things back up and running so the comments can be seen. I know many of you were so heartfelt and I hate for your thoughts to be lost.

  9. I wish I had read the comments before they were erased. That is such a well thought and well written letter. I would be proud to work for a superintendent like that. I may print this out to share with teachers at my school. I agree with everything, especially #2,#3 & #10.


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