July - September, 2013

The Education News Blog will inform you of stories about public education, homeschooling and news concerning developmental disabilities such as autism and Asperger's.

In this issue, you will find these stories:

September, 2013

Actress Once Diagnosed with Autism

The i-pad Give Away Debacle

Is Obama's Race to the Top a Failure?

Celebrity Phone Messages

Schools Obligated to Honor IEP's

Act of Kindness

Spectrum ER Visitors Find Less Stress

August, 2013

Amazon.com features artists with Special Needs

Transgender Bathroom Bill

July, 2013

New Clothing Line for Down Syndrome Women


The source of these stories are from One News Now or Disability Scoop unless otherwise stated.


Actress Once Diagnosed with Autism

What actress once dated John F. Kennedy Jr. and starred in a movie with Tom Hanks?  Here’s a hint:   she starred in Splash and Wall Street.  Do you know who it is?


Daryl Hannah, now 52, recently disclosed to Disability Scoop that she had been diagnosed with autism when she was a young girl.  She said she suffered from shyness because of that diagnosis.  Hannah had the tell tale signs of autism; incessant rocking and “zoning out” in school.


The doctors told her mother to medicate her and institutionalize her.  Something her mother refused to do.  At 17, Hannah moved to California because of her desire to star in movies.  Movies had become Ms. Hannah’s way of coping with her diagnosis.


Fortunately, Hannah was able to hide her autistic diagnosis from producers.  Even though she had success on the silver screen, she says she was never comfortable with fame which is one reason she doesn’t attend premiers or does talk shows.


It is because of talent and people like Daryl Hannah that I fight for students who might be a little different from most of the students.  It is the unique students, the ones who don't quite fit the mold that add flavor to our lives.

We need to remember that EVERYONE is a unique individual that God created and not everyone is going to fit into the round hole that the schools have determined every child should fit in.

The i-Pad Giveaway Debacle

How smart are our kids?  Ask the Los Angeles, California school district.  Students were able to hack into the firewall within a week of the $30 million i-pad give away for all students.  This is all part of the Common Core implementation.

How did the school district find out that students from three different high schools had figured out how to get around the secure measures?  The students posted on Twitter, Facebook and other social media about  their accomplishments.

The school district took measures to have locks on the i-pads to keep the students from using them for fun and frolic!  Even though the LA school district spent untold amount of dollars on teacher training, many teachers still hadn’t figured out how to sync the i-pad with academics in the classroom. So was the $30 million that was spent on the i-pads worth it? It was to the company that supplied these technological devices.

Whose supplying these i-pads at a cost of $678 per i-pad?  Pearson, one of the very few (less than 5) companies that have been commissioned to develop Common Core Standards and testing, is selling these computers to the LA school district at about $200 ABOVE the standard cost. 


This story is only one of many that shows how taxpayer money is being spent for something that has not even be tried.  Common Core Standards is not a proven system yet many states are spending millions to see it implemented.  Is this how you want your tax money spent?  IF NOT, contact your congressman today!  Put a stop to this unproven mandate before it gets fully implemented.

Is Obama's Race to the Top a Failure?

A study by the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education campaign has stated that they believe that Obama's Race to the Top is a failure.

The Race to the Top was created in 2009 by President Obama as his all to end all education reforms.  This $4 Billion initiative was Obama's idea to end No Child Left Behind.

Obama pressured states to adopt the new education reform, Common Core Standards, by stating that they could forgo NCLB if they adopted these National Standards.  If they adopted the Common Core, the Common Core curriculum and the Common Core tests, than they would be eligible to receive some of the $4 billion in Race to the Top money.

48 states opted to adopt these national standards called Common Core Standards even before anyone knew what those standards were.  As it turned out, only 11 states received this Race to the Top money.


You do the math!! That meant that these states got hundreds of millions of dollars each while all of the other states received NO FUNDING!

You can see more on the Common Core page.

Celebrity Phone Messages

Autism Speaks is offering customized phone messages.  For a donation of only $299, a contributor can chose from a list of 10 celebrities and can specify what they want the message to say.

Some of the celebrities participating in this year's fundraiser for Autism Speaks are:  Cher, Ed Asner (creator of the campaign), "Batman" Adam West, actor Jack Black, Jim Parsons also known as Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory and others.

Ed Asner said this is like a "voiceathon" fundraiser for Autism Speaks.  It was such a success last year that the foundation decided to offer this unique fundraiser again.

Watch the video below to see who else is available to record your special message made just for you.

Grab your voice mail message at Autism Speaks.

Schools Obligated to Honor IEP's

Officials from the US Department of Education; Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for the Education Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and Melody Musgrove, director of the Office of Special Education Programs, sent a letter to state directors of special education notifying them that the school districts have an obligation to honor IEP's for children who move from district to district within the state or those that transfer from other states.

Officials stated that under IDEA that children who move into a new school district are entitled to the services that they had been receiving at the prior school.  The new school must adopt the current IEP and/or a comparable service UNTIL a new IEP can be put in place.

Act of Kindness

A mystery diner honored a family with a kind note and paid for a families dinner.

Ashley England, China Grove, NC, went out to dinner with her family Friday night and received an "Act of Kindness" from an anonymous stranger.  The note said, "God Only Gives Special Children to Special People."  What prompted the note?

8 year old Riley England was acting up and threw a (cell) phone and hitting the table and getting very loud thus annoying several other customers.  Riley suffers from a rare form of epilepsy.  He has been non-verbal since he was 18 months old due to as many as 100 seizures a day.

