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Education

Texas teacher details how distrust and legal hoops have destroyed her classroom library

This goes so far beyond just banning specific titles.

teachers books classroom library texas

Stringent new requirements for classroom libraries have teachers up in arms.

Few things are more integral to a child's future successes than developing the skill and habit of reading. Study after study has shown that reading, even for pleasure, helps kids develop critical thinking skills, improve their vocabulary, increase their ability to understand others and more. Reading can even helps kids do better in math.

Because reading is such a vital learning tool, one would think caring parents would want schools to support kids reading however they can. That support might look like full, rich school libraries and classrooms full of books that kids can choose from when they have some downtime.

But a push for extreme censorship, fueled by politicians who see an opportunity to garner support through fear, has put teachers with large classroom libraries into impossible positions.

In a Facebook post that's been shared more than 19,000 times, an elementary school teacher in Texas has detailed how her state's new regulations on books in the classroom have made it virtually impossible to offer students the class library she's been building for more than a decade. Emily Clay shared a photo of several shelves filled with bins of books.

"Here is my classroom library," she wrote. "This is over 1,600 books chosen for my elementary students. This is over a decade and thousands of dollars and countless donations of collecting. This is my students’ favorite place to go in my classroom. This is where I go when I have a reluctant reader to find something just right to spark their interest.

"According to the state of Texas, this is dangerous. This is a place where children may be indoctrinated or exposed to inappropriate content. This is just one more area where teachers cannot be trusted as educational experts. This is a battleground."

Clay shared that every teacher in her district now has to go through a tedious process that starts with entering the title, author and year published for every single book in their classroom into a spreadsheet. "Then we have to go through a painstaking process to vet each and every book---even if we’ve read them, even if we grew up reading them---to make sure that 'real experts' have determined that the book content is appropriate for the age level we teach, and also enter that data," she wrote.

This summer, Clay scanned all of her classroom books into her own library system—a process that only required a barcode scan of each book. That alone took six hours, she said. There's no way she could process each book and enter the details into a spreadsheet the way the policy requires within any reasonable amount of time. Even if each book took just three minutes to process, it would take 80 hours to enter her entire 1,600-book library. No teacher has even a fraction of that amount of time. And they are supposed to have this process completed by November.

"So what am I going to do?" she wrote. "I already don’t have on-contract time to do all the things we are required to do. What I’m going to do is box up every one of these books and put them away. And these shelves will be bare. I won’t be the only one putting away all of my books. Classrooms across Texas will be bare of libraries because of this.

"I ugly-cried this morning. One of my favorite things about my job is getting emails from parents telling me how enthusiastically their child is now reading at home.

"How are kids going to learn to love to read if they can’t hold books in their hands? Putting barriers between kids and books is one of the worst things I can think of."

Roadblocking classroom reading material is especially harmful to low-income students, who may have few, if any, books at home to read.

As Clay points out in her post, kids already have access to all of the things parents are afraid they might see in a book right at their fingertips with smartphones, tablets and computers. Books aren't the enemy here.

"Sure, there are some vigilant parents who make sure their children are never exposed to anything they don’t want them to see," Clay wrote. "And while these parents could have chosen to take their kids to the public libraries themselves and choose books they deem appropriate, instead they chose to raise up their voices against teachers like me and decide that everyone’s child should be restricted; every child should have to live up to whatever standards they have chosen for their own children. They've made it clear they think we're all in this profession to tarnish and brainwash their children. This TINY minority of people are the ones who are making things like this happen. And just like with everything else in our under-funded, under-respected, over-worked, under-paid, under-staffed industry, we're probably all going to roll over and take it."

But Clay also shared that more teachers will quit because of this kind of micromanagement. She's right. People often think that teachers quit because they are underpaid, but often it's the lack of respect for teachers as professionals and the top-down decisions that make teaching effectively difficult or impossible that push teachers away from their chosen career.

