Friday, March 7, 2014

Screw you Daylight Savings Time!




It's that time of year, the time when we "spring forward" and gain extra daylight, anticipate the arrival of spring and most importantly LOSE AN HOUR OF SLEEP! In an autism household- sleep is a precious commodity, one that is horded like fine jewels or our favorite wine.  Nighttime wanderings, odd sleep schedules and the like is something that most parents with kids on the spectrum endure. Melatonin is the Autism parent's best friend. But when those clocks change-  at either time of the year- it can send our kids into a tailspin that can take a while to recover from.

The Boy, like most autistic children, NEEDS structure and routine. He doesn't like abrupt changes in plans, although as he gets older that seems to be getting a little better.  But when things don't go as they should- in his mind anyway- it is prime time for massive frustration, irritability and possible meltdowns. The time change   is not just an inconvenient part of life for him. Having extra daylight means absolutely nothing to him. The clock on the wall and his internal clock are now different. While his body (and the Melatonin) are telling him one thing- his dad and I are telling him something different- and it messes him up. 

In years past- the time change has been a source of agitation for the whole family. We have to adjust dinner time, medicine time and try to ensure that the first day of the time change he is resting, relaxing and hopefully prepared the following morning for school.  I can't count how many all nighters we pulled (melatonin and Clonidine would get him to dreamland, but would not keep him there.) He was moody, over tired, and not a joy to be around at all. Our lack of sleep made us just as irritable, and of course that made life just all around miserable for everyone. 

This year, like every other year, we will spend Sunday just relaxing, keeping things quiet and make the adjustments that are needed as unobtrusively as possible. This may help, it may not. Monday is also a delayed start at school, so that may help. 

That doesn't mean that the anxious knot in my belly is getting any better. And all of the worse case scenarios are playing on a loop through my sleepless mind. Not like I don't have enough to keep me awake at night, like the impending IEP, some odd behaviors we have been seeing lately, my work, my school...the list goes on. 

I hope that we have an easy transition like we had 2 years ago, and even last year wasn't the worst. We prepare for WWIII at all holidays, family gatherings, family outings and yes for Daylight Savings Time.  Prepare for the worst, hope for the best- my life's motto. 

I think that maturity plays into all of this, and the older he gets, the better he handles unexpected (or even expected) change. He lives by his calendar, and announces any and all holidays on it. So he is aware of DST, and aware we all lose an hour of sleep. And so far, nothing negative. 

Now if only Mother Nature would cooperate, and stop with this polar vortex and snow crap- then we could truly feel like "springing" into anything. 



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What day is it? Donna Day!!


                                                               

It has been 3 years since I read Donna's Cancer Story. In that 3 years I have learned more than I ever want to know about childhood cancer. And by that I mean the things that someone on the outside rarely, if ever, know. The fear, pain, and anger that I can't even fathom. The daily minutiae of caring for a child with cancer. But the one thing that has stuck with me is the HOPE. The hope that Mary Tyler Mom keep alive, despite the fact that she lost her beautiful Donna to the evil that is cancer. Through her pain and sadness, this hope shines through. In her words, in her deeds, and in her daily life. Some days, that light might be dimmer than others, but it doesn't go out. THAT is strength folks. That is amazing.




            
  




This time last year, my Teenzilla was preparing to shave her head for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which began in March, 2000 as the annual reinsurance industry’s St. Patrick’s Day party, held at Jim Brady’s pub in Manhattan. The goal of shaving 17 heads and raising $17,000 turns into 19 bald heads and $104,000 donated to fund the research of the Children’s Oncology Group. 


