What do they have in common?

I get to go to some pretty cool events and meet amazing people in my travels for PaFEC. Just last week we were honored to attend the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Education Academy, stop by at Jay-Z’s Ford Pal Education Center event in Philly, and participate in the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania’s Elizabethtown Convention.

We were honored to be asked by Andre Cushing of ACCE to contribute to a panel on school boards.  We offered parent thoughts, discussed difficulties and faults within the system, and heard from experts in the field, notably, Laura Zorc of BEST, and Keith Williams of The Center for Independent Employees.

It was also a very enlightening and rewarding experience, to hear from legislators from other states, as well as our own, notably; Representative Barb Gleim, Representative Martina White, Representative Joe D’Orsie, and Representative Eric Nelson.

Jay-Z’s support of Lifeline Scholarships/PASS (Pennsylvania Award for Student Success) has been highly publicized in the media, and we traveled to the Ford Pal Education Center to take a look.  We were surprised to see Dania Diaz herself, the Executive Director of the Shawn Carter Foundation, here in Philly (thanks for the IG shout-out!).  It’s clear, from her own story, that “Education was important, always. I was a strong student. In middle school, there was a program, now called Oliver Scholars, which recruited high-achieving students to support their entry into private school. It opened incredible doors for me…

I was always inspired by learning environments. I loved learning new things. I got my undergraduate degree at Columbia University, and graduate degree at Teachers College there. I worked in executive education at Columbia Business School, gravitating toward management education in the nonprofit sector. Given my own experience, it was natural for me to focus on charitable organizations.”

As a new homeschooling mom to my youngest child Virginia (entering 9th grade next year), I have felt admittedly overwhelmed and apprehensive.  I have the same thoughts as many others – “What if I screw up my kid?  Will CPS come to my house? Will the district be a friend or foe?”  After all – I’m only human!

As we walked through the vendor rows, I saw so much opportunity and support for homeschooling families (and obtained lots of PA info from Rep Tom Jones‘ table to satisfy the PA study requirement – thank you!).

And I finally met Will Estrada of HSLDA – someone whom I greatly admire in his work to support homeschooling families in the legal arena (and I became an official HSLDA member, too).

This trip was so rewarding – speaking with and learning from legislators, education advocates and fellow parents, and even an Executive Director from a hip-hop mogul’s philanthropic organization!  And I cannot thank all of them enough for their work on behalf of children!

But the most striking and amazing part of our trip was when I saw my child’s face literally light up at all of the opportunity that this upcoming school year would bring – the chemistry, world literature, vocabulary, and history curriculum she herself chose from Rainbow Resource Center – or the dozen books (not an exaggeration!) from Lamplighter Publishers.

To me, my child regaining her love of learning and reading – excited to start the next school year with the last one barely past us – was the best outcome.  And PaFEC will continue in our work until every child feels the same.

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