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I remember a time when people put an effort into their marriage and commitments to one another. Divorce was unheard of many years ago. People weren’t quick to marry and just as quickly to divorce the minute a struggle presented itself to a married couple. Even more so, today many couples, married or not, have a child.

I am the last person to suggest that couples should stay together and be miserable simply for the fact that there are children involved, but I was recently having a discussion with a woman I had met at an event. While we chatted over wine, I had mentioned I had done some work helping fathers seek equal rights when it came to parenting. She seemed shocked and a little appalled. She actually asked if this was true. Were more fathers actually fighting for equal rights?  For the first time in a long time, I was speechless. It made me think, since when did it become ok to treat fathers like sperm donors and paychecks, and not ok to help them fight for equal rights? Since when was it ok to have a mother dictate the amount of time a father gets with their child?  When did it become difficult for a father to fight for fathers' rights?  Then the ultimate question came to my head; since when did a father have to fight for those rights in the first place?  Why isn’t he given those same rights from the birth of the child just like a mother is given?Photo: ancpr.com

I have been on both sides of children involved in the court system. I have seen the ugly and the good. My husband, for example, is a dedicated father to two children who loves and supports the both of them. He had to jump through rings of fire and back in order to get joint custody and a fair child support arrangement. His story is similar to many fathers out there: fighting for a right to be in the children’s lives and not getting the equal chance.  

I too am a mother, and I understand the bond that mothers share by carrying that child for nine months and the pain and agony of delivering that same child. I have heard many mothers speak about the bond they share with the child by being able to be pregnant and how fathers don’t go through what they go through in order to bring a child into this world. Here is a reality check ladies: it’s not their choice that they do not get to carry and deliver. It was life’s decision for females to have the strength and design for child creating and birthing. Why make such statements as if the man chooses for us to have the children? Did we forget it is physically impossible for them to do so?  Why hold it against them? Seems kind of silly to me and a poor argument. Let’s also not forget the fact that without fathers, there would be no children.  Remember that saying it takes two to tango? A father has just an equal right to a child as the mother.  

I’m sure many woman are gritting their teeth in anger or disbelief with the last sentence. If you are, ask yourself this question. Are you holding resentment towards your child’s father?  Maybe he was the one who ended the relationship? Maybe he was not a good husband or life partner? Did you ever think that he may not have been the best in the relationship department, but maybe he is an A-plus of a father?  Stop using your resentment to punish him. How does that affect the child? By using resentment and by keeping a good father away from their child, you are not protecting that child, you are hurting them.    

Our society needs to realize that fathers are not just every other weekend babysitters and paychecks. They are influential and essential to the upbringing of children. Yes, unfortunately you have those fathers who do not express an interest in sharing the responsibilities of raising a child, but must all fathers be punished for so few? If that’s the case then all single mothers must be deemed as drama-filled, money hungry individuals.

That moment that you decided to give life to a human being, you made a pact with life to put your needs aside and do what was in the best interest of this life. You agreed to mold and grow this new life with every best interest in mind. This did not mean to exclude the other half that contributed to the coming of this life. Fathers are fifty percent contributors making them equal to women in the making of this life. So we as women need to get off our high horse and come back down to reality. Give the fathers the rights they deserve and stop holding up the court system with the constant need to take a father for every penny he has.  

To those fathers who are fighting the battle every day to have a relationship they deserved from the very beginning, I stand before you, as a mother and wife and a woman and I applaud you for your dedication and commitment in being a father. There was a time where women did not have equal rights and it was through our own perseverance and dedication that we finally received the rights we tirelessly fought for. You too will get the rights you unfortunately have to fight for.  A right that, by Mother Nature, you shouldn’t have to fight for. That little being you fight for will one day realize and appreciate the fight.  

Ladies, how about we put down the shields and swords and sign the peace treaty for every father. It’s bound to happen and you can either be a positive contributing factor to this movement or a negative factor fueling the fire. It is your choice. Many questions are asked in this article, and I hope those who are truly sitting and asking themselves the questions find the right answers.

Karen Stebbins is a mom of four and wife of a loving husband who shares her love of sports (or else she wouldnt have said yes). Karen is an experienced paralegal and freelance writer on a variety of topics. Sports is her passion and her love of the game is undeniable.



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You may have seen reports in the news media recently, highlighting the efforts of celebrity moms like Jennifer Garner and Beyoncé, who are rallying together to ban the word “bossy.”