It was an emotional roller coaster, raising the money (over $1000!) and the event itself.... wow. At the time, Teenzilla was 14, a freshman in high school, and as passionate about what she was about to do as only a teenage girl can be! Mary Tyler Mom and Mary Tyler Son came from Chicago to cheer Teenzilla and her teammates on, and that too was an absolutely amazing gift- getting to meet the woman who's daughter had inspired my girl to shave off her pink hair in Donna's name
                                                         e

When they called her time (3:27) to come to the staging area, I went with her and the captain of our team, Danielle, to get in line. When it was time for me to walk away, I lost it. I started sobbing, hugged them both so tight, not able to put into words how proud I was of them. Not since each of my children made their entrance into the world have I felt so overcome with pride, and emotions. I seriously felt dizzy with all the feels. There are no words to describe it.

                                 

When the time came for her to climb into that barber chair, I was shaking, crying and laughing all at the same time. Then came the moment I will never forget.  A man told us that she was amazing, and how he had lost his young daughter in September and how proud HE was of our daughter for what she was doing. Again- the flood of emotions that came over me was literally staggering. I lost my mom to cancer, but I have no idea what it means to move to "Cancerville" as MTM says, and to lose a child. I call myself a warrior mom, dealing with autism, but these parents, and kids are true warriors. 

My baby girl rocked her bald head, and the kids and staff at the school were incredibly supportive. I am still in awe of what she did, such a beautiful, selfless act, it's simply amazing. And what a difference a year makes!                                                      
                                                        Photo: Wow!! In 3 weeks it will be a year since the St. Baldrick's shave!!

It's a year later, the hair is grown back,  and she still talks about her experience, and has said she wants to do it again- after graduation! 


In celebration of Donna Day 2014- I am asking YOU, dear Wino's, to help out. There are many ways for you to be a hero to kids and their families battling cancer. 

1) CLICK this link-Donna's Good Things  It will take you to the Donna's Good Things fundraising page. Donate $5 or $500- EVERY bit helpsSt. Baldrick’s Logo
St. Baldrick’s Logo


Donna's Good Things at Candlelite Chicago Logo                      

3) Buy one of these super cool shirts! I know that many of you share my like for superheroes and all things geektastic- Teenzilla and I both have one of these shirts, and they are very cool, and definitely attract attention- Marvel Super Heroes Save Lives 

4) Go to the St. Baldrick's Foundation website and read about their mission, their accomplishments and the creative ways they are funding research for pediatric cancer. CLICK this link- St Baldrick's



5) Find a shaving event near you and SHAVE YOUR HEAD!!!

Mary Tyler Mom's family has grown, and they adopted Mary Tyler Baby just last year. And even though Donna has been gone longer than she was here, her story and legacy live on in her mom, dad and two brothers.  Life does go on. 

 Remember MTM's mantra- Always, ALWAYS choose hope.  Hope will help you make it through.








    

                                                   

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Resolutions are for idealistic hipsters....








It's that time of year again. The time when we all tell ourselves (and everyone within earshot) just how dramatically our life is about to change. Of course it is. Of course we do. Just like we did the last twenty New Year’s eves. And how well did all of THOSE turn out? Many of us are fantastic resolution makers. Beyond that, not so good. The making, good. The doing, not so good.


January is the "official" start time for change. A new year, a new you and all that jazz-you know the story. But if you really think about it- shouldn't you be making changes all year long? Why the hell are you waiting till the end of the year or the start of a new year? If your life was screwed up before 12/31, its going to be screwed up going into the new year. "But this year will be different!" you are probably saying or thinking as you read this. I truly wish you the best of luck with that. I know for myself- making a "resolution" is basically setting myself up for failure- because NOBODY holds me to higher standards than me- so when I fail- I fail HARD.




Let's count my resolution failures shall we?

1) Years 2002-2010- Going to lose weight and get into shape and eat better (even joined a gym for 5 of those years- have you seen my fat ass?)

