36 years before her, Blake Shelton used this girl's textbook. That's not a great thing.

Imagine opening up one of your textbooks to learn that it used to belong to one of the top country music stars of our time. Pretty cool, right? Maybe not.

When first grader Marley Parker opened up her new reader, she saw a familiar name scrawled in the sign-out page: Blake Shelton. It could be a neat coincidence (Marley and her family live in Shelton's hometown of Ada, Oklahoma, and though Shelton hasn't commented on whether it was his, it is possible), but regardless — the 1982 date by Shelton's name means the book has been in circulation for at least 36 years.

Marley was excited. Her mom, Shelly Bryan Parker, was not. Shelly wrote in a Facebook post, "I am EMBARRASSED!!!! I'm 40 and these people are my age!!! Thank you to every teacher/parent/support staffer/etc. for fighting for my kids education!!! Don't give up until education is FULLY FUNDED!!!!"


Marley is EXCITED that her “new” reader belonged to Blake Shelton, but I am EMBARRASSED!!!! I’m 40 and these people are...

Posted by Shelly Bryan Parker on Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Several commenters on the Facebook post didn't seem to see the problem.

One commenter wrote:

"Oh my gosh man you have to be kidding me. It’s a fucking book! It still has pages and the child can learn!! If teachers really cared about teaching, they would print shit off and teach!! Not complain about what they don’t have! They are forgetting about teaching at the most important time of year, the kids should be studying for tests, not worried about teachers not wanting to teach!!"

Another added:

"My main question is when did they change the alphabet that they need to buy a new book ... the letter A is still the letter A right? Or did it change to an S?"

But the issue isn't about whether the content of the book itself is outdated. The commenters are probably right that not much has changed in the world of first grade literature in the past few decades. They're also right that the book looks to be in fairly good condition. The issue is that many old textbooks being used in Oklahoma schools are outdated or in a virtually unusable condition.

Oklahoma teachers began April 2018 with a walkout, calling on the state legislature to improve their pay and fund their classroom needs.

Parents, teachers, students, and supporters marched on the state capitol building to urge lawmakers to approve $200 million in annual education funding increases, and they're making a good case. According to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, inflation-adjusted funding per student in Oklahoma dropped 28.2% between 2008 and 2018. Factor in that Oklahoma, a state that heavily subsidizes energy companies, has the lowest teacher pay in the nation, and they're absolutely right to feel a bit outraged.

Thousands gathered outside the Oklahoma state Capitol building on April 4, 2018, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin added fuel to the fire when she criticized the teachers for being entitled, saying, "It's kind of like having a teenage kid that wants a better car."

That comment came after the state approved a roughly $6,000 a year pay increase for teachers, and a $50 million funding increase, well short of the teachers' request. Previously, she said she hoped teachers would stop by the capitol to "thank" her and legislators. It doesn't seem that she understands the situation.

Teachers do this work because they love children, because they want to help inspire a new generation of leaders. They know going into it that they're going to be overworked and underpaid, but they do it anyway. What Gov. Fallin and other elected officials in favor of cutting public spending are doing is nothing short of exploitation. Teachers are finally saying "enough," and it's on all of us to stand with them, and their students, in their fight for fair treatment and adequate funding.

Thousands gathered and marched in a picket line outside the Oklahoma state Capitol building on April 4, 2018, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images.

It's on us to fight for a world where no student has to use 36-year-old textbooks.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

Keep Reading Show less