Sunday, 8 May 2016

Responsible iPad Use in Classrooms - Petaluma

April 23 at 9:47pm

I am a Master's level classroom teacher. My current work involves researching and recommending funding for program's in children's environmental health. I am a strong proponent of smart, developmentally appropriate safe technology use in my home and schools. I moved to Petaluma from the East Bay largely for cleaner air and better schools. I chose this neighborhood partly because I had heard so many great things about Cherry Valley.
I was very upset to hear that Petaluma City Schools spent a large part of our bond money (with little to no community and teacher input) on purchasing an I-Pad for EVERY student in Petaluma City Schools starting in kindergarten. Many educators and parents agree with me that young children should spend most of their educational time off of computers. I allow my child to play educational games on the computer at home from time to time, but I don't want that to be a large part of his classroom experience. When I asked the Deputy Superintendent of Petaluma City Schools if we could opt out of the program and if my child could do other things during I-pad time, I was told that none of us can opt out (even if we volunteer to come in and teach our child at that time). I was told that in order to save money, all textbooks will soon be going on-line, so we can't opt out. I understand that next year my son will have at least 45 minutes per day on the i-Pad just for reading instruction alone and soon he will have to take it home nightly and charge it at my home. 

I asked the Center for Environmental Health to do a literature on i-Pad safety because I was worried about eye strain in kids. I understand that children's eye muscles aren't fully developed until age 7. I have the report and I am happy to share it with anyone. It brings up concerns I never thought of such as: carpel tunnel (the District i-Pads don't come with keyboards), myopia, Internet/device addiction (a new DSM category), and Wi-Fi (mentioned as a possible safety hazard because the research is mixed). 

So, I decided to do more research into Wi-Fi in the classrooms. I learned that this summer Petaluma City Schools installed one industrial strength router inside every classroom in Cherry Valley and that their routers are constantly on and emitting radiation. Most people I know turn off their routers at night and don't place them in their children's bedrooms. In any case, I learned that i-Pads have 5 antennas that emit radiation and when a class of 20 are on at once the radiation levels in the classrooms are greatly magnified. 

I don't want to worry about Wi-Fi. It is everywhere. I had my baby's pack-and-play right next to our router when he was little. That said, the more real, peer-reviewed scientific studies I read about, the more alarmed I am. I started with research from the Environmental Health Trust. I did not want to believe their warnings about children's unique vulnerability to radiation, but I checked in with top researchers and people at the Environmental Working Group, UCSF and the Center for Public Health and I was assured that the science coming from the Environmental Health Trust is sound. Here is a link to their recommendation about limiting children's' exposure to Wi-Fi. The idea is that since Wi-Fi is everywhere and the effects are mostly likely cumulative, we won't really know the effects for at least 10 years. So, to air on the side of caution, the best practice would be to limit Wi-Fi exposures at home and at school, the places where kids spend most of their time.

"Children are not little adults. Children’s skulls are thinner and tissues of a child’s head, including the bone marrow and the eye, absorb significantly more energy than those in an adult head. It is scientifically accepted that children are more vulnerable to the biological effects of microwave exposure than adults due their rapidly developing body systems. Children’s stem cells are more affected by microwave radiation. No studies show that microwave radiation exposure in children is safe or that continuous exposure from cell phones, cell towers, cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors, etc. is safe."
and about the research...... see

"HOW MANY STUDIES DOES IT TAKE?: There are now more than 5,000 studies, linking more than 122 biological effects from wireless technologies. Meanwhile there are more than 10,000 studies that do not show effects. Does this prove that there are no effects? The science is finding biological effects from wireless technologies 38% of the time. Yet, these mixed results create a perceived ambiguity, which has allowed regulators across the US to continue to approve deployments of “untested and unproven” wireless technologies. The basis for approval is that regulators claim that there is not consensus in the science over the biological impacts from microwaves and radio-frequencies. "

INTERNATIONAL SCIENTISTS SOUND THE ALARM: "BIO-INITIATIVE REPORT: "In August 2007 fourteen international scientists reviewed more than 2000 studies in a meta-study linking microwaves and other EMFs to multiple health impacts, including DNA damage, brain cancer, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, children’s cancers (leukemia), immune system dysfunction, cardiac symptoms, alteration of melatonin production, inflammation and electromagnetic sensitivity. The 630 page report also links numerous symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, concentration issues, fuzzy thinking, joint and muscle pain and memory loss to wireless.: Summary of the BioInitative Report.

SCIENCE SHOWS BIOEFFECTS: Since 1999 the US government has failed to fund even one non-military study on the health effects of wireless technologies. During that during that time at least 12 new classes of wireless technologies were deployed and more than 1000 independent studies have shown a broad range of biological effects from microwaves and other EMFs. The BioInitiative Report reviews more than 2000 studies, linking wireless and other EMFs to disease, symptoms and biological effects."

For all still reading. Thank you. I have used my 3 minutes allotted to me to speak up at a school board meeting. I did join a group of parents to speak with the principal at Cherry Valley. She was very receptive to allowing independent metering of Wi-Fi levels at Cherry Valley until she spoke with the administration and was told our only recourse is to speak up at school board meetings. Maybe you don't care about Wi-Fi, maybe you care that the filters don't work and your child is accessing highly inappropriate content. Whatever your issue, please speak up. These are our schools, these are our kids and they deserve the best. Let's continue this conversation off line. : ) Peace

PS. I am about to join nine other families I know leaving Petaluma City Schools. My family had a lot to offer this district..: (
Education, Research, and Policy to Reduce Environmental Risks.

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