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Betsy DeVos is our education secretary. Here's what to do next.

On Feb. 7, 2017, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as America's next education secretary.

Resistance to her nomination was of historic proportions. Last week, two Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — broke ranks and announced they would oppose DeVos, leaving the GOP-controlled Senate at a 50-50 stalemate (all 48 Democrats opposed her nomination). Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.


If you attended or have kids in public schools, DeVos' nomination may be a tough pill to swallow. DeVos, a Michigan billionaire born into wealth, has never attended or worked in a public school — although her family has given the Republican Party about $200 million over the years. She's also been a big proponent of school choice — a controversial free-market education method that allows public funds to be siphoned off to private, parochial, and even for-profit schools. It's a strategy many education advocates have criticized, claiming it uses already scarce public school funds to benefit mostly upper-middle class and wealthy families, leaving the most vulnerable students and schools in even worse shape.

Admittedly, it was not a good day for many public school advocates. But now more than ever, American kids and schools need our help.

Here are 20 ways you can turn your anxiety over the future of public education into real action:

1. First and foremost, don't feel hopeless.

Let your frustrations fuel your advocacy. Among President Trump's controversial cabinet appointments, DeVos' agenda may be the least popular among Americans. The resistance to her plans is alive and well.

2. Help fund a project that will make a difference on Donors Choose.

The platform gives teachers a place to crowd-fund classroom projects, allowing individuals (that's you!) to help students, whether it be giving art supplies to students in California or providing iPads to kids in Brooklyn to boost their linguistic and social skills.

Photo via iStock.

3. If you can, get involved in the National Education Association.

The focus of NEA — the largest professional employee organization in the country — is to make public education high-quality and accessible to every student. There are many ways for prospective, current, and former public education professionals to join the cause.

4. Come midterm elections, don't forget which senators voted for DeVos — many of whom received campaign donations from her family:

Steve Daines (Montana), John Thune (South Dakota), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Jeff Sessions (Alabama), Roger Wicker (Mississippi), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Bob Corker (Tennessee), Michael Enzi (Wyoming), John Barrasso (Wyoming), Dean Heller (Nevada), Rob Portman (Ohio), Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), John McCain (Arizona), Richard Shelby (Alabama), Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Cory Gardner (Colorado), Rand Paul (Kentucky), Deb Fischer (Nebraska), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), James Inhofe (Oklahoma), Jim Risch (Idaho), James Lankford (Oklahoma), Jerry Moran (Kansas), Patrick Toomey (Pennsylvania), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Tom Cotton (Arkansas), Michael Rounds (South Dakota), Thad Cochran (Mississippi), Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), Michael Crapo (Idaho), John Hoeven (North Dakota), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), Orrin Hatch (Utah), John Kennedy (Louisiana), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Todd Young (Indiana), Jeff Flake (Arizona), Tim Scott (South Carolina), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Marco Rubio (Florida), David Perdue (Georgia), Johnny Isakson (Georgia), Charles Grassley (Iowa), John Cornyn (Texas), John Boozman (Arkansas), and Lamar Alexander (Tennessee).

5. Think local.

You know your own community best. What local or regional organizations do the crucial work unique to the problems facing the public schools in your city? Reach out and ask them how you can get involved.

6. Donate to No Kid Hungry.

The nonprofit helps feed American schoolchildren so they can stay full and focused in the classroom. One $10 gift can provide up to 100 meals to a kid who could use it.

7. Support after-school arts programs.

There's probably at least one group in your area helping teach art to kids outside the classroom — an opportunity that could help them in many ways for years to come. In Pittsburgh, for instance, free after-school art classes at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Youth & Arts teach any kids in the Pittsburgh public school system skills in ceramics, design, photography, and more.

8. Share this video of Sen. Al Franken questioning DeVos' support of anti-LGBTQ causes — and hold her accountable to do better.

Let the record show: Dollars from the DeVos family have gone toward horribly anti-LGBTQ initiatives, including gay (to straight) conversion therapy — a practice that's  been deemed harmful by experts and is essentially a form of child abuse.

Despite her record, DeVos said during her Senate hearing that she never believed in gay conversion therapy and that she "fully embraces equality" for all students. Let's hold her accountable to that.