They argue the word can limit the capabilities of girls, making leadership characteristics appear negative. Since then, LeanIn.org has partnered with the Girl Scouts of America on the “Ban Bossy” public service campaign. You can read more at http://www.banbossy.com.

Although I never really considered the implications of using the word, I’m in agreement and happy this conversation has been started. As I thought about it, the only time I’ve really ever heard “bossy” associated with a male was when my four-year-old called my dad “bossy” last week during a disagreement involving play dough.  I challenged myself to pay more attention, realizing the word is almost exclusively associated with females, whether in pre-school or in their adult years.Photo: ahchealthenews.com

Thinking back to when my oldest daughter was in kindergarten and I attended my first parent-teacher conference of her grade school career, I was told that she can be, at times, “bossy.”  I was quietly elated, only expressing my excitement upon returning home and relaying the story to family members. I was grateful my daughter had found her way in school and wasn’t being pushed around. What could be wrong with that?

I may have even felt a certain vindication that I had done something right. After all, this was the daughter who head-butted us when she didn’t get her way at 11-months of age. At five, she was on her way to becoming a self-assured little girl. She became known as the creator of all-girls clubs on the playground during recess. At a time when I didn’t know other parents’ names at birthday parties and school events, I would introduce myself as her mom.  On one such occasion another mom replied:  “Oh, yes, she’s the one who’s started the clubs.” At this young age, she had already made herself heard and known in her little world.

Although proud, I still talked to my daughter about the consequences of being overly aggressive, explaining that being a leader is good, but being fair and inclusive is also pretty important. I suggested that she start admitting boys to her recess club, and she agreed that made sense.

Erasing an adjective, as metaphorically as the cause may be, raises awareness but requires more from parents.  The “bossy” conversation needs some context, while we also highlight characteristics—not just words—that leaders should possess.

After all, as little girls grow, we don’t want those leadership skills to go awry. Could leadership behaviors we know to be very valuable turn into bullying? I believe parents can provide a lot of guidance here, fostering their young daughters to become leaders who also stand up for others, possibly even bringing dissimilar groups together. Being a leader is not mutually exclusive of being—simply as it may seem—nice.

Whatever words are used, there are actions that may be more reflective of that negative connotation that bossy brings. Young girls should be taught to pursue their goals with fervor. Yet, let’s face it, people who are unrelenting in any quest for self-gain may alienate others. Any well-thought, long-term strategy for success should be based on building relationships, forming bonds with others and achieving trust. Compromise is part of that equation. Let’s encourage young girls to be forthright, confident and also receptive to others’ feelings and opinions.

I’m grateful the celebrity moms started this conversation, even if they didn’t quite tell the entire story. Girls should be applauded for exhibiting leadership qualities without undermining the necessity of other skills—adaptability, empathy and objectivity. Real leaders listen to others, learn to assess the best ways of handling situations and manage these behaviors compassionately.

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: ahchealthenews.com





Diana Torralvo

(215) 893-4287 office




Local nonprofits join together for MUSIC video

highlighting good work taking place in Camden

The Goodness Project will feature locals through its own “HAPPY” video production


CAMDEN, N.J. (March 21, 2014) – Inspired by the popular music video for Pharrell Williams’ Oscar-nominated song "Happy,” staffers and volunteers from 12 local nonprofits will be featured in their own music video to express their own happiness about working in Camden as part of The Goodness Project, whose aim is to promote all the “good” works that nonprofits are doing in the often-maligned city of Camden.


"The video is not about what we are doing as much as it is about who we help,” said Lauren White, development director for the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey, who is serving as one of the organizers for the Goodness Project.The video will be released just before the Easter holiday – on Good Friday. We hope it goes viral to shine a light on the good work happening in Camden.”


Under the direction of three-time Emmy® nominated producer Steve Acito, who resides in Haddon Heights, New Jersey and owns Bluewire Media, the video production will take place on Thursday, April 3rd, in Camden at various nonprofits whose work ranges from caring for families affected by cancer, to inspiring youth, to feeding the hungry and more.


Acito is teaming up with Steadicam operator David Schwartz of Haddonfield and are both donating their talents to help film the project. Schwartz has more than 28 years of production experience including the 2004 feature film The Woodsman and the NBC television series Do No Harm. Drexel University's Film & Video Department is also donating several staff members and some additional equipment to assist in the production process.   


