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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sometimes School Trustees Make You Proud

In Ontario there's been a bit of a kerfflufle lately over WiFi in public schools. It started when some parents in a town north of here claimed that their kids were getting sick in school because of radiation from WiFi networks. One parent (Patricia Naylor) claimed the she and one of her children were very sensitive to radiation. She formed the "Safe School Committee" to lobby for a ban on WiFi.

The claims have received considerable media attention leading to the inevitable spread of the problem as more and more parents "recognize" that their children suffer from nausea and lethargy in school and it must be due to radiation. A group of teachers almost supported a ban on WiFi in response to these parents.

The latest round occurred at a conference of The Ontario Elementary Teachers Federation where they voted down a resolution banning WiFi [Teachers not joining Wi-Fi fight].

The money quote comes from a trustee ...
Collingwood/Clearview Trustee Caroline Smith said the board must balance free speech with science, education and access to technology.

"In this case, a very small group of people came forward and actually one person brought forward a concern. Normally a school board can say ‘thank you’ (and stop at that). We said thank you and asked staff to do additional research. We brought in a scientist," she said.

"We allowed a second series of deputations (including Naylor in April) to come forward and we listened again," she said, adding she then put forward a motion asking for the education and health ministers for advice.

"We want our children to have the most modern pathways to education. We don’t want to tie their hands (by not giving them access to the technology that’s available)," she said.

The board’s program committee chairman, Trustee Rob North called the Safe School Committee’s stance "bizarre" in a blog, and criticized the group for relying on studies by a botanist which have not been peer-reviewed.

"It’s time to shut this down, folks. Junk science simply cannot be allowed to influence public policy decisions. Wireless technology, installed and operated correctly, is perfectly safe. The World Health Organization, Industry Canada, Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health and countless others who have access to people who are experts in the fields of biology, electrical engineering and so on have deemed it to be safe," said North.

"I can tolerate people’s eccentricities for a while. I can wait while people vent about perceived injustices for hours on end. I can sit by and let some folks try to salvage their long lost credibility for a bit. But at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to look people squarely in the eyes and tell them, ‘I’m sorry, you’re wrong.’"
Let's hope that puts an end to this silliness.


Eamon Knight said...

Gosh, an elected official with the guts to say that some of his constituents are behaving stupidly and should go buy a clue?

(Checks for reports of frost in Hades)

Anonymous said...

Yes, but what if some of the children getting sick have also received vaccinations? Do I have to draw everyone a map?

Home-schooling seems imminent in the Naylor household.

Anonymous said...

I dream of a day when "inability to listen to reason" is a classifiable psychiatric disorder. Only then will these parents get the help that they need ;-)

Gabriel said...

"Yes, but what if some of the children getting sick have also received vaccinations? Do I have to draw everyone a map?"

Unless your joking (and if you are, well done) then yes, I would need a map.

Thanks for the great Blog post. I have been following this story closely as public panic based on irrational and unprovable fears always interest me.

I do a weekly Podacast called Thoughts from the Wall and this post will be mentioned and quoted a few times lol.

It is nice to see the board choose reason over panic.

TheBrummell said...

But at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to look people squarely in the eyes and tell them, ‘I’m sorry, you’re wrong.’"

This is fantastic. I want to print this off in great big type and stick it on my wall, or perhaps my office door.

Anonymous said...

More information about the biological effects of non-ionizing radiation from wireless technology is coming out every day. Enough is not being done by cities, counties, states and the Federal Government to protect us from the potentially devastating health and environmental effects. Through the 1996 telecommunications act the telecoms are shielded from liability and oversight. Initially cell phones were released with no pre-market safety testing despite the fact the Government and the Military have known for over 50 years that radio frequency is harmful to all biological systems (inthesenewtimes dot com/2009/05/02/6458/.). Health studies were suppressed and the 4 trillion dollar a year industry was given what amounts to a license to kill.
On it's face, the 1996 telecommunications act is unconstitutional and a cover-up. Within the fine print city governments are not allowed to consider "environmental" effects from cell towers. They should anyway! It is the moral and legal obligation of our government to protect our health and welfare? Or is it? When did this become an obsolete concept? A cell tower is a microwave weapon capable of causing cancer, genetic damage & other biological problems. Bees, bats, humans, plants and trees are all affected by RF & EMF. Communities fight to keep cell towers away from schools yet they allow the school boards to install wi fi in all of our schools thereby irradiating our kids for 6-7 hours each day. Kids go home and the genetic assault continues with DECT portable phones, cell phones, wi fi and Wii's. A tsunami of cancers and early alzheimer's await our kids. Young people under the age of 20 are 420% more at risk of forming brain tumors (Swedish study, Dr. Lennart Hardell) because of their soft skulls, brain size and cell turn over time. Instead of teaching "safer" cell phone use and the dangers of wireless technology our schools mindlessly rush to wireless bending to industry pressure rather than informed decision making. We teach about alcohol, tobacco, drugs and safe sex but not about "safer" cell phone use. We are in a wireless trance, scientists are panicking while young brains, ovaries and sperm burns.

Anonymous said...

My ovaries! They're burning!

Anonymous said...

I used to worry about cell phone radiation, but after both a tarot card reader and my astrologer told me it wasn't dangerous, my mind was put at ease.

ergaster said...

I've been on vacation in the Maritimes and evidently missed this kerfuffle. Certainly nothing has appeared on my school board's email.

I suspect I will find WiFi in the schools when I go back

bad Jim said...

Mabus helps us keep everything in perspective. At the very moment we're tempted to think we've reached the outer limits of human folly, he reminds us just how far one might boldly go.