Dave Grohl penned a beautiful letter supporting America's teachers
via Tornonto Sun / Twitter

The number of Americans diagnosed wit COVID-19 has exploded over the course of July, but that hasn't stopped the Trump Administration from aggressively pushing for schools to reopen in the fall.

Earlier in the month, Trump tweeted that virtual learning "has proven to be terrible compared to in school."

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who's been a strong advocate for school choice and reducing the federal role in districts, has done an about-face and is pushing schools to reopen as well.

"I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom," she told CNN. "Because we know for most kids, that's the best environment for them."


Her department has also threatened to pull funding from districts that refuse to reopen. "The basic premise of federal funding under law is to provide a full-time education to students. How can you take the money and not provide the service?" a statement from her department read.

The issue of whether to open up schools or not in the fall has myriad considerations. What does science say about children's ability to spread the virus based on age? Has the curve flattened in a specific region? How will the schools handle social distancing?

How does being out of school for an extended period harm children psychologically? What do working parents do if they're children can't go to school?

These are all worthy of consideration, but one of the biggest concerns should be, what do the teachers think?

Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl penned a beautiful essay in The Atlantic supporting the idea that teachers should lead the way through this crisis.

Dave opens the letter admitting he's not a great role model when it comes to education.

"So, with me being a high-school dropout, you would imagine that the current debate surrounding the reopening of schools wouldn't register so much as a blip on my rock-and-roll radar, right? Wrong," Grohl wrote.

"My mother was a public-school teacher."

via NME / Twitter

"She helped generations of children learn how to learn, and, like most other teachers, exhibited a selfless concern for others," Grohl continued. "Though I was never her student, she will forever be my favorite teacher."

Given his lifelong experience with educators he believes they are "essential workers."

"It takes a certain kind of person to devote their life to this difficult and often-thankless job. I know because I was raised in a community of them," Grohl wrote. "I have mowed their lawns, painted their apartments, even babysat their children, and I'm convinced that they are as essential as any other essential workers."

Grohl asked his go-to expert on the topic, his mother Virginia, her thoughts on the issue. "There's so much more to be addressed than just opening the doors and sending them back home," Grohl's 82-year-old, now retired mother, told him over the phone.

She also gave him a list of issues that should be considered before reopening districts: "masks and distancing, temperature checks, crowded busing, crowded hallways, sports, air-conditioning systems, lunchrooms, public restrooms, janitorial staff."

Given the large number of staff at most schools that are older and more vulnerable to the virus, Dave's mother believes schools should remain temporarily closed.

"Remote learning for the time being," Dave's mom said.

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Grohl also questioned the qualifications of DeVos, a woman who never spent any time teaching in a classroom.

"I wouldn't trust the U.S. secretary of percussion to tell me how to play 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' if they had never sat behind a drum set, so why should any teacher trust Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to tell them how to teach, without her ever having sat at the head of a class?" Grohl wrote.

The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" drummer concluded his letter recommending that, in the school debate, we let teachers lead the way.

"Teachers want to teach, not die, and we should support and protect them like the national treasures that they are. For without them, where would we be?" Grohl wrote.

"May we show these tireless altruists a little altruism in return. I would for my favorite teacher. Wouldn't you?"

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.