2) Years 2005-2010- Going to quit smoking (quit for 6 months in '06, and again for 4 months in '08. The rest of the year's, maybe quit for a couple of weeks maybe a month)

3) Years 2001- 2010- Going to stop "sweating the small stuff" (OK- I have relaxed a little more over the years)

4) Years 2001-2010- Going to work with my hubby to make and stick to a budget (We try, all year round- getting better, but still not there)




So yeah- the biggest resolutions most people make, are my biggest failures.Damn. It's kind of depressing. I have come to the realization that if you make a resolution you might as well throw a penny in a fountain and make a wish. It’s the same hopeful optimism that drives both activities. No "resolution" will work unless you have formulated a plan- written it down and gave yourself reasonable time to complete it. And I repeat- why didn't you (or I) do this earlier in the year? I have needed to lose weight ALL YEAR. I have needed to quit smoking ALL YEAR. I have needed to save money and take better control of my finances ALL YEAR. The changing of the calendar after drinking, eating and smoking to my heart's content is not magical in itself. If only! Then we would all be thin beautiful, rich non smokers and there would be peace on Earth yadda yadda yadda.


If I am going to try to better myself, I should be doing it year-round. It should be a constant goal, not something marked on a calendar. I know that these things need to start at some point, and what I need to do. I also know that falling on my ass and looking like a total schmuck and then beating myself up over my dismal failure is not a good strategy.


So despite an abysmal track record and a vast wasteland of shattered dreams, we continue to approach every New Year the same way; with the same pointless strategy. Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? So that must mean that a whole bunch of us are off our nut insane because that’s exactly what we do.


2013 hasn't been a horrible year- of course we had our setbacks, but there was a lot of good too. I'm still in school, The Mister is 3 classes away from his Bachelor's Degree (I am a year out- but hey almost there!), I got an amazing job as lead teacher and director of a great preschool, The Boy went away to camp for a week and we both survived, Teenzilla shaved her head for St. Baldrick's, (still blown away by that!) I got to meet Mary Tyler Mom at the shaving event- that was fantastic! I was a very loud advocate for The Boy and spread autism awareness like fairy dust all year, I got to watch a beautiful woman realize the dream of becoming a mom, to TWINS- I Want a Dumpster Baby has been a source of many smiles and happiness for me this year! I am pretty happy with 2013 for the most part, and look forward to a productive 2014.

I won't be making one single solitary resolution though. With the exception of those born on January 1, none of us are actually a full year older on New Year’s day. I challenge challenge everyone today to stop looking at the new year as a means to an end and to start looking at every moment as an opportunity for a new beginning. So eat, drink and be merry ,and just be just realistic, thankful, and hopeful.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The holiDAZE with Autism

Making him take pictures- not my best idea


The HoliDAZE and Autism... two things that don't often mix well. The rushing, the loud music, the winter clothes, the crowds,  and new foods can all be a sensory NIGHTMARE for the child with Autism. Meltdowns are more likely to happen during this time of year- and with all of the other things going on it is VERY easy as a parent to get overwhelmed ourselves. So here are some things that we have found helps us out this crazy time of year...and being blessed with a child who has High Functioning Autism, we have it easier than some folks. But these tips can be helpful for ANY child and frazzled parent. So here goes...


1)This time of year is filled with meeting new people and the social stresses of being polite, and thanking people for gifts can put a BIG strain on a kiddo on the spectrum. Social stories are AMAZING helpers - but so is a willingness as parents to be understanding, TRY and limit interactions that involve a lot of new people and settings.  Don't do too much on any one day, if possible- limit things to one event a day. And if at all possible- try to entertain at your house- this gives your child a safe environment where expectations are  understood.


2)Schedules tend to change A LOT this time of year. And as I am sure any parent of an autistic child will tell you, schedules and predictability are VITAL in keeping the peace. Try and keep the daily schedule as close to "normal" as possible. Have a chill out time if you can. Try and include (if and when appropriate) your kiddos in the process. Put events on a calendar just for them- then remind them as time gets closer- it helps to take the mystery out of something new- as they can get ready by watching the count down. Each morning, share that day's schedule with the kids, and only that day's schedule. Don't worry about tomorrow or next week.  Again- SOCIAL STORIES!! Can't say enough about them!

