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I returned to Austin to present my petition that I have been working on. The petition would require elected and appointed officials be required to take the STAAR test. I was encouraged by the conversation and tone our senators were taking. Then the Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams, an attorney, gave his testimony. I found his statements disappointing, troubling and unproductive. Primarily, because of his complete lack of ownership in the test his department developed. His audacity to quickly lay the blame for the high failure rates solely at the feet of our educators and children was shocking.
This highlighted the adversarial role between our educators and the TEA and reinforced my conviction to see this unproductive relationship dismantled. Think how beneficial the STAAR test could be if we demanded its results were used to target the needs of students, teachers and schools. I was once one of those kids that would've had trouble with these tests. I was given a diagnostic test that determined I have dyslexia. That test did not punish me or my teacher for my disability; it got me the help I so desperately needed. I’m eternally grateful for the educational gift I was given.
What I said before the Texas Senate Education Committee:
An account has been set up for Mr. Freed, by some friends of the Freeds. The person heading this up is George Gober, long time resident of Lewisville. The money will be used strictly for Freed's court costs, attorney fees, defense investigators, and anything pertaining to his cost for defending himself. Those wanting to contribute can go to Ciera Bank in Flower Mound, 1801 Cross Timbers Rd. Make out checks to the Defense Fund for Brian Freed. any questions you can call Mr. Gober at 972-977-0618 and he will gladly answer any questions.
Most people know the power of words and yet still use them in devastating ways to destroy reputations, futures, and families. This has been done to Brian Freed by reports in this publication.
While this letter is not about me, I need to tell why I feel qualified to speak out. I have known Brian Freed since he was my student at Hedrick Middle School a number of years ago. I taught in the Lewisville Independent School District for over twenty years, spending time as department chairman at three middle schools and being recognized as Teacher of the Year for the district in 1991-92. I have been appointed to and served on four Denton County Grand Juries as well as serving on various civic boards and committees. I have taught adult Bible study on both Sundays and Tuesdays at First Baptist Church of Lewisville for many years also. I include this information only as evidence that most people consider me to be a reliable citizen.
I have recently been disturbed by words used as character assassination against my former student and friend, Brian Freed. I have known him from his years as a boy to those as a man to be a person of integrity. In his student years, he was admired by both students and teachers. On one occasion, the teachers were asked to choose a student to be a representative from Hedrick Middle School to an event for American Airlines; Brian was the unanimous choice.
I have continued to watch Brian Freed's growth as he has become a young man and now I am also acquainted with his wife and each of their three children. I have seen these parents involved in every aspect of their children's lives, seeking to rear them to also be kind, contributing young people.
Bond elections are one area of control LISD has over its finances. These monies help build and maintain our buildings and technology. The last bond election was in 2008 for $697 million dollars. I personally was against this bond, not that our kids don’t deserve the best, they certainly do, but this bond package promised more than it could give and now that the money is about to run out, many of us are left wondering why our classrooms were never built. The truth is, the wording on the bond never promised anything to anyone, it was essentially a blank check to the district. This bond election was the catalyst to move me from a parent of an elementary student to a frequent visitor and speaker at school board meetings.
Last year, LISD formed a facilities committee, a group of community members who volunteered their time to look at the buildings LISD owns and produce a budget to maintain those buildings. As committee members we were invited to walk the buildings and talk with their principals or managers about what their individual needs were. A special thanks to Representatives from PBK Architects for walking each and every building while keeping organized notes for us to refer back to. Every wish was documented in what ended up being many 3 inch binders worth of information. The committee sat down over several months and prioritized those wishes. By the time the final calculations were made, LISD’s wishes total approximately $500 million dollars to repair or replace our current buildings. I anticipate LISD calling another bond election within the next three years.
The Supreme Court is currently deciding the issue of same-sex marriage.
I am a terminally heterosexual Navy veteran and I support same-sex marriage.
I know several gay and lesbian veterans. We wore our country's uniform and took the same oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
In 2008 I watched Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva's testimony to the House Armed Services Committee regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military until it was repealed in 2011. Sergeant Alva was the first Marine wounded in Iraq and received a Purple Heart.
