Donald Trump is OK with arming teachers. These teachers know there's a better way.

As survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School push to prevent gun violence, elected officials are supporting an entirely different tactic: arming teachers.

President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet on Feb. 22 that teachers with military training or experience with firearms be allowed to carry concealed weapons in the classroom. By his estimate, around 20% of American educators would pass his standards (that's about 720,000 kindergarten to 12th-grade teachers).

It'd be a lot of guns around a lot of children, but Trump thinks that armed teachers would a strong deterrent (or better yet, a "GREAT DETERRENT").


But as quickly as Trump and his ilk could advocate for this idea, teachers on the front lines advocated for something else — common sense.

Educators Olivia Bertels and Brittany Wheaton, who met online through their respective teacher Instagram accounts, launched the hashtag #ArmMeWith to share what they need in their classrooms and schools more than weapons.

"Brittany approached me immediately ... with the idea to partner up and use our respective audiences on Instagram to start a campaign to bring awareness about how actual teachers in actual classrooms feel about arming themselves and the alternative solutions that we KNOW are better options for us, but more importantly, our students," Bertels writes in an interview over e-mail. "... My desk drawers are for candy and stickers, not a gun."

Their campaign quickly went viral, with more than 7,000 posts and submissions on Instagram in a matter of days.

We cannot afford to ignore the truth about what is happening in our country. What is truly frightening is the number of people who refuse to make decisions based upon facts. It is a fact that families sent their loved ones to school and now they are planning funerals. It is a fact that futures were ended when they were just beginning. It is a fact that too many students have lost their lives in a space where they are supposed to be educated and protected. It is a fact that too many people in power are not using that power to bring about the necessary changes that could prevent things like this from happening. Far too many bullets claim our students in the streets for them to claim our students in school, too. We don’t need rhetoric when reality is working overtime. #ArmMeWith the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. • • • • • #education #teacher #teachers #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #iteachtoo #teacherspayteachers #tpt #englishteacher #highschool #blackteachersrock #blackboyjoy #thedapperteacher #blackhistorymonth #blackhistory #armmewith

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"Having a weapon in the school, or even the classroom, would instill unnecessary fear and anxiety," says Jonathan Avery, a secondary English teacher also known as The Dapper Teacher. "Such a drastic, constant state of preparation would more than likely make students and teachers alike feel the constant presence of the possibility of danger, and that’s no way to live."

It's no way to learn either.

Before guns and weapons, here's what teachers would like to see more of in their schools, classrooms, and communities.

1. School supplies. Because we don't ask firefighters to pay for the hoses.

2. Legislators who "get it" and are ready to listen.

3. And yes, that means politicians who aren't in the pocket of the NRA.

Because you can't have it both ways.

4. Resources to help teachers care for every student.

5. A secretary of education who is — and maybe this sounds too out there — an educator.

6. New strategies for connecting with parents so work in the classroom can continue at home and vice versa.

7. Time to teach, support, and celebrate the importance of diversity and inclusion.

#armmewith

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8. Training and resources to incorporate restorative justice methods, which are great alternatives to detentions and suspensions.

And yes, this teacher in Australia joined in to support educators over here in the States. Australia has mostly put an end to gun violence.

9. Training to better support students going through a difficult time.

10. More counselors, school psychologists, and social workers.

These licensed and trained professionals are the caring adults we need to support our students.

We already ask a lot of teachers. Now more than ever, it's time to listen.

We ask them to be educators, counselors, coaches, custodians, drivers, and more. They’re hard-working, underpaid professionals in an often thankless job. And yet, we’ve seen at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Sandy Hook, and Columbine, these brave educators will lay down their lives to protect students without hesitation. That’s because they love their field and the families they serve.

Before we ask one more thing of the educators in our community, let’s stop, listen, and hear how we can help.

"Thoughts and prayers are wonderful, but there are so many practical steps we can take. Talk to your political leaders. Voice your opinions. Keep the conversation going," Avery says. " Vote for change. And most of all, don’t get caught up in the rhetoric of either side. Common sense and human decency will lead you to what is right."

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A video of Li doing 80 back handsprings in under a minute (some people counted 82—it's really hard to keep track without making yourself dizzy) has gone viral, with more than a million views on Twitter alone.

At first, you might assume it's a looped video (I know I did). But watch the way the wrinkles build up in the side and top of the mattress. If there's a loop in there somewhere, it doesn't account for most of the flips, and when you see what else Li can do, the feat becomes a whole lot more believable.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.