.
3)Sensory issues during the holidays - where to begin? New foods, new textures, new sounds....it can be a veritable mine field for a autistic child.  Some things that might help are Keep clothes soft and comfortable,( this is particularly hard for me as I am the "Let's get dressed up" mom). Serve a favorite at meals, or have them eat before. This is a cardinal rule in our house- nothing worse than a hungry kid -ANY kid. Don't force hello's and goodbyes- this is a chaotic time with a lot going on- forcing the issue is NOT in anyone's best interest!  Crowded malls bring out the worst in people- imagine not having the ability to filter all of the noise, touching, lights and loud people- you would meltdown too!! Try and shop without then kid - you will BOTH be better off!  

4) Make sure family and friends are well informed about your child's "quirks". What might be mistaken as obnoxious or rude behavior is more than likely just a part of your autistic child's personality. Seeing the world in black and white can be a blessing and a curse. Especially around the holidays when we might be interacting with people that we don't see often, and who may not always be on our top 10 list. Make sure guests are aware that your kid may need a break- and they are walking away without answering because they feel overwhelmed, not because they are being a brat. Or (especially in our house) the kiddo answering a question or engaging in conversation that is COMPLETELY about dinosaurs- just smile and nod- we will take care of it when it seems to be out of control. Remember, they want to be involved too- but if you ask a lot of questions that is usually a sure way to shut them down. Also- processing time is usually longer, so be patient and wait for your answer!  

5)Find ways that your kid can help to make the holidays their own. Baking, decorating, setting the table, helping with Christmas cards- be as creative as you can. This is an amazing tradition builder as well as making Christmas with Autism a good time for all. 

6) And please don't forget about US. As parents to a kiddo on the spectrum, we spend a great deal of our time keeping schedules, trying to make sure  other siblings aren't losing out on things they like as well, school issues, friend issues,  and the holiDAZE are no exception. We don't get to enjoy holiday functions and family gatherings, probably because we are trying to keep the kiddo on an even keel,so most times we just don't get to go at all. We get a little stressed, overwhelmed and lonely too. Stop by with some of those cookies the whole family got together to make- you know- that fun event we decided not to attend because our ASD kiddo is all over the place, meltdown conditions are high, and the time of evening it is at is NOT the best time for him.  Please don't assume that just because he is older, he is "better." Not how it works. For us- early signs of puberty are starting- so now we have a whole new set of challenges. Everybody is dealing with their own challenges with autism and the holiDAZE- just remember- be patient, and be kind. We really appreciate it. 

So whether it is a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah,  Happy Kwanzaa, Blessed Yule or Merry Jar of Dirt for you- I hope some of these will help.   And please- by all means wish me a Happy/Merry/Blessed  whatever- I promise not to be offended.... I will be happy you took a minute to say something nice to me. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

One pissed off white suburban mom





You know what? I really want to thank U.S. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, for pointing out that the only reason I am against Common Core is because I am a white suburban mom who has  realized my kids aren't geniuses. WHEW! Thanks for that Mr. Duncan. Here I was thinking that Common Core was a reboot of No Child Left Behind, another one size fits all set of educational standards that failed spectacularly. But clearly, as you so succinctly pointed out- it is ME who is missing the point- what with all my "helicopter mom" antics and happy ignorance of my children's poor education.  I am thrilled that you find it "“fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”  (P.S. what kind of sentence is this? Seriously- YOU are in charge of education?)

(If you haven't read the article- please read it here- I am not exaggerating or joking)

I was apparently completely wrong in thinking that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developmentally inappropriate,  micro-managing attempt to guarantee that teachers will teach to the test and attempt to turn otherwise bright, imaginative students into fact regurgitating drones that are unhappy, frustrated and worst of all- NOT LEARNING. I guess I was wrong about the fact that CCSS is a program that is paid for by billionaires, and "researched" by people who have zero educational background.  And I must have misunderstood that  states have been threatened  to implement this very flawed set of standards or lose federal funds.
And when you said "The Common Core has become a rallying cry for fringe groups that claim it is a scheme for the federal government to usurp state and local control of what students learn. An op-ed in the New York Times called the Common Core “a radical curriculum.” It is neither radical nor a curriculum. … When the critics can’t persuade you that the Common Core is a curriculum, they make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, it doesn’t, we’re not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping"  were you referring to the DOE, February 2013 report that has pictures of the exact biometric devices you are claiming you can't use? I don't know about mind control- but YOUR department put this study out. (See page 44, article 11)  I am really confused now.  This coming from the same man who said that the best thing to happen to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. WHAT THE HELL??

