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The Health of Our Children is First and Foremost

On January 8, 2020 Anne Arundel County Board of Education District 6 candidate Joanna Bache Tobin presented the following testimony in opposition to a cell phone tower to be erected on the property of Shadyside Elementary School. To generate revenue the AAC BOE would form a partnership with a telecom company in exchange for some of the profit.

Good Evening President Corkadel, Vice President Ellis, Dr. Arlotto, and Members of the Board:

I wish to express my concern about moving forward with building a cell tower on the land surrounding Shady Side Elementary School, as well as on any of our AACPS campuses. My concerns are two-fold.

First, I am concerned about exposing our children to potential health risks. The World Health Organization has determined that the radiation from cell towers is carcinogenic. That should be sufficient for us to stop this practice in its tracks. Exposing our children to such a potential risk is unacceptable.

Second, I feel strongly that AACPS should not be in the business of running this kind of commercial enterprise, which may lead to a real conflict of interest. Is AACPS in the business of making money, or is it in the business of educating our children? Moreover, our schools and their surrounding campuses are our children's second homes, the places where they grow and learn and become healthy, productive, fulfilled members of their community.

Using school campuses to raise revenue in this way sends all the wrong messages to our children. It says that school, their school, is “for hire,” to be used to generate income. And that, in turn, tells our children that we, the adults responsible, are looking for other ways to fulfill our responsibilities. We are trying to find other entities to pay for the education that we owe our children.

I understand there are community members who are frustrated about the lack of cell service in their area. But in 2020, in the third wealthiest county in one of the wealthiest states in the country, I have to believe we can find other ways to provide cell service to the area.

Thank you for your consideration of my position.

Joanna Bache Tobin

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