He is also openly gay.
If gays and lesbians can serve in our armed forces and if necessary make the ultimate sacrifice, then surely we can allow them to marry the person they love.
In addition, I have gay family members; one on my mother's side and one on my father's side. I strongly believe in their equal rights because they are people that I deeply care about.
I am standing on the right side of history, and I encourage my fellow Texans to join me.
The time of year is upon when local elected officials, read school board and city councils, are up for reelection. I had the privilege of serving in Highland Village from 2006-2012. No one person has all the answers about running for local office, but there are several things I would like to share from my experiences that may help the aspiring candidate.
First off is that if you have to do a sell job on the members of your family, you might want to reconsider a run for public office. It is essential for your family to be one hundred percent behind you. Reluctance will not do. Only full force enthusiasm should describe your close friends and family’s ideas about your candidacy. These folks support will be essential during a campaign and after you are elected.
Far too often, we hear that any attempt to design reasonable gun control, is an affront to our Second Amendment rights and a deprivation of our liberties.
What about the innocent victims of gun violence, and the shattered lives of their families and friends? Were their "Unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," of a lesser value than Second Amendment rights?
In an attempt to prevent future massacres of school children and teachers, some government officials now naively suggest having armed marshals and arming teachers in our schools rather than trying to find genuine, practical solutions. Maybe, someone will suggest that students should be required to wear flak jackets or bullet proof vests?
There has never been a better time than now, to have a serious and honest conversation about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable, and reducing their use in crime. The concerns of gun owners should be part of that conversation and for once, so should the concerns of teachers, parents and all who are concerned about gun violence.
Do Israelis have the right to be frightened by the experience of the Nazi Holocaust and to do all they can to prevent a repetition of that nightmare? Absolutely.
Do Israelis and their American friends have the right to be on high alert and to take it seriously when groups like Hamas and demagogues like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to wipe Israel off the face of the map? Of course.
Do the people of Israel have the right to be angry and to protect themselves when rockets are launched against civilians in Jerusalem and elsewhere? No doubt.
Do they have the right to fight back hard against groups that embrace murderous attacks on unarmed victims like Hamas, Hezbollah and, before that, the Palestinian Liberation Organization? Certainly.
Those rights, however, do not imply an unchecked moral license, utilizing a massive technological advantage, to rain murder and mayhem from the skies of Gaza.
This past week, civilian deaths from Israeli air raids in that overcrowded strip of poverty and misery has neared 100, with more than 800 wounded, including more than 200 children. Israelis can claim they are just going after the terrorists with their wide-scale bombings. But Americans made similar claims when they exterminated a village called My Lai in South Vietnam in 1968. In the weeks leading up to that slaughter, American soldiers in the region near My Lai had been killed in sneak attacks by a persistent enemy. Enraged and terrorized, those troops felt they had earned complete moral authority as they gunned down the unarmed and the helpless in that sad collection of hamlets.
To those who signed the Texas Secession Petition, thank you for your honesty.
Your petition signature on the very week that America remembers the sacrifices that our veterans have made for our county, is a testament of you utter disrespect to those who have fought for our freedom
Thank your for bringing back bad memories of the flag burners of the 1960's. For it is your Secession signatures that have made you the flag burners of today.
What is preventative medical care and how can it help lower health care costs on the front lines of medicine? Preventative medical care can take many forms. It can be identification and treatment of medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes before complications of these common diseases develop. Identifying these conditions early helps to decrease costs of caring for the most severe complications such as heart and kidney disease. But in addition to this type of preventative medicine, there are preventative measures that can decrease the costs of surgical care as well.
Cancer screenings are the perfect example of a way to help decrease surgical costs. Breast cancer screening with mammogram not only saves lives and increases the survival of breast cancer patients. It helps identify the cancer at an earlier stage where treatments can be less invasive both before and after surgery. Aggressive skin cancer surveillance and mole removal can help identify pre cancerous skin lesions and avoid larger more expensive surgical treatments. And colonoscopy as a screening tool can identify polyps before they become colon cancer. This can save health care dollars by avoiding surgery and/or post-operative treatments. There are other examples beyond cancer screenings.