But Clay's final words really get to the heart of why these hoops teachers are being asked to jump through are so problematic.

"I LOVE my students," she wrote. "I would NEVER put anything in my classroom library that I thought might expose them to something inappropriate or too mature. I know I can get parent volunteers to come in and donate their time to help me catalog my extensive collection. But what I'm really mourning is the absolute lack of trust in highly-trained educators who have poured their souls into this profession and the children of people who believe we're indoctrinating them."

This goes so far beyond raising concerns about or even banning some specific titles. What this says is: We don't trust teachers. We think you're trying to harm kids with your cute little classroom library so we're going to make it as hard as possible to even have one. If there are concerns over specific books? Fine, raise them. All reasonable people would agree that certain material is not appropriate for children at all and has no place in the classroom. Some books might fall into a subjective gray area and be up for debate, and that's fine. Those are healthy debates to have.

But parents are taking issue with books that aren't sexually explicit but simply include characters who have two same-sex parents or characters who are transgender—those books are simply reflective of the world kids live in. If parents are taking issue with books that give deference to the perspectives of people harmed by racism, that is also reflective of the world they live in. If parents are really that concerned, they can send kids to school with their own personal books to read from home and inform the teacher that they aren't allowed to use the class library. Or they can choose to homeschool.

Just stop punishing teachers for crimes they haven't committed and making their jobs far harder than they already are. They don't deserve it, and it's ultimately doing more harm than good to kids who benefit from access to classroom libraries.

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.

Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

Constance Hall asks for domestic equality.


It's the 21st century, and as a civilization, we've come a long way. No, there are no flying cars (yet), but we all carry tiny supercomputers in our pockets, can own drones, and can argue with strangers from all around the world as long as they have internet access.

And yet women are still having to ask their partners to help out around the house. What gives?




Recently, Blogger Constance Hall went on a highly-relatable rant about spouses assuming responsibility for housework, and women everywhere are all, "🙌 🙌 🙌 ."


Recently while bitching about the fact that I do absolutely everything around my house with a bunch of friends all singing "preach Queen", someone said to me "if you want help you need to be specific... ask for it. People need lists, they aren't mind readers."

So I tried that, asking.. specifics..

"Can you take the bin out?"

"Can you get up with the kids? I'm just a little tired after doing it on my own for 329 years"

"Can you go to woolies? I've done 3 loads of washing and made breaky, lunch, picked up all the kids school books, dealt with the floating shit in the pond."

And yeah, she was right... shit got done.But I was exhausted, just keeping the balls in the air.. remembering what needs to be asked to be done, constant nagging..And do you know what happened the minute I stopped asking...?

NOTHING.Again.

And so I've come to the conclusion that it's not your job to ask for help, it's not my job to write fucking lists.

We have enough god dam jobs and teaching someone how to consider me and my ridiculous work load is not one of them.Just do it.Just think about each other, what it takes to run the god dam house.

Is one of you working while the other puts up their feet? Is one of you hanging out with mates while the other peels the thirtieth piece of fruit for the day? Is one of you carrying the weight?

Because when the nagging stops, when the asking dies down, when there are no more lists....All your left with is silent resentment. And that my friends is relationship cancer..It's not up to anyone else to teach you consideration.

That's your job.Just do the fucking dishes without being asked once in a while mother fuckers.

Hall's post touches on the concept of emotional labor, which can be defined as "the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job."

In other words, although Hall's partner may be the one carrying out the tasks she assigns him, it is still Hall's job to be the "manager" of the household, and keep track of what things need to get done. And anyone who runs a household knows that juggling and keeping track of chores is just as exhausting as executing them.

At time of publication, Hall's post was shared nearly 100,000 times. That's a lot of frustrated ladies!

When your girl Far Kew sends you the perfect present. You will find this and more cunty cups on her facebook page 👌🏽
Posted by Constance Hall on Thursday, November 30, 2017

Women in the comments section seemed to overwhelmingly agree with Hall's post.

