Sunday, February 22, 2015

Say NO to Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind

In the coming week, Congress is considering reauthorizing No Child Left Behind.  My Congressman, Virginia Foxx, supports NCLB. I've started a petition on my website to ask Virginia Foxx to vote no on reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (H.R. 5). You can sign it here. I'm planning on bringing copies of the petition to her office Tuesday, February 24 and will make sure her staff receives copies of any other signatures past this date.

Read the Heritage Action Sentinel Brief of ReAuthorizing NCLB here.

No Child Left Behind takes power away from parents and students and empowers bureaucrats and unions. The federal government has become too involved in education. Education should be controlled locally! H.R. 5 lacks an opt-out of federal programs and mandates for states. Since education should be controlled closer to home, states should able to opt out. Bureaucrats in DC do not know better than parents and localities.

H.R. 5 does increase portability, but only to public schools and public charter schools. Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) had proposed an amendment in committee that was withdrawn. This amendment would have extended portability to private schools of choice, IF a state so chose!

H.R. 5 Does NOT protect against Common Core.  It prevents future coercion by the federal government in forcing states to adopt Common Core standards, but does not stop it.

H.R. 5 claims to replace the current national accountability system with state-led accountability systems. "They" claim  this frees states from federal interference. Heritage Action states, "Although the proposal wisely eliminates counterproductive and prescriptive Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) mandates, H.R. 5 maintains the current NCLB mandates for states to establish standards in reading and math and to test kids annually between grades 3-8 and once in high school."

H.R. 5 orders that academic achievement standards "include the same knowledge, skills and levels of achievement expected of all public school students in the state" and mandates that states must also use "the same academic assessments...to measure the academic achievement of all public school students in the state." See the link to the Heritage Action brief above for more information.

H.R. 5 consolidates more than 65 programs into a Local Academic Flexibility Grant, but does not eliminate them. This doesn't reduce federal spending. We need to reduce send and eliminate programs!

Finally, H.R. 5 does eliminate the AYP requirement, but maintains requirements for states to develop their own "statewide accountability structure, a system of school improvement interventions to be implemented at the local level for ...schools the state determines to be poorly performing."  Just as in North Carolina, renaming common core under a different education standard mandates doesn't make it go away, rebranding AYP as a federally mandated state run requirement doesn't make AYP go away. See the brief above for more details.

Heritage Action has a great brief on what Congress SHOULD do! Please read it, then follow the instructions in the email from HA that I cut and pasted below.

If you click on the link in the email below, you can contact your representative and tell them to vote NO! If you are in NC05, please don't forget to sign the petition on my website. I will be hand delivering these to her office on Tuesday afternoon!

The Bush-Era No Child Left Behind law created a culture of extreme testing and oppressive federal intervention on students, teachers and school administrators. 
Next week the House will vote to reauthorize No Child Left Behind (H.R. 5). 
If they act, they will be extending this outdated education policy through 2021. 
No Child Left Behind must be stopped. America deserves a bold, conservative plan for education reform. We can’t allow Congress to pass old policy and old plans and hope for new results. 
Thank you for fighting for America's future.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Petition to End the Export-Import Bank

Please visit my new activist website to sign the petition to End the Export-Import Bank. We will be getting the petitions to our NC Congressmen! Please visit the link below to sign.

End ExIm Petition 

We must end crony capitalism! The government should not be picking winners and losers. Using our tax dollars to give corporations high risk loans they couldn't otherwise get, no less!

Freedomworks has a great summary on the top ten reasons to let the Export-Import Bank Expire here.

Heritage Action has a great article about the 58 Republicans who have embraced corporate welfare by signing on to the bill to re-authorize the ExIm Bank for 5 years. Read the article here.

Don't forget to sign the petition! Please share this Heritage Action for America meme on Facebook and Twitter, too!




Saturday, February 14, 2015

Life Along SDS Highway 101 with Frequent Vacations in Egypt

I just got a new computer....after not having access to a real working one for almost a year. I came across tis file in Google Docs.