And I must be completely delusional to think that white suburban mom's are the only concerned parents. Apparently no other race or ethnicity or socio-economic group  is worried and angry about CCSS. And dad's well- what do they even care?  Let's not even consider special needs students who will be expected to perform right alongside their peers, regardless of ability. I mean- your goal is "preparing for a global economy" - and apparently these children, the ones with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc. etc. etc. do not fit yours and your billionaire backers molds.

My kids may not be geniuses, but they are smart. They are capable of learning- yes, even my son with Autism. I have watched my daughter work her ass off to maintain an A average. She wasn't coddled, she wasn't told she was great no matter what she did. She was, and is held to a higher standard, and her hard work and perseverance and continually good  great report cards are evidence of that. I have watched my son work hard to understand concepts, and have modified curriculum for him, to help his differently functioning brain understand concepts. I do not feel like I was "punched in the gut" by the horribly low standards my kids were being held to. Because they weren't.   But maybe that is just my "delusional" belief.


Mr. Duncan- your rude, racist, sexist remarks are disgusting and have pissed off many, many people. Not just we white suburban moms. . And YOU are in charge of our children's education? It terrifies me to think where my very intelligent children will be when they graduate if this ridiculous set of standards continues to permeate and destroy our schools. Good teachers are leaving their jobs because

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What's that holiday between Halloween and Christmas?

It's November- time for family, and being thankful, and of course time to start thinking about Christmas.... NO!!! 

This year Christmas was starting before Halloween!  I really hate that. Let me eat my turkey and pumpkin pie dammit!  Going into a store and hearing Christmas carols BEFORE Thanksgiving makes me want to punch an elf.  I know I am not alone.  As much as I love the holiday season- I really, really hate that it starts so damn early.

So in the spirit of upcoming Turkey Day- here are a couple of  Thanksgiving Carols...I am sure you can figure out the tunes on your own. Enjoy!  

A THANKSGIVING SONG

Tur-KEY roasting on an open fire,
Gravy cooking on the stove.
Thanksgiving carols being sung by a fire,
Our eyes as big as Oreos.
Everybody knows some turkey and some cranberries
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.
They know Thanks-GIHHHHVVV-ing’s on its way,
And that means lots of white and dark meat on a tray.
And every mother’s child is gonna try
To see if they can eat everything on the table and not die.
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
For kids from 1 to 92.
Although it’s been said, many times, many ways,
Merry Turkeyday
Tooooooooooooooooooooo
You.

THANKSGIVING

I’m dreaming of a Thanks-giving
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the turkeys glisten
And children listen
To hear someone at the do’.
I’m dreaming of a Thanks-giving
With every mouthful that I bite.
 May your days be merry and bright.
                                         And may all your Thanksgivings-es 
                                                        be all right.


Here's hoping that you will be singing these LOUDLY the next time you are in a store that insists on Christmas carols too damn early.  Who knows, maybe it will catch on! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

PARENTS!!! What do you know about Common Core?

*WARNING* LONG POST- BUT IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS TO READ!!!!


First of all- let me give you a brief overview of what (we are being told) Common Core is:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.http://www.corestandards.org/)


OK- sounds great, right? We all know that our education system needs to reflect the world's demands and to be relevant and successful in a global economy, right?   And thanks to No Child Left Behind- we are on our way- and Common Core is just another step to achieve these goals. 