Earlier this evening, I questioned Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, and was deeply troubled by the fact that she seemed unfamiliar with some of the most basic issues in education today. Ms. DeVos repeatedly refused to answer questions, let alone offer specifics. That was not what the American people needed to hear. They deserved to see her demonstrate that she understands and can successfully address the profoundly difficult challenges ordinary families face every day when it comes to education: things like making sure their kids are prepared for the 21st century economy, addressing student loan debt, and ensuring kids feel safe in school.

Posted by U.S. Senator Al Franken on Tuesday, January 17, 2017

9. Support your local libraries.

Libraries are great resources for our kids to learn outside the classroom (and they have so much more to offer than books). Get your library card, visit frequently, volunteer, and spread the word.

Speaking of libraries...

10. Create a Little Free Library in your own neighborhood.

Build a little library in your yard, stock it with some books, and let your neighbors enjoy. Ideally, it'll turn into a take-a-book, give-a-book situation.

Learn more about how to pull it off.

11. Fight for more affordable and free higher education at the ballot box.

Despite what you may think of DeVos' appointment, Americans increasingly support using public funds to ensure college is free or affordable to more students. Stanford University, for example, was cheered for guaranteeing students whose parents have a combined income of less than $125,000 would have free tuition. And San Francisco has also made waves for making City College free for residents.

Many state and local governments are also trying to make higher ed more accessible to more students. New York state may make its public colleges and universities free to attend for the vast majority of students. Stay plugged in to similar state and local initiatives in your own area.

12. Support the "nonpublic" schools in your area.

Nonpublic schools are, in fact, public schools for kids with moderate to severe disabilities that prevent them from attending a more traditional public school. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act ensures schools like them exist for any family that needs it.

Considering DeVos' nomination has disability advocates worried, the nonpublic schools in your community could probably use your support. Many host regular fundraisers and even need classroom volunteers.

13. Support the Kids in Need Foundation.

The nonprofit provides thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies to students in need every year, giving them the tools they need to succeed in class. (There are lots of groups doing similar work, by the way — if you do some digging, you may find a more local option.)

Photo via iStock.

14. Don't forget that Open eBooks is a thing, and it's spectacular.

Former President Obama's ConnectED initiative helped get more than $250 million worth of fantastic children's e-books online, available to any young person who wants to dive into a good read.

Because not every kid gets that chance.

15. Donate to First Book.

This nonprofit provides new books and other learning materials to kids and families in need. Since it was founded in 1992, the group has given away 160 million books and education resources.

16. Help tackle crime, nutrition, and education ... with veggies.

The nonprofit Gardopia Gardens operates community gardens at schools in Texas, helping make nutritional foods more accessible to kids. It not only teaches them about nutrition and gardening, it lowers crime rates in the neighborhoods where it operates. Similar programs are offered at schools around the country — if your local school doesn't already have one, why not look into what it would take to start one yourself?

17. Help make lunchtime a little more stress-free.

18. Support Publicolor.

Kids in New York City who work in the after-school program Publicolor paint beautiful works of art in schools in order to bring a splash of color to the spaces they share, build relationships, and learn valuable skills like commercial painting and positive work habits.

19. Stand up for immigrant students by supporting United We Dream.

The group had already been rallying educators to stand up to Trump's agenda. Now, with DeVos' nomination, its Educators Toolkit may be even more necessary.

20. Take matters into your own hands and run for a position on your local school board.

All politics are local, right? Run for school board in your community and make a difference.

Let's not sugarcoat it: DeVos' nomination is a major setback for our public schools. But we can't get complacent.

In ways big and small, our resistance to her agenda can make a better tomorrow for kids everywhere.

Photo via iStock.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

A semicolon tattoo


Have you seen anyone with a semicolon tattoo like the one above?

If not, you may not be looking close enough. They're popping up...

Semicolon Tattoo

Semicolon Tattoo

Photo by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

...everywhere.

Photo by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

That's right: the semicolon. It's a tattoo that has gained popularity in recent years, but unlike other random or mystifying trends, this one has a serious meaning behind it. (And no, it's not just the mark of a really committed grammar nerd.)

The semicolon tattoo represents mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention.


Photo by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.


Project Semicolon was born from a social media movement in 2013.

They describe themselves as a "movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love, and inspire."

But why a semicolon?

"A semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life."