Among the participating nonprofits are: Boys & Girls Club Camden, Cathedral Kitchen, Camden’s Children’s Garden, Camden Sophisticated Sisters, Camden CYCLE Program, Cramer Hill Little League, Guadalupe Family Services, Hopeworks, Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey, The Salvation Army, Settlement Music School, Taps Drumline, and Urban Promise





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The Delaware Valley Stroke Council (DVSC) held its 18th annual Stars for Stroke Gala on March 15th at the Sheraton Society Hill in Philadelphia and raised $150,000 to continue its community advocacy and stroke awareness programs. This black tie affair also honored stroke survivors, caregivers, doctors and those dedicated to reducing the incidence and impact of stroke, which is the third leading cause of death and number one cause of adult disability.


Most notably, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council honored Congressman Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania’s second congressional district with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his career-long dedication to neuroscience research. In 2011, Congressman Fattah commissioned the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative; an innovative, non-incremental policy effort seeking to achieve groundbreaking progress in understanding the human brain and neurological conditions like stroke.


In addition to honoring Congressman Fattah, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council recognized Dr. John Roussis, physician liaison for JeffSTAT Medical Transportation Services with a Volunteer of the Year Award for his unwavering dedication to the DVSC.  Roger and Peggy Myers received a Stroke Survivor and Caregiver of the Year Award for their relentless perseverance against all odds. The Delaware Valley Stroke Council’s own Medical Advisory Board, which consists of a 30 member team and includes many of the area’s finest stroke care physicians, was presented a Special Recognition Award for providing expertise on stroke and the latest healthcare trends.


Founded in 1995 by Toby Mazer, whose late husband, Dr. Howard Mazer, was a stroke survivor of nearly two decades, the DVSC works to provide advocacy for area stroke survivors and raise awareness of stroke symptoms. “Someone dies from a stroke nearly every 3 minutes in the U.S., but sadly, very few people know the symptoms of stroke,” Mazer said. “To help individuals identify stroke, we developed the F.A.S.T. acronym, meaning the face must be observed for a droopy smile, raised arms checked for a downward drift and speech monitored for slurring. If any of these conditions persist, then time is of the essence to call 911 because the person is suffering a stroke.”


Along with raising awareness of stroke symptoms, the DVSC helps individuals access high quality stroke care. “Our mission is to help stroke survivors and caregivers navigate the complex healthcare system so they can fully focus their efforts on recovering,” Mazer said. “Additionally, we partner with hospitals and rehabilitation centers to ensure that state-of-the-art stroke care is available to everyone in the region.”


To volunteer with the Delaware Valley Stroke Council and learn more about additional upcoming events, visit http://www.phillystroke.org/.


Congressman Chaka Fattah, Helene Katz, administrative assistant for Delaware Valley Stroke Council, Cameron Fattah, Renee Chenault-Fattah, Chandler Fattah, Honey Zozofsky, executive director for Delaware Valley Stroke Council. Credit: HughE Dillon.

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 Toby Mazer, founder of the Delaware Valley Stroke Council with Volunteer of the Year recipient John Roussis Credit: HughE Dillon.

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 Dr. Guy Fried presenting Congressman Fattah with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Credit: HughE Dillon.  

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Maria Jabbour and Dr. Pascal Jabb


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No gala in Philadelphia is complte without a Mummers appearance 

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In the fall of 2007, Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” made him an international symbol of strength and hope. Dr. Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, already well known for his captivating lectures, was dying from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Pausch continued his insightful lectures in this phase sharing his stories with others about living life with childlike wonder.  Although he was hesitant about taking away precious time from his family, he knew this would be a way of video cataloging wisdom for his three young children. In fact, his video has been viewed by millions online.Photo: www.wisdomportal.com

I remember listening to Pausch during that time, and his words moved me to tears. Years later, I can vividly recall how he spoke so endearingly of his parents—telling a story of how they allowed him to paint on his bedroom walls.

“Anybody out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let them do it. It’ll be OK,” said Pausch, whose lecture was also published into a book.

Dr. Pausch passed away in July 2008 at the age of 47, yet his words echoed in my mind recently when I overheard parents discussing some of the messy inconveniences of having young children. Believe me, I’m part of that group, too. As parents, many of us can relate to spilled paint, balls of dried up play dough caked in the carpet or hundreds of Lego pieces scattered across the floor. On those days, it may serve us some solace to keep Pausch in the forefront of our thoughts.

