Oklahoma's governor compared teachers to bratty teens. We should stand with them.

While every school district is different, most of us have at least heard about the many schools in our public education system that are just not doing well.

Materials are out of date, there aren't enough resources for every student, and teachers, who are already overworked — no, they don't really get summers off — aren't getting paid enough. In fact, as the National Education Association points out, teachers can actually earn less pay each year as the requirements for their job become more and more daunting. That's why so many of them have second jobs.

That's not all: Teachers often have to pay out of pocket for required ongoing training and dip into their own bank accounts (or turn to GoFundMe or Donors Choose) to source crucial classroom supplies. On top of all that, they are often expected to be not just instructors but counselors, de facto parents, and confidantes for many of their students.


A protester at the state capitol in Oklahoma. Photo by J Pat Carter/AFP/Getty Images.

All that and no living wage? It'd be enough to make most people walk out of their job.

That's why the teachers strike in Oklahoma is so important. But the teachers aren't just striking for themselves. Although Gov. Mary Fallin signed a measure that would give teachers an annual pay raise of around $6,100 (they had asked for $10,000, and $5,000 for support staff), educators abandoned their classrooms this week to fight for those who couldn't fight for themselves: the students.

According to CNN, Oklahoma has seen school funding drop by 28% over the past decade, leading to unthinkable class sizes (one special education classroom, a teacher said, had reached 40 students), textbooks that are embarrassingly out of date, and harsh limits on even the smallest items — with some schools being limited to making only 30 paper copies per week. And that's at the heart of what educators are fighting for: More funding for their schools — aka a brighter future for students.  

What does Gov. Fallin think of all this? She compared the instructors to "bratty teens."

Speaking to CBS on April 3, Fallin basically compared the educators' protest to something you might see on an old episode of that show about spoiled teens, "My Super Sweet 16." You know, where a kid has a meltdown because their parents gave them their Lexus too early.

"Teachers want more," Fallin said, "but it's like kind of having a teenage kid that wants a better car."

Yes, except for the fact that a "better car" is something one wants, while a strong educational foundation is something that children absolutely need.

A student at the state capitol during the teachers' walkout in Oklahoma. ​Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images​.

And it's even less of a pertinent talking point when you realize that before Fallin approved this raise, Oklahoma teachers hadn't had one for 10 years.   Or when you consider that Oklahoma ranks at 49 in the nation when it comes to teacher salaries, even though median wages in other professions in the state aren't so far behind.

One teacher did the math on her wages and found that her salary broke down to just about $12 an hour. As the BBC video below shows, one teacher has only 29 books for more than 80 students. There are no art classes. No nurses. In some districts, children only go to school four days a week.

The reality for teachers in Oklahoma is grim.

"Our students don't have BOOKS, guys," educator Beth Wallis wrote in a now-viral Facebook post. "Our classrooms are sitting 30 deep and my district has it MADE compared to any of the major public schools in the state (40-50 students per class). We had over 1,800 emergency certifications this last year in the state. You think your kids are being taught by the most qualified, experienced teachers? They're gone. The few of us who've stayed behind do it ONLY for the kids."

That's why we need to stand with both the teachers and students in Oklahoma.

First of all, these teachers aren't being bratty when they demand more support for their students and for themselves. And Fallin's dig at teens doesn't reflect reality either. After all, America's teens are currently at the forefront of a national conversation on gun control.

The bottom line is this: Teachers deserve better than they're getting. And so do the students.

They deserve up to date books, engaging learning materials, and instructors who are fairly paid, if still overworked (it's unlikely that will ever change). When the next generation is better educated than the last, we all win.

Until we move closer to that solution, though, we shouldn't malign teachers as bratty teens for leaving their classrooms empty. We should champion for the changes they're working so hard to create.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash
gray steel 3-door refrigerator near modular kitchen

There's more to keeping a green kitchen than recycling your yogurt containers or opting to store your leftovers in glass Tupperware. Little things, like your trash bags, can add up, which is why it's important to try to reduce your footprint as much as possible. Fortunately, these sustainable kitchen products make it easy keep a green home!

Reusable Silicone Baking Cups



Reusable silicone cupcake liners save you money on having to buy disposable paper cupcake wrappers every time you bake. These sustainable cupcake liners are just as festive as anything you would throw away. Because the liners are made with a sturdier silicone, they can be used for other purposes, like arts and crafts projects.

Amazon Basics, $7.99 for a pack of 12; Amazon

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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ZACHOR Foundation

"What's 'the Holocaust'?" my 11-year-old son asks me. I take a deep breath as I gauge how much to tell him. He's old enough to understand that prejudice can lead to hatred, but I can't help but feel he's too young to hear about the full spectrum of human horror that hatred can lead to.

I wrestle with that thought, considering the conversation I recently had with Ben Lesser, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor who was just a little younger than my son when he witnessed his first Nazi atrocity.

It was September of 1939 and the Blitzkrieg occupation of Poland had just begun. Ben, his parents, and his siblings were awakened in their Krakow apartment by Nazi soldiers who pistol-whipped them out of bed and ransacked their home. As the men with the shiny black boots filled burlap sacks with the Jewish family's valuables, a scream came from the apartment across the hall. Ben and his sister ran toward the cry.

They found a Nazi swinging their neighbors' baby upside down by its legs, demanding that the baby's mother make it stop crying. As the parents screamed, "My baby! My baby!" the Nazi smirked—then swung the baby's head full force into the door frame, killing it instantly.

This story and others like it feel too terrible to tell my young son, too out of context from his life of relative safety and security. And yet Ben Lesser lived it at my son's age. And it was too terrible—for anyone, much less a 10-year-old. And it was also completely out of context from the life of relative safety and security Ben and his family had known before the Nazi tanks rolled in.

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via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

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