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Those controversial tests your child is about to take in school? You can opt them out.

There is a lot of debate about Common Core and how it's been implemented.

The time has come, my friends, for Common Core testing. You may have heard of it. It's made numerous news segments recently because not only is Common Core controversial, but loads of parents and kids are actually choosing to NOT take the tests (which are happening now-ish). The refusals are happening in nearly every state that's adopted Common Core tests, but one of the biggest opt-out states so far has been New York.

Before we go into that, you'll need some good starting information about Common Core. With so much confusion, a lot of parents just don't know where to start. There are many links throughout this piece that you can follow to help get you up to speed. And there's a video at the end if you don't feel like reading, but the breakdown here is a good place to start.


What Common Core is:

The idea is to have a national set of standards, or a "common core," for students to meet before college admission. Before this set of standards it was up to each state, and colleges were getting kids who all graduated high school but had completely different proficiency levels in reading and math.

It's easy to see why a national standard appeals to people. It helps to develop college curriculums that make our upcoming workforce and talent competitive with the workforce and talent of other countries by ensuring that college-track kids get to about the same place by the end of high school.

Here's what Common Core is not:

It's not a specific curriculum. How districts choose curriculums to get kids to the established benchmarks of proficiency is their choice. While that's good in a way, it's also been confusing for districts because the tests have been enacted before the schools had sufficient time to research and implement new curriculums. Some districts have even been preyed upon by for-profit companies claiming to sell curriculum packages (textbooks and workbooks) already aligned with Common Core, which are actually about the same as previous textbooks, but with a “Common Core approved" sticker slapped on.

Here's why some people are super into Common Core:

Common Core has been touted as a better way to:

  • Teach kids to separate fact from fiction: Having kids compare two versions of something and pick apart which is more likely to be true is a tenet of reading comprehension benchmarks.
  • Allow states to collaborate on textbooks and digital tools: Having uniform standards means that each state doesn't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to developing systems.
  • Incorporate technology into learning seamlessly: By placing emphasis on tech skills throughout the learning and the testing, it aims to prepare kids for the work skills they'll need.
  • Teach speaking and listening skills: Starting in kindergarten, showing an understanding for rules of conversation like taking turns and asking questions is part of the benchmarks.
  • Teach critical thinking skills: By including questions that push students to make callbacks to the reading material, the tests aspire to hone critical thinking abilities.
"Common education standards are essential for producing the educated workforce America needs to remain globally competitive."

— Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel Corp.

Why some people are really against Common Core:

In terms of how Common Core actually shapes up in the classroom, there are a lot of valid concerns. Interestingly, the criticisms come from progressives and conservatives alike. Here are some common themes.

"I have come to the conclusion that the Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation."

— Diane Ravitch, education historian who was U.S. assistant secretary of education under two presidents and formerly supported Common Core

That's a boiled down version of the basics of the Common Core debate. And here's where it leaves us.

What is clear is that it's crucial to figure out a healthy way to challenge every child to their true potential and to remain competitive with students from other countries.

What is less clear is whether Common Core is the right vehicle to get us there.

If you like Common Core and think the testing that goes with it should move ahead, there's good news for you. It is being implemented across most of the country this year. It is here and it is happening.

But what's a parent with concerns (or flat-out objections) to do?

It turns out, there's an option for them, too.

It's called the United Opt Out movement, and it's growing in popularity.

It's pretty much a huge wave of parents across the country — stronger in some of the 43 states enacting this testing than others — that is telling the schools that their children are not going to be taking the tests. New York parents have gotten the movement started, and in Long Island, 65,000 of approximately 144,000 students opted out of the tests as of April 2015. The bet here is that if state departments of education can't get enough compliance with the tests, eventually states will revise their tactic and choose another way.

As with any serious decision involving education, there are some pros and cons to making this choice, but it's good to know that parents and students actually have an option.

If opting out of Common Core testing may be the right choice for your family, take some time to find out your state's stance on it.

You can do that by checking out the opt-out guides and choosing your state from the drop-down menu.

In some cases, it's as simple as sending a letter to your child's school.

And if you do take that route, you're not alone. Check out this video that covers some of the protests happening:


There's a lot to consider here, but the the best place to begin is with information. It might prove helpful to show this to other parents you know and see what they've been thinking about this. It's our nations' kids' education for the next ... really long time, potentially. It's kind of a big deal.