It’s not easy. I still have delusions of my house looking like a spread in the Pottery Barn catalog. With three young children, the piles of clutter certainly add up. Lately, I’m finding scraps of paper everywhere, and pens and crayons in their bedrooms—usually forbidden by their dad and me. So when I recently found a paper with the messy scribbling of my son’s attempt at writing his first name, I stared at it. How was it possible that this little person--who it seems like just yesterday was learning to feed himself and sit up--was now writing his name?

When your children are in school or quietly napping, you may notice a note, drawing or painting that one of them did, and it will probably melt your heart, too. When things are quiet in my house, I look at these items and realize that my children created them with no instruction, or any preconceived ideas of what constitutes good art. They tapped their own budding creativity, paving the path for their brains to make bigger decisions in the future.

See, Dr. Pausch really got what life was about. The material things are nice, and most of us enjoy the idea of a well-decorated home, with all of its pretty accompaniments, but Pausch knew that experiences are what matter most. He never forgot how his parents, despite a fairly conservative upbringing, allowed him to be himself, expressing the creativity that would later earn him a Ph.D. His childhood memories survived this time of battling cancer, giving him a happy respite to share with others. All those years later, he remembered how his parents truly understood him.

Let your children paint and mix the colors of the play dough. Let them take walks in the backyard while it’s raining. Let them build a habitat for a slug. The memories they will give your children in the years to come are worth the minor inconveniences they pose today. It will be OK.


Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: wisdomportal.com

If you’re an everyday Philadelphian, chances are you’ve taken SEPTA. The guide below, which was made by a gentleman named Mike Simmons, pretty much sums it up.

 Let us know if you agree!

Attribution: www.centercityteam.com

The Unofficial SEPTA Etiquette Guide



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Without a doubt, children ask some provocative questions. Innately a curious person by nature, I don’t mind the challenge when my children interrogate me on a number of subjects. Sometimes I’ll admit though, it’s hard to explain situations that are far from their reality.

Here’s a scenario I certainly never anticipated. My eight-year-old daughter is somewhat fascinated with HGTV’s “House Hunters.” So recently when flipping through the channels to try to catch an episode, we happened upon the TLC network’s “Sister Wives” instead. Insert gulp here.

“Oh, you probably won’t be interested in that show,” I say. “What is it?” she asks. I tersely tell her it’s about polygamy—a word I know she’s never heard. Surely she’ll learn about it in a Sociology class in college, in about ten years from now. Photo: www.anglican-mainstream.net

So my attempt at an explanation goes something like this. “Polygamy is a marriage where someone can have more than two spouses. In this case, the man has several wives.”

I say it without judgment or emotion. As a Sociology minor in college, I learned about lots of other cultures, religions, and ideologies. I want my children to live in a household that teaches acceptance and broadens their world view, but this is one I found a stretch to explain in a way that would make sense to a child.

She furrows her eyebrows and laughs, uttering this question: “So then who’s the mommy of the children?”

I haven’t had enough coffee for this conversation, yet I take another crack at enlightening her.

“Well, the actual, biological mom is the one who gave birth to the baby, but the other ‘moms’ help out.”

I begin to ponder the arrangement myself and wonder if, as monogamists, we’re the oddballs. Clearly, raising three children and tending to numerous household tasks could go more smoothly with a few other bodies in the home.

I keep these strayed thoughts to myself, knowing I simply did my best to explain a lifestyle that is downright foreign to her. I know I have the best of intentions as her mom, her first teacher.

The truth is, many conversations we’ll have with our children will be awkward. Some topics are categorically difficult for them to understand. Waiting for a child’s inquiry is probably better than providing information he or she isn’t ready to digest. A child’s age and maturity level can matter a lot in these circumstances.

The obvious areas many children question—death, illnesses or natural disasters—clearly aren’t the only subjects that may prompt questions. Lifestyle, family and social/economic differences surround us every day. Children may ask why their friends received high-priced electronic gadgets for the holidays when they didn’t. It’s important for children to learn that families have different rules, different budgets and different commitments.

Most experts agree that simple explanations work best. Yet simple explanations are often hard when a child’s frame of reference is so different from what he or she views.

Parents may want to follow these steps when their children ask difficult questions:


Test the Waters: Find out what a child already knows about the subject you’re discussing. Children hear a lot other places, such as school.