Originally created as a day where people were encouraged to draw a semicolon on their bodies and photograph it, it quickly grew into something greater and more permanent. Today, people all over the world are tattooing the mark as a reminder of their struggle, victory, and survival.

Photos by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

I spoke with Jenn Brown and Jeremy Jaramillo of The Semicolon Tattoo Project, an organization inspired by the semicolon movement. Along with some friends, Jenn and Jeremy saw an opportunity to both help the community and reduce the stigma around mental illness.

In 2012, over 43 million Americans dealt with a mental illness. Mental illness is not uncommon, yet there is a stigma around it that prevents a lot of people from talking about it — and that's a barrier to getting help.

More conversations that lead to less stigma? Yes please.

"[The tattoo] is a conversation starter," explains Jenn. "People ask what it is and we get to tell them the purpose."

"I think if you see someone's tattoo that you're interested in, that's fair game to start a conversation with someone you don't know," adds Jeremy. "It provides a great opportunity to talk. Tattoos are interesting — marks we put on our bodies that are important to us."

In 2014, The Semicolon Tattoo Project held an event at several tattoo shops where people could get a semicolon tattoo for a flat rate. "That money was a fundraiser for our crisis center," said Jenn. In total, over 400 people received semicolon tattoos in one day. Even better, what began as a local event has spread far and wide, and people all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos.

And it's not just about the conversation — it's about providing tangible support and help too.

Jenn and Jeremy work with the Agora Crisis Center. Founded in 1970, it's one of the oldest crisis centers in the country. Through The Semicolon Tattoo Project, they've been able to connect even more people with the help they need during times of crisis. (If you need someone to talk to, scroll to the end of the article for the center's contact information.)

So next time you see this small punctuation tattoo, remember the words of Upworthy writer Parker Molloy:

"I recently decided to get a semicolon tattoo. Not because it's trendy (though, it certainly seems to be at the moment), but because it's a reminder of the things I've overcome in my life. I've dealt with anxiety, depression, and gender dysphoria for the better part of my life, and at times, that led me down a path that included self-harm and suicide attempts.

But here I am, years later, finally fitting the pieces of my life together in a way I never thought they could before. The semicolon (and the message that goes along with it) is a reminder that I've faced dark times, but I'm still here."

No matter how we get there, the end result is so important: help and support for more people to also be able to say " I'm still here."

If you want to see more incredible semicolon tattoos, check out nine photos and stories that our readers shared with us!


This article was written by Laura Willard and originally appeared on 7.7.15

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Woman who gave her baby up for adoption gets a wonderful surprise from the new family

"You know, you can't have too many people loving you, right?”

A journal detailing Steven Schoebinger's young life.

At Upworthy, we love sharing the “best of humanity” with our audience, and this story out of Utah, originally reported by CBS News’ Steve Hartman, shows the power of love to break down barriers.

When Schauna Austin, 48, was 20 years old, she got pregnant and knew she wasn’t ready to raise a child, so she made the difficult decision to give the baby up for adoption. She gave birth to a son she named Riley and only had 3 days to spend with him before surrendering him to his new family.

So, she held him tight for 72 hours straight.

"It was perfect," Austin said about those 3 emotionally-charged days. "I knew I would have him for a short time, so I made every minute count of it. I didn't sleep for three days." It must have been tough for Austin to give up her son because the grieving process can be incredibly difficult.


Riley, renamed Steven, was given to Chris and Jennifer Schoebinger in a closed adoption, where Austin was not to be informed about the adoptive family. In Utah, closed adoptions are a rarity these days, with about 95% allowing some exchange of information between the birth and adoptive parents.

However, about a week later, the Schoebingers had a change of heart.

The Schoebingers decided Austin should be involved in Steven’s life. "It was like, 'OK, this is the way it should be. She was part of our family,'" Jennifer told CBS News. "You know, you can't have too many people loving you, right? Why couldn't he be both of ours?" Chris added.

Every year, the Schoebingers sent Austin pictures and bound journals showing Steven's journey in deep detail. They even had lists of all the new words he learned each year. The books were titled “The Life and Times of ‘Riley,’” paying homage to Steven’s original name.

The hope was that one day when the biological mother and son were ready, they could pick up where they left off. That moment came when Steven was 7 years old and Austin taught him to fish.