Images provided by P&G

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

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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

Family

Supportive husband writes a fantastic 'love list' to his depressed wife

“He knows I struggle to see good in the world, and especially the good in myself. But here it is."

Image from Imgur.

Husband shares a list of love with his wife.

Imgur user "mollywho" felt her life was falling apart. Not only was she battling clinical depression, but she had her hands full.

"I've been juggling a LOT lately," she wrote on Imgur. "Trying to do well at work. Just got married. Couldn't afford a wedding. Family is sparse. Falling out with friends, yaddadyadda.”

She was also upset about how she treated her new husband.

"I've not been the easiest person to deal with. In fact, sometimes I've lost all hope and even taken my anger out on my husband."



When she returned home from a business trip in San Francisco, mentally exhausted, she collapsed on her bed and cried. Then she noticed some writing on the bedroom mirror. It was a list that read:

Reasons I love my wife

1. She is my best friend
2. She never quits on herself or me
3. She gives me time to work on my crazy projects
4. She makes me laugh, every day
5. She is gorgeous
6. She accepts the crazy person i am
7. She's the kindest person i know
8. She's got a beautiful singing voice

9. She's gone to a strip club with me
10. She has experienced severe tragedy yet is the most optimistic person about humanity i know
11. She has been fully supportive about my career choices and followed me each time
12. Without realizing it, she makes me want to do more for her than i have ever wanted to do for anyone
13. She's done an amazing job at advancing her career path
14. Small animals make her cry
15. She snorts when she laughs

love letters, support, marriage, mental illness

The list of love.

Image from Imgur.

This amazing show of support from her husband was exactly what she needed. "I think he wanted me to remember how much he loves me," she wrote. "Because he knows how quickly I forget. He knows I struggle to see good in the world, and especially the good in myself. But here it is. A testament and gesture of his love. Damn, I needed it today…"

She ended her post with some powerful words about mental illness.

"I'm not saying mental illness is cured by nice words on a mirror. In fact, it takes professional care, love, empathy, sometimes even medication just to cope. Many people struggle with it mental illness - more than we probably even realize. And instead of showing them hate or anger when they act out. Show them kindness and remind them things can and WILL get better. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. If that person can't be you - see if you have any resources for therapy."


This article originally appeared on 12.10.15

Pop Culture

Nicole Kidman shares the unconventional marriage rule she has with husband Keith Urban

They've had this communication rule since the very beginning of their 18 year relationship.

Keith Urban (left) Nicole Kidman (right)

Long before Nicole Kidman began her long-term relationship with AMC theaters, she was committed to husband and country singer Keith Urban. The two have happily been together since 2006—which is a good run for any modern day marriage, but most certainly a Hollywood one.

And perhaps their nearly decades-long success can be partially attributed to one surprising communication rule: no texting.

While appearing on the Something To Talk About podcast in 2023, Kidman shared that she was the one who initiated the unconventional agreement.

"We never text each other, can you believe that? We started out that way – I was like, 'If you want to get a hold of me, call me…"I wasn't really a texter.,” the “Moulin Rouge” actress shared.

She added that while Urban did attempt texting her a few items early on, he eventually switched when Kidman wasn’t very responsive. And now, 18 years later, they only call each other.

“We just do voice to voice or skin to skin, as we always say. We talk all the time and we FaceTime but we just don’t text because I feel like texting can be misrepresentative at times…I don’t want that between my lover and I,” she told Parade

.

There are, of course, some pros and cons to calling over texting. Research has shown that people who call feelmore connected to one another vs. texting, with the voice being an integral component of bonding. As our society becomes increasingly more distant and lonely, finding those moments might be more important than ever.

At the same time, calling can invoke a lot more anxiety compared to texting, which could lead someone to not communicating at all. Also, I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to call my partner for mundane things like “don’t forget the eggs” would drive me crazy.

But regardless of whether or not you adopt Kidman and Urban’s no-texting rule, perhaps the bigger takeaway is that relationship longevity depends on being able to establish your own rules. One that feels good and that each partner is able to stick to. Especially when it comes to communication.

As Urban himself told E! News at the CMT Music Awards, "I have no advice for anybody,You guys figure out whatever works for you…We're figuring it out. You figure it out. Everybody's different. There's no one size fits all."

