Social Mis-media by MILES POSTEMA Rockford School Board Trustee In the early days of the Internet, with slow speeds and dial-up Internet connections, I thought the Internet might go the way of the CB radio—a passing fad but not a lasting part of our lives. I admit that I am not always right in my predictions. Soon there will be nearly a billion users on Facebook alone. Several recent events brought home to me the proliferation of social media in all of its forms. A recent expulsion hearing included text messages from one student to another student. After a student died from an illness on one of my university attorney colleague’s campuses, some students on the same floor posted messages of sympathy on the student’s Facebook page even before the student’s family could be informed through normal, official means. The students did not intend to be disrespectful and likely did not think about the possibility that the family had not yet been notified. They simply wanted to express their condolences using the tool they use most often. Many have Facebook up on their screens nearly all day. Recently, on a visit to my own campus, my middle school daughter noticed that a substantial number of the students in our library were on Facebook. We counted and about a third of the students had Facebook up. I confess it wasn’t any kind of scientific study on our part, but it is clear to me that middle school, high school and college students spend a significant amount of time on or with social media. Parents today did not grow up with social media and we have little real life experiences to share about it with our kids. As a university lawyer and a school board member, almost every conference or workshop I attend has a session on the perils of social media from the perspective of the school or the students. At a recent conference the speaker asked how many attendees had Facebook accounts. In an audience of mostly 40- to 60-year-old lawyers, all but a few hands went up. Students believe that social media is largely private when nothing could be farther from the truth. The speed and spontaneity of social media coupled with the perceived […]
January is School Board Recognition Month, and Rockford Public Schools is joining 552 local and 57 intermediate school districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their untiring dedication to public education. “Michiganders benefit every day from the dedicated energies and countless hours devoted by a group of more than 4,000 men and women across the state,” said Dr. Michael Shibler, Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. “These public servants are elected by our community to serve, and receive little recognition for the difficult job that they do. They are dedicated individuals who are committed to the continuing success of our schools and students.” In a climate of change and challenge, school board members in Rockford develop policies and make tough decisions on complex educational and social issues that affect the entire community and impact individual students. They bear responsibility an oversight for an annual budget of $72 million, approximately 8,000 students, 900 employees and 17 buildings. “We proudly join educators and community members in saluting these education advocates as they provide vision and leadership for student achievement, academic programs, district funding and school facilities. Their service ensures that decisions about local public schools are made by those most familiar with the needs of our community’s children and families,” said Shibler. “They preserve the core of our democracy—public education.” Board members will be formally recognized at the January 10 Board of Education meeting at the Rockford Administration Building. The men and women currently serving on the Rockford Public Schools Board of Education (with first year elected) are: David M. Keller, president (2006); Laura L. Featherston, vice president (2006); Miles J. Postema, secretary (2004); Carol A. Hillman, treasurer (2003); and trustees Timothy J. Lewis (2010), Tamara J. Schollaart (1998), and Randall C. Sellhorn (1995).
Recognize good things by MILES POSTEMA Rockford School Board Trustee During the past year, school board members, teachers, staff and administrators have spent a significant amount of time planning and responding to budget cuts from the state. We have asked for your help to get the message across to our legislators and you have responded. Thanks to the efforts of our community, teachers, staff and administrators, our district is a leader in advocating for adequate and fair funding not only for Rockford Public Schools but for all public schools. We are blessed with two legislators, Senator Mark Jansen and Representative Tom Pearce, who understand the importance of stable and consistent funding for public education and are willing to advocate for it. Recent board meetings have focused on significant and painful budget cuts. Declining state revenues and depressed property values have taken their toll on our funding. Because so much of our budget is devoted to the people who provide the quality education in the district, there is little way to make cuts without impacting our people. I have been impressed by the number of teachers and staff who have approached me to relate that they understand the position the board and administration are in and expressed their support of the tough and painful decisions we have had to make. Unfortunately, it does not appear that we are out of the woods yet, and 2010 will likely bring additional budget challenges. Rockford is justifiably proud and supportive of its quality schools, but there are some areas where it has become sport to blame public employees for the current economic conditions. Clearly, there are opportunities for some reform in the way schools are funded and the way costs are managed across the state. Reading newspaper accounts about the status of the state’s budget and the comments that follow online and in print from some readers leads me to believe that blaming teachers, staff and administrators for the current budget crisis is a little like blaming the individual line worker at the local automobile plant for the demise of the domestic automobile industry. In the midst of the budget climate and lengthy recession, it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing solely on the problems and […]