Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? A Texas school district reversed its decision to place a teacher on administrative leave over Black Lives Matter, a pro-LGBTQ poster, and feminist posters displayed on the wall of her virtual classroom. Taylor Lifka, who’s an English teacher at the Roma High School in Roma, a Border Town of around 10,000 people, was placed on leave after parents complained about her posters. Speaking with NBC News, the 25-year-old said the experience of having national attention about her classroom has been overwhelming. She stated, “Our nation is in a really divisive state right now, and so when something like this comes out that a teacher is being placed on administrative leave because of parents’ concerns over teaching tolerance in the classroom, that’s a bigger question.” Roma Independent School District superintendent Carlos Guzman did release a statement, saying that the district “regrets that this matter has become a point of controversy.” He then said it was never the intention of the district to indicate the lack of support for the concepts of student safety and equality. Prior to her reinstatement, the Texas teacher stated this wasn’t the first time a parent was upset and it wasn’t the first time that a parent asked for their child not to be in a specific classroom. She added, “I’ve already told the administration that I do not envy their position. Your job sometimes might seem like a job where you need to please, and while this might be challenging, I think that sometimes we need to do the right thing even though it’s going to upset some people.” An online petition was started last week asking the Roma ISD to reverse its decision and reinstate the teacher. The petition asked people to sign a petition and let the school district know that inclusivity and acceptance “are not taboo ideas that deserve censorship.” It also noted that several high school students should be allowed to discuss the realities, such as concepts of equality, of the world instead of just being sheltered inside “a sanitized bubble.” It noted that the 25-year-old was trying to create a safe space for students and how the school was not being neutral and was taking a stance that is antithetical to justice. The petition was started by community members of a local LGBTQ rights group, South Texas Equality Project, and has had over 30,000 signatures the day after the district reversed course. Ms. Lifka didn’t note that it was not clear whether the petition played a role in getting her job back, but she was inspired by those who signed on and gave her full support. In her online profile for the Roma Independent School District, the teacher wrote that she fell in love with the border culture and the tight-knit community of the Rio Grande Valley back in 2017 when she worked there as a Teach for America member. The Texas teacher said she was told about her Administration leave being reversed through Zoom by school officials, noting, “They say I haven’t been punished, and that’s fine, but at the same time I’m a human being and this has been challenging. To think about re-entering the classroom tomorrow gives me a lot of pause, because I need a moment to collect myself. I need support from the administration, knowing I can re-enter the classroom, that we are all on the same page knowing what I can and cannot say to my students.”
A group of Coast Guard members enjoying a swim while out in the middle of the ocean after “completing operations” had their afternoon go from fun to frightening when an 8-foot shark crashed the party. Fortunately for the Coast Guard members who were out swimming in the ocean they are, you know, in the Coast Guard, which meant there were people who know a lot about open water safety and were armed to the teeth nearby to handle their hungry party crasher. And fortunately for us they filmed it and posted it to social media. Here's a screen shot...
This is certainly a pretty surreal sight for anyone to see, even if you’re used to working out on the open sea, but it seems reasonable to assume that these Coast Guard members weren’t exactly that rankled by all of this. You couldn’t possibly be safer from a shark unless you were literally on land. The nearby boat loaded with big huge guns helps. Plus everyone out there was probably a pretty good swimmer. They aren’t going to give Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky a run for their money but they can probably swim back to their boat faster than the average American floating around in the ocean, nine White Claws deep and halfway to a sunstroke. RIP to that unicorn float though.
With everything that’s been going on recently, communities coming together to support those within who are needing it, is more important now more than ever. And this neighborhood in Tustin, California, a community about 30 miles outside of Los Angeles, is making sure that they do care for those who make a significant impact on their residents. Ice cream man Jose Ortega drives his ice cream truck around for his close-knit Tustin neighbors. Everyone’s families get so excited with their money in hand, ready to satisfy their summer cravings with some cool and icy sweet treats. The community has a Friday afternoon tradition where the kids come out when Ortega comes through with his ice cream truck. The adults enjoy a happy hour while their kids are buying ice cream, and the whole event is followed by a barbecue that the neighbors take turns hosting. However, as Ortega was making his usual route around the Tustin cul-de-sac one day, the community noticed that he wasn’t making his usual rock-star entrance, since he was in the passenger seat of his ice cream truck this time with his son driving instead. Two weeks prior, the 44-year-old beloved ice cream man had suffered a heart attack, but had immediately returned to work because he, “didn’t want to disappoint the kids,” according to resident Michael Hatcher, who organized the fundraiser. When the Southern California neighborhood found out about his heart attack, they decided that it was their turn to help Ortega the way he has helped their community. They started a GoFundMe page to cover his medical bills. And within four days, 185 donors gave $10,474. And on Friday, August 21st, 2020, the community presented his with the check. In tears, Ortega replied, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” But it didn’t end there. Tustin Councilwoman Letitia Clark presented Ortega with a letter of commendation on behalf of the city saying, “You have made such an impact on people’s lives.” And she wasn’t wrong with how the community talked about their neighborhood ice cream man. According to the Orange County Register, “Parents credit Ortega with playing a big role in their bond.” Rob Johnson said, “Jose is a community builder. We all come out to our front yards whenever he appears. Our kids can hear him from a mile away.”
Well, this must be nice. It looks like Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, is breaking records left and right. Yes, the world’s richest man has crossed a new milestone that will make us all jealous. The Amazon CEO became the first person to top $200 billion in net worth, according to Forbes’ real-time data on billionaires. Oh, to be on that list. We can dream, right? The 66-year-old owns 11 percent of Amazon stocks, which has skyrocketed amid the COVID-19 pandemic as people are at home, and demand for e-commerce and online shopping has soared, especially with Amazon Prime. In April 2020, his net worth was a mere $113 billion, according to Forbes. Amazon stock was up over 95 points, 2.85 percent, on Wednesday. Bezos’s net income comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken over the United States economy and highlights the diverging experience in the pandemic. As far as the second richest person, Bill Gates, he still lags billions of dollars behind Bezos. The Microsoft co-founder was worth $116.2 billion on Wednesday according to Forbes. Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994, has broken several records with his wealth. Back in 2017 who became the richest person on the planet. And in case you were wondering, others notorious billionaires have also been getting wealthier during the coronavirus pandemic, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who is dubbed a “centibillionaire” after his wealth surpassed $100 billion. Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk is also on the list with a net worth of $96 billion. Although Amazon is Bezos’ biggest asset, it is not the only brand he oversees. Outside of the company, he also owns Blue Origin which is an aerospace company he founded in 2002, and the Washington Post newspaper in which he acquired in 2013. Surprisingly enough, Bezos’ fortune would actually be higher if had he not gone through one of the most expensive divorce settlements in history last year. When he split from his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, he agreed to give her 25 percent of Amazon shares, which is now worth $63 billion. Even after giving away $1.7 billion in charitable gifts earlier this year, Scott is currently the world’s 14 richest person and the second richest woman behind L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.
The world is still reeling from the unexpected passing of Chadwick Boseman but there is hope from all the positive messages about the Black Panther star. Interestingly, even former U.S. president Barack Obama had an amazing story to tell about his encounter with Boseman. Obama took to his official Twitter account to share one of Boseman's old tweets that showed their meeting at the White House several years ago. The former president then shared a heartwarming tribute to the late actor.
I hate the taste of pumpkin stuff. In many places, masks are mandatory, so you as well make it your own. There's a mask for every fashion and fandom, and there can also be a mask for every face. People order custom-made masks with photos of their face on them to try and achieve a realistic look. Try being the most important word.