Let's all learn to share the load...laundry and otherwise.


This article originally appeared on 08.27.18

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

A mix tape from 1992.

A few weeks ago I came across an article about a kid who watches television at 1.5x speed so he can cram as much viewing in as he can. It seemed that his unquenchable desire to get through shows in the Golden Age of television meant he’d sacrifice the entertainment value of the show just to get to the end.

“Man, this guy would have been crucified in 1993,” I thought.

As a 45-year-old card-carrying member of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1979), I remembered a time when nobody bragged about the amount of TV they watched. In fact, they bragged about not owning a TV. “I don't watch TV, man,” people would say. “It only exists to sell you stuff.”

This complete reversal on the social acceptance of gluttonous TV viewing made me wonder what happened to the values we were raised on as Gen Xers? We were taught that sincerity was for simpletons, everything corporate is evil, old school is always better than the latest and greatest, authenticity is king, conformity is death and there is nothing worse than being a sell-out or a poser.


Nobody would have ever referred to themselves as an “influencer” in 1991—that’s the definition of a sell-out.

“After writing this book, I’m back in the mindset of ’90s thinking, which is that nothing is worse than selling out,” Chuck Klosterman, author of “The Nineties: A Book,” told Esquire. “Nothing was more embarrassing in the ’90s than trying to convince people to like the thing you made."

Deep inside the heart of almost every Gen Xer is a deep-seated feeling of nihilism. We didn’t trust the corporations that laid off our parents or gutted their pensions in the ’80s. In fact, everything corporate was predatory. We didn’t have a lot of faith in family values because we were the first generation raised by single parents or in daycare. We didn’t care much about politics either. Back in the ’90s, Gen X’s aversion to politics was historic.

Of course, these are all generalities about a generation of nearly about 65 million people, but studies show that there are some definite hallmarks of being a Gen Xer.


According to a generational differences document circulated through the business community, Gen X’s core values are “skepticism,” “fun” and “informality.” They’re described as “self-reliant,” “independent,” “unimpressed with authority” and motivated by “freedom.”

In the young Gen Xer, the culture of the era “instilled a wariness and skepticism, and a kind of ‘figure it out for yourself’ mindset,” Paul Taylor, author of “The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown” told The Washington Post. And with that came a sense “that you don’t have to shine a light on yourself. You’re not the center of the universe.”

But things have changed since the ’90s when Gen X was coming of age. We live in an American culture that is fractured by political partisanship, fueled by a constant culture of outrage, crippled by a preoccupation with technology, plundered by greedy boomers and annoyed by overly sensitive millennials. All of this is happening while we face the greatest challenge of our times, climate change.

The answer to all of these problems is simple: admit that Gen X at one point had it right and if we followed its lead, we could reverse these terrible trends. OK, it might not fix all of our woes, but the way things are going now surely aren’t working. Plus, weren’t the ’90s great?

Also, with hat in hand, I must admit that this message is for Gen Xers as well. Many of us have lost our way by forgetting our disdain for authority and skepticism toward institutions. This is a call for us to remember what we once stood for and to fight back by doing what we do best—staying above the fray.

Gen X, it’s time to strap on your Dr. Martens boots and get back to fighting the “Battle of Who Could Care Less.” It’s time we collectively got our “whatever” back and showed the other generations how powerful dismissiveness can be.

Here are the top five Gen X values that we need to embrace again.

5.  Buying vintage items

Nothing was less hip in the early ’90s than wearing mall clothes. If you had any style you shopped at a thrift store and bought used duds from the ’70s and early ’80s and remixed them into something awesome. If you were into hip-hop or skating you shopped at the surplus store and rocked some super-durable Dickies or Carhartt gear. The mood of the times was totally anti-fashion. These days, we live in a world where fast fashion is killing the environment. By embracing the Gen X value of old-school cool, we can help the planet while looking much more fashionable in the process.