The unique arrangement has been fantastic for both Austin and her biological son. "I was blessed beyond words," Austin said. "I kind of got the best of both worlds, for sure," Steven agreed. It may seem like relationships between children and those who gave them up for adoption would be complicated. But studies show that 84% of adoptees reported high levels of satisfaction when maintaining ongoing contact with their birth parents.

Steven is now 27 and in August 2022, he and his wife, Kayla, had their first child, a boy they named Riley—the name Steven was originally given by his biological mother. Austin is now a grandmother.

The remarkable story of Austin and the Schoebinger family proves that when we put walls between ourselves and others, we are often blocking everyone off from more love and support. "I think the lesson we learned is that sometimes we create barriers where barriers don't need to be. And when we pull down those barriers, we really find love on the other side," Chris said.

A young girl relaxing in an inner tube.


There’s a popular trend where parents often share they are creating “core memories” for their children on social media posts, whether it’s planning an elaborate vacation or creating an extra-special holiday moment.

While it’s important for parents to want their kids to have happy childhoods, sometimes it feels presumptuous when they believe they can manufacture a core memory. Especially when a child’s inner world is so much different than an adult's.

Carol Kim, a mother of 3 and licensed Marriage and family Therapist, known as ParentingResilience on Instagram, recently shared the “5 Things Kids Will Remember from Their Childhood” on her page. The fascinating insight is that none of the entries had to do with extravagant vacations, over-the-top birthday parties, or Christmas gifts that kids could only dream about.


According to Kim, the five things that kids will remember all revolve around their parents' presence and support. "Notice how creating good memories doesn’t require expensive toys or lavish family trips. Your presence is the most valuable present you can give to your child,” Kim wrote in the post’s description.

1. Quality time together

"Taking some time to focus only on your child is very special. Playing games, reading books, or just talking can create strong, happy memories. These moments show your child that you are present with them."

2. Words of encouragement

"Encouraging words can greatly impact your child during both good times and tough times. Kids often seek approval from their parents and your positive words can be a strong motivator and source of comfort.... It can help kids believe in themselves, giving them the confidence to take on new challenges and keep going when things get tough."

parenting, core memories, quality time

A mother and child riding a small bike.

via Gustavo Fring/Pexels

3. Family traditions

“It creates a feeling of stability and togetherness … Family traditions make children feel like they belong and are part of a larger story, deepening their sense of security and understanding of family identity and values.”

4. Acts of kindness

“Seeing and doing kind things leaves a strong impression on children. It shows them the importance of being kind and caring. They remember how good it feels to help others and to see their parents helping too.”

5. Comfort during tough times

"Knowing they can rely on you during tough times makes them feel secure and build trust. … Comforting them when they're struggling shows them they are loved no matter what, helping them feel emotionally secure and strong."

parenting, core memories, quality time

A family making a meal together.

via Elina Fairytale/Pexels

Kim’s strategies are all beautiful ways to be present in our children’s lives and to communicate our support. However, these seemingly simple behaviors can be challenging for some parents who are dealing with issues stemming from their pasts.

“If you find barriers to providing these things, it’s important to reflect on why,” Kim writes in the post. “There could be several reasons, such as parenting in isolation (we’re not meant to parent alone), feeling overstimulated, dealing with past trauma, or struggling with mental health. Recognizing these challenges is the first step to addressing them and finding support.”

America's Got Talent/Youtube

You could watch this a million times and it wouldn't get old.

In the latest episode of “America’s Got Talent,” a one-of-a-kind Argentinian dance troupe snagged a Golden Buzzer from Sofia Vergara and stunned audiences with a performance that truly brought the heat.

As the group, named Legión, stepped onto the stage in matching sleek black outfits that look straight out of the film “Desperado,” the crowd could already tell they were about to experience something special.


Just before starting their number, one of the Legión dancers explained that the team all had “regular jobs” and would find time to rehearse around 2am of the night in a family member’s backyard. If they won, they would use the prize money to purchase a studio where they can truly dedicate himself to their craft.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, someone appeared on stage to set their boots on fire.

Legión’s blazing routine was a riveting display of passion and precision, made even more thrilling with the rhythmic beats of drums and whips.