Be honest: Asking questions often takes a lot of courage for a child. Make sure you earn your child’s trust by giving accurate information.

Keep it simple: Avoid complex information and details, as they could be confusing or overwhelming to a child.

I’m thankful now that I had an opportunity to have this unique conversation with my daughter. I watched her expression as she put her faith in me for clarity on something bewildering to her young mind. This open communication brought us even closer, a step I know will be extremely important for parenting her in the years ahead.

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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1st Annual Philly Sports Roast tickets still available!


Terrell Owens is coming back to Philadelphia.


We never thought we’d see the day, but on Thursday, February 20th 2014, the former Eagles wide receiver will do just that at the first annual Philly Sports Roast at The Crystal Tea Room (100 E. Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19107)


Do you think he can handle it? How bad will it get? It’s all unscripted and completely random. Anything can happen! Join Philadelphia personalities as well as former athletes in all the fun!

There’s tickets still available to this event in several packages. For more details and information on the guests, click here!

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I’ve got an ugly breakup story. This lamentable and somewhat awkward occasion reaped me with anxiety for several weeks back in 2009. But I’m not referring to the broken heart of a woman scorned, as this tale is unlike most.

When my oldest daughter was attending afternoon preschool she became fast friends with a similarly sparky girl in her class. The two were the tallest girls in their class, both with big, bright eyes and pretty, bouncy curls.

Drawn to each other like magnets, I jumped at the opportunity for them to play together regularly. Watching them traverse the monkey bars or set up imaginary tea parties for their dolls was delightful.Photo: familyfunmom.blogspot.com

At the time, I had a newborn and a one-year-old, so my daughter’s new-found companionship had an incredible benefit when, graciously, her little friend’s mother offered to host my daughter once-a-week so the girls could pass the time playing together before school. I was grateful she had this time with a peer, away from her slobbering siblings who were consuming most of my time with nursing and diaper changes.

One day, it all went wrong, unbeknownst to me. I didn’t find out until a few days later, at preschool pickup time when all the moms mingle in the hallway, exchanging smiles and waves. Lugging my infant son in a car seat carrier with my toddler daughter underfoot, I saw the little girl’s mom, seemingly avoiding me.

I walked over to chat. “I need to talk to you,” she said. Not sure what to expect, I knew by the look on her face she had serious business to unload. Was she was going to confide in me about some terminal illness? Had she performed the Heimlich on my daughter during lunch? I couldn’t help but imagine the worst.

Although I was a mom of three, I still had a lot of unchartered waters to navigate. I barely had little more than four years’ experience as a parent. I was an expert at breastfeeding positions, diaper changing in the dark and taking food out of the oven with a baby slung to my torso. Yet, I couldn’t anticipate what I can only now refer to as the bizarre, idiosyncratic behavior of another parent.

Not terminally ill after all, this mom told me how my child requested that she and her daughter play doctor, out of her sight. The coups de grace: my daughter had successfully persuaded her friend to remove her shirt. I started to laugh, waiting for the mom to join me. Instead I was met with bemused silence, and then the curt reply: “I think the girls shouldn’t play together.”

How could something so illogical occur? These girls were four-years-old, and with all my relative inexperience as a parent, I was certain that my daughter couldn’t be a pedophile.

Common sense prevailed. She was a child, engaging innocently in pretend play. Yet she was vilified for copying behavior she simply witnessed when we visited the pediatrician. Having a baby brother who was less than three-months-old, she had tagged along with us on more than a few visits, where the nurse always made this request: “undress him down to his diaper, and I’ll be in to weigh and measure him.”

I can understand and respect any parent being concerned about two children playing alone. Parents are protectors, and young children need to be supervised for a myriad of reasons. I later learned the mom was on Facebook at the time of this incident. Why didn’t she simply say “no” when my daughter made this request? Was she even paying attention?

At the time, I also blamed myself. Had I been too willing to let my daughter go on this weekly outing, with the obvious benefit of convenience to me? What if she had gotten hurt while playing out of another parent’s sight?

My daughter didn’t understand why she never played with her favorite friend anymore. I could not hide my abhorrence of the situation, and I could barely feign cordiality with the mom. My child was broken-hearted, and I was infuriated.