WAIT! 
No Child Left Behind was an abysmal failure.  Underfunded, poorly administrated, it concentrated on TEACHER performance and test taking. It didn't address the very real issues of poverty, special education, overcrowded classrooms and frustrated teachers.  Schools were expected to meet AYP (annual yearly progress) with no consideration of circumstances that would affect this progress that was beyond teacher and school district control. 

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)  were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. Yes- Bill and Melinda Gates, There was little, if any  public engagement in the development of the Common Core.

This was not a grassroots initiative, nor did the ideas come from the states or from TEACHERS (who are the real innovators and push change in education). ​In fact, it was well understood by states that they would not be eligible for Race to the Top funding ($4.35 billion) unless they adopted the Common Core standards. (Education historian Diane Ravitch) So under threat of lost funding, something a majority of public schools cannot exist without- this set of fundamentally flawed, UNTESTED standards were rammed through -now in 46 states.

In the interest of looking at both sides- I can say one positive thing about CCSS. The small percentage of children who happen to move state to state won’t have to worry about getting caught up or being too far ahead of their new peers. The standards will be aligned in all of the states that have adopted them. Whoopty friggin do.

Let's talk about  developmental appropriateness. The developers and  promoters of the standards claim they are based in research. This is a lie.  For example, there is no convincing research showing that certain skills or bits of knowledge (such as counting to 100 or being able to read a certain number of words) if mastered in kindergarten will lead to later success in school. Two recent studies, one from a lab at MIT and another from U.C Berkeley  show that direct instruction can actually limit young children’s learning. At best, the standards reflect guesswork, not cognitive or developmental science. Children cannot run before they can crawl- it's as simple as that.

Teaching a child how to think critically is important- of course. But years and years of research and studies and child development models and theories have shown that their brains MUST be developed enough to even take on the kinds of things CCSS is expecting.

Take ELA in Kindergarten. These 5-6 year old children are to be writing persuasive arguments. When do they learn sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and most importantly at that young age, spelling? Sight words, counting and following directions are an integral part of the kindergarten day. Writing persuasive sentences as to why they do not want to eat their vegetables is not.

ELA is to be included in science and social studies- which in an of itself is not a problem. Cross-curricular teaching is a great way to reinforce topics. But- instead of reading classic literature by authors such as Twain, Dickens, Steinbeck, Paterson, Hinton and many  more, kids will be expected to read "informational text". Currently a 50-50 split, but looking to go 70-30 by the high school years. Informational text is an important thing to learn, sure, but the emphasis on informational text over literature is ridiculous. 

Let's take a look at the math standards under CCSS. Many of these standards require that students are  able to explain why a particular procedure works. Not inherently bad, but confusing as hell.  It's not enough for a student to be able to divide one fraction by another. They must also "use the relationship between multiplication and division to explain that (2/3) ÷ (3/4) = 8/9, because 3/4 of 8/9 is 2/3."  Forcing this higher level mathematical thinking on young children when they are not ready to learn it yet is counterproductive!  Mathematics Professor R. James Milgram of Stanford University, the only mathematician on the Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the math standards, "because they would put many students two years behind those of many high-achieving countries." For example, Algebra 1 would be taught in 9th grade, not 8th grade for many students, making calculus inaccessible to them in high school. The quality of the standards is low and not internationally benchmarked.

Now, let's look at CCSS and Special Education. Holding students, such as mine to a higher standard is also not a "bad" thing. When a student (like mine) was never given the opportunity in elementary school to learn what they are now doing in the 6th grade, when I was told he CAN'T learn (utter bullshit BTW) is subjected to these standards you know what happens?? A vicious cycle of test re-takes, misunderstood assignments, frustration, tears,and  increased anxiety. These are the things that I have to watch my child go through.  