Ms. England said that the kindness shown to her made her cry.  She went on to say, "To have someone do that small act towards us shows that some people absolutely understand what we are going through and how hard it is to face the public sometimes. I felt like out of all the rude negative comments that we are faced with--these outweighs them."

"Little did he know what struggles we had been facing lately and this was surely needed at that moment."


I've often heard, "Don't judge me until you walk in my shoes!" Sometimes I forget about other people's struggles and only care about my own comfort, especially when I'm out in a crowd.  I have learned something from this story and I hope you did too.

Photo courtesy of Ashley England

I learned that I need to be more tolerant of disturbances such as these and even follow the example of this stranger by paying for an extra meal.  Now this is something I could be tolerate towards and not feel like my rights were being threatened.

See more of the story at WBTV

Spectrum ER Visitors Find Less Stress

Dr. Arvind Venkat at the Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania joined Indiana University of Pennsylvania professors Joann Migyanka, Jeffrey Fratangeli and Susan Glor-Scheib to develop a DVD and a manual to help ER clinicians to better deal with patients who are on the spectrum.

Ms. Migyanka taught autistic children for 10 years before becoming a faculty member at IUP.  She said more professionals in the field need to become acquainted with people on the Autism Spectrum.  People on the spectrum have less communicative skills and social skills and places such as the ER are very distrubing to them.

“That first wave, who were children when we started to see the rise of autism, are becoming adults. They are in the community. They’re accessing health care just like any other adult or adolescent,” Migyanka said, adding that people with autism can become combative if restrained or approached briskly.

“First-responders and ER personnel have their protocols, and they are all about getting it done. But you have to approach a person with autism much more slowly, with words they can understand,” she said.

The DVD and training manual will have a list of symptoms and signs to help them recognize that the patient may be on the spectrum.

AUGUST, 2013

Transgender Bathroom Bill

Have you heard about the “transgender bathroom bill”?  This month California signed into law a bill that will allow any student, K-12, to decide what facilities and activities of the gender they identify with. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

This includes what restroom they want to use based on their conceived idea of what their own gender is not their biological makeup. It also pertains to any sports activity the student wants to participate in even if the sport is a gender specific sport and that student is of the opposite gender.

In other words, a guy who says he identifies with the female and wants to be considered a female can now use the “girls” restroom at school.   Or a girl who identifies with a male can now play football and use the locker room when the “guys” are using it.

Students don't even need a doctor's statement in order to say that they "identify with the other gender".  The school does not need any documentation that states the student is undergoing a gender change.  The student can self-identify themselves and will be able to use whatever restroom they want and to participate in sports opposite of their biological gender.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, has stated that this law jeopardizes the privacy of other students.  Tim Donelly, a lawmaker, has stated that his sons will no longer go to public school.

Dacus also stated, “We…stand ready and willing to defend anyone who will be victimized as a result of this new law.  That includes someone whose privacy rights are violated in the bathroom, in the locker room, in the showers, or someone who is prevented from playing on a sports team because someone from the opposite gender took their place.” 

Pacific Justice Institute has filed a referendum against this new bill.  They will have to collect  over 500,000 signatures within the next 90 days in order to place this issue on the 2014 ballot.  

Amazon Features Special Needs Artists

Amazon announced that it would include art from DAC Gallery, in Los Angeles in its new section called Amazon Art. DAC Gallery is one of about 150 top galleries in the nation that Amazon picked to feature in their new art section.

DAC Gallery represents many talented artists.  One hundred of these artists have a developmental disability.  Some of the artists being shown at the DAC Gallery have shown their work at the prestigious places such as the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center and other such venues.  

from the DAC Gallery news release

The DAC Gallery is currently featuring works from the Exceptional Children's Foundation, a non-profit foundation which mentors adult artists with special needs.

Allen Terrell, the director of the Exceptional Children's Foundation's art centers said that they have strived hard to create a professional level art program for their participants. He says, "Being selected to participate in the launch of the Amazon Art Program is a testament to us reaching that goal."

You may want to check out the more than 500 original pieces of art that DAC Gallery offers.

JULY, 2013


Ashley by Design is a new clothing line made especially for girls and women that have Down Syndrome.  The clothing will make its debut next week at the National Down Syndrome Congress in Denver.  Ashley by Design’s creator is Ashley DeRamus, a 30 year women with Down’s Syndrome.  Ashley and her mother have been working on the clothing line for about a year.

Connie DeRamus, Ashley’s mother, said that women with Down’s Syndrome want to feel pretty just like all other girls.  Women with DS find it almost impossible to find clothes that fit their body style. DS women have a smaller torso, shorter legs and are usually pudgy in the hips and stomach areas as compared to the average girl or woman. They either have to buy clothes and then pay to have them altered or wear what they buy even if the clothes fit poorly.

Connie said that when she talked to other mothers who had a daughter with Downs, they also were discouraged about how clothes didn’t fit. Ashley hopes to change this ill fitting trend in clothing with her line.  Ashley by Design features hip clothes, stylish with bright colors, designs that include dresses and tunics with leggings. 

Ashley isn’t someone who gives up!  In fact, she has always exercised and stayed fit by swimming.  Ashley has over 40 medals for swimming.  With that kind of perseverance, Ashley will, no doubt, succeed!

Ashley lives in Hoover, AL.  This story was reported by WBRC TV on July 12, 2013 by Melanie Posey


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