Watch:

The folk duel dance, called malambo, emerged in the late 19th century as a way for gauchos to test their speed, strength and dexterity against one another. As malambo choreographer Gilles Brinas explained to ArtBurst, the fast-paced footwork is inspired by the galloping horses gauchos would ride as they wrangle cattle.

And while malambo dancers might regularly add weapons or drums to their routine, it seems the boots-on-fire aspect was a completely new touch.

Even Vergara, who said I'm South American. I have seen this dance many times” told the troupe "that was spectacular. I thought it was amazing. I have never seen anything like that” just before hitting the Golden Buzzer button.

Cowell, along with Hiedi Klum and Howie Mandell also sang high praises. Klum remarked “I loved it. Many dancers have danced on this stage, but their feet have never been on fire” while Mandell called it “Very unexpected, very surprising.”

“This is something I genuinely can see in Vegas,” Cowell noted.

Over in the Youtube comments, viewers felt the same way.

“I have never seen anything like that in my entire life. That was INCREDIBLE and very worthy of the golden buzzer. I can see them going very far if not winning. Congratulations and great job, guys!!!”

“That was amazing! Well deserved Golden Buzzer! I agree with Simon, VEGAS WORTHY! Viva en fuego muchachos!”

“I literally never seen anything like this before. They’ve added some danger to this act and original moves. Well deserved golden buzzer.”

Congrats to Legión, for delivering a unique, energetic and definitely fiery performance!

Democracy

15 million Americans have medical debt crushing their credit scores but that's about to end

This is great news for the millions of us with outstanding medical bills.

Millions of American families are trying to pay off medical bills that put them into debt.

A new proposed rule from the Biden administration could spell some relief for people with outstanding medical bills.

According to data collected by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 15 million Americans are carrying $49 billion in medical debt that shows up on their credit report, potentially having a negative impact on their credit score. A new rule banning medical debt from credit reports would change that.


In the U.S., people's ability to get approved for a car loan or a mortgage to purchase a house depends heavily on their credit score or FICO score. People with a strong credit history, who make payments on time and don't carry too much debt, will usually have a good credit score and an easier time being approved for loans with the best interest rates. A low credit score makes getting a loan more difficult or more expensive.

Unfortunately, circumstances out of people's control, like medical care that puts them thousands of dollars in debt, can negatively impact their credit score.

"Medical debt makes it more difficult for millions of Americans to be approved for a car loan, a home loan or small business loan, all of which in turn makes it more difficult to just get by, much less get ahead. And that is simply not fair," Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters via teleconference.

CFPB Director Rohit Chopra also shared that having medical debt is not a fair indicator of someone's true credit habits.

"Medical debt on a consumer credit report is a very different type of debt than a mortgage, an auto loan, or a credit card," Chopra explained. "Sometimes, as is the case with a visit to the emergency room, the debt is taken on unexpectedly and in a time of crisis. Medical bills are also frequently subject to coding errors, charity care mistakes, or complexities with insurance. A decade ago, the CFPB found that medical debts were overly penalizing consumer credit scores, and we have consistently found that medical billing data on a credit report is less predictive of future repayment than other debts."

Chopra also called out the predatory practices that have influenced credit reporting systems when it comes to medical debt, providing an unfair disadvantage to consumers.

"Some have seized on medical debts as a major moneymaking enterprise," he said. "These entities purchase medical debt, sometimes for pennies on the dollar, and they can cash out big by getting consumers to pay up on those debts. And one of the easiest ways they can do so is by threatening to park that medical debt on the credit report, where it might impede a consumer’s ability to get approved for a loan. In this way, the credit reporting system more closely resembles a weapon for debt collectors rather than a tool for lenders to assess someone’s likelihood to repay a loan."

Chopra also pointed out that the three big credit reporting agencies——Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—voluntarily removed some medical debt from credit reports, only certain kinds. CFPB research found that although the number of Americans with medical debts on their credit report had decreased, the numbers were still substantial and disproportionately impact low-income Americans. Additionally, the average medical debt on credit reports had increased from $2,000 to over $3,100.

Vice President Harris said that this change would result in millions of Americans seeing a 20-point increase in their credit score on average, allowing for 22,000 more approved mortgages to buy a home. She also called on states, cities and hospitals to join the Biden administration in forgiving medical debt.

According to ABC News, the rule has been in the works since September and could go into effect early next year.