4. Corporate skepticism

In the early 2000s, people fell head-over-heels in love with smartphone technology and social media so quickly that nobody stopped and said, “Hey, wait a minute!” Now, we have a world where kids are depressed, the culture has become divided and nobody talks to each other in public anymore, they just stare at their phones. I can totally understand why young millennials and Luddite boomers would fall for the big-tech ruse, but sadly, Gen X was asleep at the wheel and fell victim, too. The generation that embraced the notion that TV rotted your brain needs to remind everyone to go outside and play in the sunshine or read a book. And if you read a book it should be by Bret Easton Ellis.

3. Just say “whatever”

Two of the most popular Gen X phrases were “whatever” and “talk to the hand (because the face don’t give a damn).” These may seem to be flippant responses but they are the correct way to deal with other people’s nonsense and in 2022, we have to deal with a constant barrage of it.

Somewhere along the way, people forgot that it’s even more powerful to ignore someone than to admit they got under your skin. In the world of social media, we unintentionally amplify the most wretched voices by subtweeting, commenting and liking the posts from the army of grifters fighting for our attention.

We also live in an era where many seem to be addicted to outrage. The quickest way to stop fanning the flames of outrage is with a simple, “whatever.” Like dogs distracted by squirrels, we’ve got our heads on outrage swivels these days. Throwing around the occasional “whatever” gives us the time and energy to focus on the problems that really matter and take action.

These days “whatever” matters more than ever.

2. Bring back snobbery

Good taste used to matter. In the 2000s, millennials decided that people have the right to like what they like and that it’s worse to judge someone’s personal taste than to have bad taste. Gen Xers based their entire personalities on taste and demanded integrity from artists and were rewarded by living in a time of superior films and music. These days, no one listens to new music and we’re stuck in a world dominated by comic book movies because no one stood up and shamed people for liking low-effort culture.

1. ​Political apathy

America’s political divide has calcified over the past decade because more and more people are basing their personal identities on their politics. This has created a culture where the dialog between liberals and conservatives has become a shouting match that only makes people dig their heels in further. It’s also created a culture in Washington, D.C. that has attracted a more debased form of politician and led to the gridlock that has halted any sense of progress. Sadly, Gen X has also been sucked into this vortex.

Things were a lot different in the ’90s. Back in 1999, Ted Halstead at The Atlantic noted that Xers “appear to have enshrined political apathy as a way of life.” He added that Gen Xers “exhibit less social trust or confidence in government, have a weaker allegiance to their country or to either political party.”

Compared to what’s going on in America in 2022, this type of apathy seems welcome. Back in the ’90s, taking a “chill pill” could solve everything. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone took one, and then we could open our ears and hearts and have some constructive discussions?

There was a common lament in the 1980s that the boomer hippies had sold out and became boomer yuppies. They went from being concerned with peace, love and the planet to stocks, bonds and conspicuous consumption. Gen X is now in its 40s and 50s and it’s fair to say that we've moved from being the outsiders to creating technological and political machines that are generating the type of conformity that we once railed against.

Now that Xers are at the age where we get to run the world for a few decades, it’s time to recommit to the core values that make us well … us. The great news is that as Gen Xers, it’ll be easy to get back to our roots because we were raised to ironically love the past.


This article originally appeared on 03.10.22

Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

People are right to complain about being charged a cleaning fee and being asked to do chores.

In 2016, My husband and I started renting our basement apartment out as a short-term rental on Airbnb. We live in a college town and figured we'd get some guests during football game weekends and graduations. We didn't realize how many people come to our town to visit their college kids or check out the school, so we were pleasantly surprised by how regularly we were booked.

In 2019, we bought the house next door and now rent out both floors of the old house as separate units. We love being Airbnb hosts and have had a very successful run of it, with hundreds of 5-star reviews, Superhost status and lots of repeat guests.