Luckily, there are many ways to have good text hygiene, without having to do away with it completely. Very Well Mind suggests to avoid texting too many questions, and to be respectful of your partner's schedule (probably best to not text them while they’re sleeping just to say “hey,” for example). Nor should texting be used to argue or deal with conflict. Lastly, probably save the lengthy, in-depth conversations for a phone call. Fifteen heart emojis are totally fine though.

Doris Alikado talks about her personal experience of maternal health in Tanzania.

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Stella Artois


Bathrobe. Socks. Insurance card. Snacks.

Sound at all familiar? Maybe, maybe not.


These items would commonly be found on a checklist of things that expecting parents should bring to the hospital with them — in the U.S., anyway.

environment, health, health wellbeing

Doing the checklist.

Image created from Pixabay.

But what is that list like in other parts of the world?

For Doris, that list included water.

Doris, who lives Morogoro, Tanzania, had to bring her own water to the health center where she was giving birth in 2014. The water she brought was used to clean the nurse's hands, clean the delivery area, and wash the babies (she had twins!). Unfortunately, the water Doris brought ran out before she was able to wash herself or her clothes, so she had to wait 24 hours before cleaning herself.

parenting, parenting and children, Tanzania

Doris and family lives in Morogoro, Tanzania.

via GQ/YouTube

I'll let Doris tell the story herself:

Lack of access to clean water in Tanzania is a very big deal.

Everything turned out alright for Doris and her babies, but thousands of other women aren't as lucky. But there are ways to help: Organizations and individuals are pitching in to help build water taps, rainwater tanks, and latrines in Tanzanian hospitals, and they're making a huge difference.

"I want to express my gratitude to the health workers ... because they have a great sense of humor with the patients. But the problem is the availability of enough water." — Doris Alikado


This article originally appeared on 03.26.15

New baby and a happy dad.


When San Francisco photographer Lisa Robinson was about to have her second child, she was both excited and nervous.

Sure, those are the feelings most moms-to-be experience before giving birth, but Lisa's nerves were tied to something different.

She and her husband already had a 9-year-old son but desperately wanted another baby. They spent years trying to get pregnant again, but after countless failed attempts and two miscarriages, they decided to stop trying.


Of course, that's when Lisa ended up becoming pregnant with her daughter, Anora. Since it was such a miraculous pregnancy, Lisa wanted to do something special to commemorate her daughter's birth.

So she turned to her craft — photography — as a way to both commemorate the special day, and keep herself calm and focused throughout the birthing process.

Normally, Lisa takes portraits and does wedding photography, so she knew the logistics of being her own birth photographer would be a somewhat precarious new adventure — to say the least.

pregnancy, hospital, giving birth, POV

She initially suggested the idea to her husband Alec as a joke.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"After some thought," she says, "I figured I would try it out and that it could capture some amazing memories for us and our daughter."

In the end, she says, Alec was supportive and thought it would be great if she could pull it off. Her doctors and nurses were all for Lisa taking pictures, too, especially because it really seemed to help her manage the pain and stress.

In the hospital, she realized it was a lot harder to hold her camera steady than she initially thought it would be.

tocodynamometer, labor, selfies

She had labor shakes but would periodically take pictures between contractions.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Eventually when it was time to push and I was able to take the photos as I was pushing, I focused on my daughter and my husband and not so much the camera," she says.

"I didn't know if I was in focus or capturing everything but it was amazing to do.”

The shots she ended up getting speak for themselves:

nurse, strangers, medical care,

Warm and encouraging smiles from the nurse.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

experiment, images, capture, document, record

Newborn Anora's first experience with breastfeeding.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Everybody was supportive and kind of surprised that I was able to capture things throughout. I even remember laughing along with them at one point as I was pushing," Lisa recalled.

In the end, Lisa was so glad she went through with her experiment. She got incredible pictures — and it actually did make her labor easier.

Would she recommend every mom-to-be document their birth in this way? Absolutely not. What works for one person may not work at all for another.

However, if you do have a hobby that relaxes you, figuring out how to incorporate it into one of the most stressful moments in your life is a pretty good way to keep yourself calm and focused.

Expecting and love the idea of documenting your own birthing process?

Take some advice from Lisa: "Don't put pressure on yourself to get 'the shot'" she says, "and enjoy the moment as much as you can.”

Lisa's mom took this last one.

grandma, hobby, birthing process

Mom and daughter earned the rest.

Photo via Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

This article originally appeared on 06.30.16