Because CCSS standardizes all learning, it ignores any variables to the unique learning styles of the individual child. The thinking patterns of individuals with ASD are extremely different from the way in which neurotypical people think. Because of this, too much emphasis is placed on what they ‘can’t do.’ While impairments and challenges do exist, greater progress can be made teaching these individuals when parents and teachers work on building the child’s strengths and teach in a manner that is aligned with their basic pattern of thinking. Thinking in pictures, patterns, words and visually are hallmarks of the autistic mind. As Temple Grandin said, "The word thinker may be poor at drawing but have a huge memory for facts such as sports statistics or film stars." Or in The Boy's case- dinosaurs. Yet he has to consistently DRAW pictures for standards bases assessments- setting him up for failure. Common Core State Standards are untested, biased, inferior, and  detrimental to children with Autism, Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD and other alternate thinking and learning minds. 

If teachers asked themselves "Are students, all students, but especially students with disabilities, being given an ‘appropriate’ education with Common Core State Standards?"  I would fall over if any actually said "Yes."  Because they are NOT.  And when a teacher tells me "Either we use a pass/fail grading system in ELA or he just fails" my faith in educators is even more shaken than before.  

 How many parents are aware of The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) or the P20? Have you even heard these terms before? The SLDS,  is a comprehensive database compiled on each child, teacher and parent. This data is not aggregate data, it is linked specifically to the child. MY child. YOUR child. This data will follow the child through to their adult years into the workforce.  Sounds like something straight out of an Orwell novel doesn't it?  According to the United States Department of Labor, this SLDS will “Enable workforce data to be matched with education data to ultimately create longitudinal data systems with individual-level information beginning with pre-kindergarten through post-secondary schooling all the way through entry and sustained participation in the workforce and employment services system.”  This means that the public schools will be supplying the U.S. government a digital record of our children's statistics, aggregate information down to personality traits starting in kindergarten all the way through high school. And the President is already talking about an Early Learning initiative that will affect our PRESCHOOL AGE CHILDREN! 

 AND- are you sitting down for this? ALL of this data can be shared with just about anyone without parental consent thanks to the president's revisions to FERPA in 2011. Under this revision there are several different ways that all of your child's information can be shared- WITH JUST ABOUT ANYONE.  Scared yet?? If you weren't worried about the "rigorous" , developmentally inappropriate educational goals being set for your kids- how does having your kid's (and your) entire history, such as health conditions, parent voting status and political affiliations, blood type, religion, etc. make you feel? Teachers and administrators can also add notes about personality, effort and any other information they want to add. And all of this is available to just about ANYONE- without YOU consenting or hell, even KNOWING about it.  How about the use of physical devices that are slated to be used? Facial expression cameras, "posture analysis seat," "pressure mouse," and "wireless skin conductance sensor?"  These are propsed by the DOE- and you can actually see pictures of them in their February 2013 report! How's that for Orwellian? 

This invasion of privacy makes the NSA spying look like a game. Our children, that we do anything to protect, are now under the watchful eye of the U.S. Government. You have seen the news about conservative groups being targeted by the IRS, right? How about a child from a conservative family? Or a child from a liberal family, or a family who embraces an alternate religion? How will they be pigeonholed in school? What are the ramifications of this data collection on our children when they grow up and enter the workforce?  I don't know about you, but this literally makes me sick to my stomach. 

It is our job as parents to protect our children and demand they not be a part of  giant data collection project that will collect personal information and then sell it to for profit corporations. I don't know about you- but I question how the hell selling my child's personal information to corporations has any bearing on  how and what they learn? Do you really want your child TRACKED from the cradle to the grave? I would be willing to bet the answer is a resounding HELL NO! 

Parents- your voice, your input is being systematically eliminated from your child's education.  Teachers are leaving their profession because they cannot bear to "teach" in this manner. Children are anxious, overwhelmed and stressed. Parents assume that because the word "reform" is attached to all of this that it is all good.

A one size fits all attempt to standardize every school in the country is WRONG. Corporations have no business in our schools. Stand up to intrusive, doomed to fail government education "reform". Learn all you can about Common Core practices and learn about Opt Out options. This is not the future of education- it's the destruction of it.