Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - March 13 Edition


“As data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights shows, Black girls are more likely to be suspended than any other group of students other than Black boys. Nationwide, Black girls are 5.5 times more likely than white girls to be suspended from schools across several states. In the District of Columbia, Black girls make up 73% of girls enrolled in schools, and 94% of all girls suspended. This is not a result of worse behavior in classrooms, but the result of racist stereotyping of Black women as aggressive or hypersexual. Half of Black girls’ suspensions are for minor offenses such as violating the dress code, chewing gum, or talking back to a teacher. These behaviors don’t pose threats to classmates or disrupt teaching. But they challenge society’s idea of femininity– white femininity.

As a result, these girls are seen as disruptive and unfit for the classroom environment.

Even when students’ behaviors rise beyond these minor, subjective offenses, there are many creative solutions schools can employ other than immediately suspending or expelling students of color. Schools can start teaching conflict resolution practices, yoga, or meditation, all of which target the issue head on and are valuable skills for later life as well. Schools could also bring kids in the classrooms together to solve problems as group. Or, as an alternative to focusing on the punishment, schools can start focusing on prevention. Finally, instead of spending money on law enforcement officers, schools can hire more counselors who have experience with kids going through issues.

The stakes are just too high to push girls out of school. Studies have shown being suspended once increases a child’s chance of dropping out of school.”

Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis, Good Deeds

“Will and Jaden Smith founded JUST in 2015 to provide a green alternative to plastic bottles and to invest in communities. JUST’s bottles are 82 percent plant-based, and the company has initiated long-term investments in Glens Falls, New York, the city where the water is sourced.

The Flint water crisis became a national topic in 2014 after city officials began using the Flint River as the town’s main water source. The city’s pipes were dangerously corroded, and they polluted the water with dangerously high levels of lead. In one study, the Environmental Protection Agency found lead levels in the city’s water to be as high as 397 parts per billion, far above the federal limit of 15 ppb.”

Legacy, School Lunches, Good Deeds

“The initial intention was to raise $5,000 to pay off the lunch debt at J.J. Hill, knowing that Castile himself would regularly dip into his own pocket to ensure kids who had no money could still get their lunch.

But as the money rolled in, the fundraisers broadened their goal, attempting to feed all students in St. Paul.

And they did just that, FOX 9 reports that this week they presented a check of more than $106,000 to St. Paul schools that is enough to cover the lunch debt of all 56 public schools in St. Paul.

"That means that no parent of the 37,000 kids who eat meals at school need worry about how to pay that overdue debt," fundraisers wrote on YouCaring.

"Philando is STILL reaching into his pocket, and helping a kid out. One by one. With your help," it added. "Your donations will fill that pocket for years to come. Thank you for your generosity."”

Medical Debt, Good Deeds

““In 2014, Ashton joined up with Craig Antico, who also worked in debt collections, to form RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit organization, which focuses on buying and forgiving medical debt.

Their effort went slowly at first. “The first couple of years our wives were wondering why we were going into debt to get other people out of debt,” he said. “We were struggling.”

“If it had not been for John,” he said, “we would be standing on a street corner with a paper cup."

Ashton is referring to John Oliver, who, on a June 2016 episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, did a scathing report on credit collection practices and the people targeted with repeated phone calls, calls to employers, garnishing wages, court cases, and so on.

It’s all too common an experience: About a third of Americans with credit were contacted by a debt collector or creditor within a year of a recent survey by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Of those, more than half of people who were contacted about a past-due bill were contacted about a medical bill.

Oliver, after excoriating the medical debt system and the politicians who enable it, made an announcement. He had formed a collection agency of his own (which, he said, proves that a complete idiot can create a collections agency), and—with no credentials apart from a minimalist website—purchased nearly $15 million worth of debt for just under $60,000, less than half a cent on the dollar. This purchase entitled him to the names, current addresses, and social security numbers of those who owed the debt, even if the debt was so old it was called zombie debt. And with this information, he acquired the right to try to collect debt.””

Read more to find out what happened next.

Environment, Energy, Regulations

“President Donald Trump’s administration has been on a deregulatory bender, particularly when it comes to environmental regulations. As of January, the New York Times counted 67 environmental rules on the chopping block under Trump.

This is not one of Trump’s idiosyncrasies, though. His administration is more ham-handed and flagrant about it, but the antipathy it expresses toward federal regulation falls firmly within the GOP mainstream.

Republicans have been complaining about “burdensome” and “job-killing” regulations for so long that their opposition to any particular health, safety, or environmental regulation is now just taken for granted.

For instance, why would the Environmental Protection Agency close a program investigating the effects of toxins on children’s health? Is there some evidence that the money is wasted or poorly spent? Why would the EPA allow more unregulated disposal of toxic coal ash? Don’t people in coal regions deserve clean air and water? Is there any reason to think coal ash is currently well-regulated?

These questions barely come up anymore. Republicans oppose regulations because they are regulations; it’s become reflexive, both for the party and for the media the covers them.

The report was released late on a Friday, with Congress out of session and multiple Trump scandals dominating the headlines. A cynical observer might conclude that the administration wanted the report to go unnoticed.

Why might that be? Well, in a nutshell, it shows that the GOP is wrong about regulations as a general matter and wrong about Obama’s regulations specifically. Those regulations had benefits far in excess of their costs, and they had no discernible effect on jobs or economic growth.”

Career Advice, Inspiration

Chelsea Handler is the author of five New York Times best-selling books.

She runs her own company, Borderline Amazing Productions, and makes a multi-million dollar living as a woman in comedy, an industry dominated by men.

In 2012, she made Time Magazine's list of Most Influential People, and she has also been on Forbes' Celebrity 100 list.

She is, by all accounts, extremely successful.

But she didn't start out that way. She wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth; in fact, her first job was as a waitress, where she brought spoons to others.

It was during that waitressing gig at 23 years old that she learned a lesson that would serve her for the rest of her career, and what she passes along now as her best career advice:

"When you make a commitment, keep it."”

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