We also don't charge a cleaning fee or make guests do check-out chores. In fact, we find both things rather loathsome.


What makes us good hosts is that we've been Airbnb guests for years. As a family of five that travels a lot, we've found far more value in Airbnbs than in hotels over the years. We love having a kitchen, living room and bedrooms and feeling like we have a "home" while traveling. We even spent a nomadic year staying at short-term rentals for a month at a time.

When you've experienced dozens of Airbnbs as a guest, you learn what guests appreciate and what they don't. You see what's annoying and unnecessary and what's to be expected in comparison to a hotel. We started taking mental notes long before we started our own rental about what we would want to do and not do if we ever had one and have implemented those things now that we do.

As guests, we know the pain of the cleaning fee, so we don't charge one.

via GIPHY

It helps that my husband has a flexible schedule and grew up helping with his parents' janitorial service, so most of the time he cleans the apartments himself. We could charge a cleaning fee for his time and labor, but even if we were paying for outside cleaners, we still wouldn't put a separate fee onto guest bookings. It makes far more sense to us to just wrap the cleaning fee into the per-night price.

From a host's perspective, the one-night stay is where the cleaning fee question hits the hardest. Whether someone stays one night or 10 nights, the cleaning cost is the same. But spreading the cost over 10 nights is a very different beast than adding it to one night, especially from a guest's perspective. On the host side, if we had to pay cleaners without passing that fee onto guests, we've barely make anything on one-night stays. But on the guest side, a $100 a night stay suddenly jumping to $150 because a cleaning fee was added is painful, and often a dealbreaker. You can see the conundrum.

The way we see it, and as other Airbnb hosts have found, wrapping cleaning costs into the base price comes out in the wash over time, as long as you have some longer-term stays mixed in with the one-nighters. And it's a much better experience for the guest not to get hit with sticker shock on the "final cost" screen, which is already eye-popping when service fees and taxes are added on.

(I will say, this may only ring true for smaller units. If you're renting a huge home, cleaning costs are going to be higher just because it takes longer to clean. But I still don't think the full cost should be passed onto guests as a separate fee.)

As for check-out chores—asking guests to do things like start laundry, sweep the floor, take out the trash, etc.—those have never made sense to us. Hosts should have enough switch-out linens that laundry doesn't have to be started prior to checking out, and none of those chores save enough time for the cleaning people to make it worth asking guests to do it. I can see taking out trash if there wasn't going to be another guest for a while, but usually you'd want to clean right away after a stay anyway just in case it does get booked last minute.

The only thing we ask guests to do is to start the dishwasher if they have dirty dishes (as a guest, I've never found that an unreasonable request), lock the door and have a safe trip home. Don't need to pull the sheets. Don't need to take out any garbage or recycling. Those things don't take that long, but that's just as much a reason not to ask guests to do it. Annoying your guests by asking them to do something extra isn't worth the tiny bit of time it might save the cleaning people.

And you know what? This approach works really well. Approximately 95% of guests leave the apartments clean and tidy anyway. In seven years, I can count on one hand how many problems we've had with guests leaving a mess. That's been a pleasant surprise, but I think part of the reason is that guest are simply reciprocating the respect and consideration we show them by not making them pay extra fees or do chores on their way out.

To be fair, it probably also helps that we aren't some big real estate tycoon that bought up a bunch of apartments and turning them into short-term rentals run by impersonal management companies. People's complaints about how short-term rentals impact local housing economies are legitimate. We're more aligned with the original "sharing economy" model, renting out our home to guests who come through town. And in a small college town with a large university, there often aren't enough hotel rooms during busy weekends anyway, so it's been a bit of a win-win.

I think being right next door, having personal communication with our guests (but also leaving them their privacy), and not charging or asking anything extra of them makes them want to be respectful guests. From our perspective, both as guests and hosts, cleaning fees and check-out chores simply aren't worth it.