Life Along SDS Highway 101 with Frequent Vacations in Egypt
   Finding support from those who travel the same road

We’ve been on a journey along what I like to call “SDS Highway 101” for almost twelve years now.  I have two boys who have Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS) and I can tell you that nothing can ever prepare a parent to hear that their child has a life-threatening, potentially fatal illness.   Finding support along the way has been a valuable tool in helping our family cope with the twists and turns of life along SDS Highway 101.

had neurosurgery (they cut the base of his spinal cord) and in December 2006, we learned that there was a possibility that Joseph may need a bone marrow transplant.   We later found out that he did not have a match in the National Marrow Donor Program Registry and were devastated.  Both of my boys are about to have their fourth bone marrow biopsy in just over a year  because they have had abnormal findings of del 20q and del 7q.   The SDS Highway 101 has many exits along the way.  Sometimes we are able to choose where we get off and other times we are forced off the highway.    While we often experience traffic jams and construction,  we also experience driving smoothly along the scenic portion of the highway from time to time, too.   Of course, there are bumps in the road, dangerous curves, and narrow sections along the way.  We’ve even experienced breakdowns.   The families we have met through the SDS support group have helped us tremendously.  They have been our tow-trucks and snow plows during some pretty scary times (breakdowns and snow storms!).   It helps knowing we are not on this journey alone.   

Sean and Joseph were both diagnosed at the age of two.  Their journey to diagnosis was a long one, one where we did not have experienced families to talk to.  Not long after Sean was diagnosed in 1998, a friend and I started an SDS email list on what was then called One List (now Yahoo Groups).   This daily contact with other SDS families became a life saver for me.    These families helped us through many a road block and trial.  Over the years, I have been blessed to meet these parents at various conferences, camps and in Cincinnati where my boys are seen at the Bone Marrow Failure Clinic at CCHMC.  It has been wonderful being able to meet and connect with these families – especially when we are at the hospital in Cincinnati.  It has helped my two boys cope with their hospital visits and the long trip to Cincinnati.   One time, Joseph forgot he was going to CCHMC to have a bone marrow biopsy done!  He thought we were going up there just to visit his SDS friends.   

One of the coping mechanisms I have adopted over the years, is to take virtual vacations to Egypt.   It started off because I would tell people I was in denial about the boys having SDS and would tell them that I was, “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial.”     I would talk about floating down Denial River and how I was so far up Denial River that I could see up Marc Antony’s skirt.    One day, another SDS mom mentioned vacationing in Egypt and sitting on top of the Great Pyramid and so it began…..our entire support group began taking regular virtual vacations to Egypt.   I am the one who always brings the umbrellas for our virtual adult beverages as we float along the river.  I like the brightly colored paper umbrellas, they are important to me.  

As you can see, life along SDS Highway 101 can even have its entertaining moments.   I have leaned on these friends a lot in the past year and a half.  In October of 2006, Joseph These curves in the road have been scary, but I am not alone.  I have faith that God is always with me, but I also have the wonderful friends I have met along SDS Highway 101.  I do not know what I would have done without the support of these wonderful friends.   

Life is a highway.  It has been a blessing to have people with me who have already been to the exits I am approaching.  As we face the possibility of transplant, the families who have experienced transplant have reached out and shared their experiences with me.   I cannot thank them enough for their love, encouragement and support.  I hope that I have been able to help other families through the sharing of my experiences, too.

You are not weak because you reach out for support from others.  We all have the need to be understood.  If you are battling a chronic illness, find others who are on the same highway.  Sharing your experiences can make you a stronger person and better able to deal with your child’s illness (or your own).  If you have a family member with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, I encourage you to find support.  Those of us with SDS children travel down the same SDS Highway 101 and through the Shwachman Syndrome Friends and Family list, we have helped one another cope with the twists and turns of SDS Highway 101.