With time and perspective, I learned a lot from this unfortunate breakup. Children will grow and develop their sense of selves while being exposed to many different people throughout the course of their lives. I certainly didn’t want my daughter to have shame for her body, so I did my very best to minimize discussion on the issue. Sadly, this mother’s quest to shield her daughter from what I’m still unsure, destroyed a beautifully blossoming friendship between two young, sweet girls.

In the years since, I’ve managed to steer clear of overreacting and overly distracted parents, and my children have only played doctor with each other, fully clothed.

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: familyfunmom.blogspot.com

By coincidence, I recently witnessed a public meeting of Chester County against Common Core, a grassroots organization aiming to educate the county’s citizens about Common Core and what the group believes to be the intrinsic problems of the plan.

Common Core refers to the Common Core State Standards, an initiative coordinated by the National Governors Association and recently renamed the PA Core Standards. The intention of the program is to enact national control of K-12 educational standards to which assessments and curriculum will be tied.

The initiative has drawn controversy because of the shift of power from local school boards and parents, to federal control. Also, say the group’s representatives, educators can’t agree whether these standards—publicized as preparing children for the global marketplace upon graduation—are actually more or less rigorous than existing state standards.

Then there’s the fiscal component, where Pennsylvania’s implementation of Common Core could incur significant costs for taxpayers, they say. Both sides of the political fence—conservatives and liberals—have expressed opposition. The group also says the Pennsylvania Department of Education didn’t provide a complete fiscal analysis of Common Core, as requested by Pennsylvania legislators.

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Education may refute these arguments, but some parents’ outrage for this is evident throughout the country, not just in Pennsylvania. YouTube videos of public meetings where parents and educators have made their opinions known are widely circulating online. The biggest concern, they agree, is for the children who will essentially be trying out this program before any real measure of its success has been revealed. Some say the standards are simply nothing more than guesswork.Photo: blog.acton.org

A friend recently posted on Facebook a photo of her child’s homework, with illustrations of money where children are required to add the values of coins. Such an example is an age-appropriate skill second graders, but it’s speculated that under Common Core this may be a required skill for kindergarteners.

Some are already experiencing the effects of Common Core, which started being implemented in Pennsylvania last July.

“I knew something was wrong when my third grader started to come home with math homework that I found confusing, chaotic and developmentally inappropriate,” says Susan Buzin, a resident in the Downingtown Area School District.

The problem was compounded, says Buzin, when she couldn’t help her son. “He kept telling me that the way I was doing simple addition and subtraction was wrong. I was upset that we parents were not told that this fundamental change to our education system was taking place. ”

On its face, Common Core’s aim to prepare students for greater success in college and careers is positive. Proponents of Common Core say students should use higher levels of thinking, not just rote memorization, in subject areas like math. However, the massive execution and communication of these vague standards, including their one-size-fits-all approach, may be causing the most frustration for parents, teachers and even legislators.

Another integral problem with Common Core—purportedly backed by private corporations and foundations, namely the Gates Foundation—is that citizens will not even be able to file Freedom of Information Act requests to learn who actually wrote these standards.

Some educators remain baffled.

"The people who wrote these standards do not appear to have any background in child development or early childhood education,” wrote Stephanie Feeney, Chair of the Advocacy Committee of the  National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, after her review of these standards.

Joanne Yurchak, a retired teacher and member of the Chester County group, has conveyed her worries, pointing to what’s currently happening in her grandsons’ Algebra I classes in a middle school in Delaware County.


“The teacher functions as a facilitator, presenting a topic to the class for about 10 to 15 minutes.  For the remainder of the class period, students are given problems to solve among themselves in groups.  Unfinished problems are taken home for help from their parents, which in itself is problematic because they have no books, only worksheets,” says Yurchak.


Other parents, like Buzin and Yurchak, fear that Common Core will cause an excessive focus on assessments and testing, putting unnecessary stress on students. They, like many, still feel like they’re in the dark about Common Core’s overall implications.


Here’s what we do know. The Pa. State Board of Education adopted federally controlled Common Core State Standards in Math and English on July 1, 2010, with an effective date of July 1, 2013. In May 2013, Gov. Corbett issued a temporary stay of new state board Common Core regulations, and on the same day the Pa. Dept. of Education announced that the July 1, 2013, implementation date would remain in effect. 


For more information, visit Chester County against Common Core on Facebook, or go to www.whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com. You can also send an e-mail to nocommoncoreinpa@yahoo.com for links to articles and videos about Common Core.



Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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