A Rebuttal of Weingarten on the Facts

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On April 13, 2016, Randi Weingarten published a blog post on Huffington Post's website, "A Coordinated National Effort to Decimate Public Schools." She makes a number of allegations about charter schools in the United States in an effort to paint a picture of large-scale conspiracy and malfeasance aimed at toppling the collective institution of public schools.

Weingarten bolsters her argument with a number of statements about charter schools and their history, performance and behavior. These include remarks about work done by the research group I direct, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. My point in this rebuttal is to set the record straight on the specific facts she has distorted. Not only are her inferences about the performance our research illuminates incorrect but her arguments undermine her own long-run interests and those of her teachers.

In her blog, Weingarten states, "A well-regarded Stanford University Study found that charter school students were doing only slightly better in reading than students in traditional public schools, but at the same time doing slightly worse in math." She refers to our 2013 study, "The National Charter School Study," but errs in both fact and interpretation. The main findings of the report are as follows. Over the course of a school year, charter school students learn more in reading than district public schools -- it is as if the charter school students attended about seven more days of school in a typical school year. The learning in math is not statistically different (not worse as she claims).

Weingarten misses three other key facts from that study, however. First, the results she cites are the average one-year growth, blending brand new charter school enrollees with students with longer persistence. When the length of time a student attends a charter school is taken into account, the results are striking: In both reading and math, we discovered that students' annual progress rose strongly the longer they attended charter schools. For students with four or more years in charter schools, their gains equated to an additional 43 days of learning in reading and 50 additional days of learning in math in each year.

Second, the results showed strong improvement for the sector overall -- the proportion of charter schools outperforming their local district schools rose and the share that underperformed shrank in both reading and math compared to performance four years earlier. The shift in performance is neither idle drift nor nefarious conduct on the part of charter schools -- we found no differences in the demography of students served by charter schools over the period.

To be clear, CREDO along with others has repeatedly called out the low performing charter schools. Evidence shows that improvement of poorly performing schools is unlikely so they must be dealt with. We hold the same view about the thousands of district schools that fail to educate their students.

Third, Weingarten ignores the most profound success of charter schools with students who need the most support. Here is the fact: Urban low income and minority students are the ones best advantaged in charter schools. CREDO released "The Urban Charter School Study" in 2015, a report conveniently overlooked by Weingarten. We found that gains in urban charter schools are dramatic overall (equivalent to 28 days of additional learning in reading and 40 days of additional learning in math every year) but for low income minority students they are nothing short of liberating: as much as 44 extra days of learning in reading and 59 extra days in math.

Weingarten's critique of charter schools has it all wrong. Parents see what happens to children in district schools -- and the lack of response on the part of the districts. Charter schools take a different approach that appeals to parents; namely, they act with the conviction that all students can learn and expect educators to modify their approach to make it happen. Nothing stops the AFT from recommending these proven practices for their own members. If Weingarten and her organization were truly dedicated to the cause of public education, they would embrace the thousands of positive examples of charter schools and seek collaboration, partnership and emulation instead of derision.

The author is Director of The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. CREDO receives partial funding from The Walton Family Foundation among other foundations, across conventional divides, with the shared goal of building excellent education for every child in the U.S.

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When We Don't Agree on Who God Is

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I grew up in a church that had a clear and precise definition of who God is. We gathered together every week to worship God and celebrate Him. We sang songs with words like, "let me tell you who Jesus is". The very fabric of our lives were woven together by our definition of him. We had a long list of dos and don'ts, just to please God and save us from a burning hell. We embraced the lists and we felt good, because we were on the straight and narrow. We were the ones who had it right, we held the corner market on God.

But there was a secret I kept hidden. There was a deep undercurrent running below everything I believed to be true about God. This undercurrent was rushing and eroding me away. This undercurrent was fear: What if I am wrong about God? What if I spend my whole life striving to please God only to get to the other side and hear him say, "Depart from me". What if I am standing in the wrong God corner?

When I was four months pregnant with our first child, my husband, Matt, and I did the unthinkable. We left our church and went to another church that believes in the same God, but defines him completely different. We moved to a different God corner. Suddenly, we were immersed into a new Christian culture who still worshipped the same God, but the old list of "dos" was now on their "don't have to" list, and our old "don'ts" now became "go for it". To put it simply, the steps to please God were reversed. We felt good, we were safe, just in a different corner.

It didn't take long before I felt the same rushing fear, eroding deep inside again.
What if I am still wrong about God?

Having stood in both corners of the God market, left us standing somewhere in the middle. I could see the truth in both definitions, but how can two different opinions both be right?

As one standing in a house of cards, my religious world began to fall apart around me. As I spun around looking for some truth to grasp on to, I didn't see just two God corners, but infinite corners shouting, "We know who God is!" Everyone standing firm on their foundations.

Except, the more I tried to define the Infinite, the more I couldn't define him. The more I tried to capture him in my hands, the more he slipped through my fingers. It's like a glass of water defining the ocean, and then that glass of water standing up and declaring, "Ocean, I understand you!"

Sure, the fluid inside of that glass is the same fluid as the sea. That's because the Sea is inside of me, I am a drop of the Infinite. So I display the same properties, I move the same way, and reflect the same image, but I am not the one who defines the infinite God. Just as the the ocean cannot be defined by the glass of water, it is God who defines me, changes me, and engulfs me.

He is who he is, powerful, and strong -- confident in who he is. I am just a piece of the infinite, and he's the one who calls me out by name and tells me, "I understand you."

That's when he began to define me with Love.

I read a scripture tucked away somewhere near the back of the Bible, "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. Perfect love casts out fear. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

Love. And not just any love -- Perfect Love.

Since, we can best understand the dynamic between humanity and God by looking at the dynamic of a family unit, I gave a questionnaire to my children asking them to answer some questions about their daddy. They were so excited, and took the activity very serious. Charis, my eldest, even wrote her answers in rainbow.

When I asked Christian, age three, "What's Daddy's name?"
He answered, "I don't know."

He proceeded to tell me his daddy is 10 years old, as big as a Ninja Turtle, and has purple eyes, but when I asked him what was his favorite thing to do with daddy, he answered, "hug and kiss." He loves his daddy because he knows his daddy loves him.

You see, not one of my children's answers defined Matt. Matt is confident in who he is, so his children's perception of him does not move him or change him. Matt wasn't hurt or angry when he read that Charis thinks he's as big as a refrigerator. He did not cast his children out into the darkness when his children disagreed on his favorite color.

Instead, as their father, Matt is the one who defines our children, and he does so with his love for them. Matt wraps his strong arms around each of their tiny bodies and says, "I love you, no matter who you think I am." It's in this love, they feel complete.

So, just like my children, we may think God's eyes are purple or that he's only 10 years old. We may not even know his name, but one thing I do know, God is love.

And that Perfect Love casts out all fear.

Charity is married with four children who inspire her to be a #GoodEnoughMom. She shares her messy love story over on her blog, Charity Craig. She has nothing figured out, but loves to write about her journey to personal freedom, marriage, and imperfect parenting. Charity also speaks domestically and is the co-founder of YoHo Disney, a Disney lifestyle blog. You can find her almost everyday on Instagram, @charitylcraig

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Why You Should Travel In Your Early 20s

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Written By: Angela Mujukian


It is essential to spread your wings and fly, step out of your comfort zone, embrace the unknown, and live life.

You should travel in your early 20s for more or less reasons that all will shape your perspective on life, make you re-evaluate where you came from, and shed some light on the direction you are headed.

Here are five reasons why you should travel in your early 20s:

1.) It gives you life perspective
Traveling makes the world you created in your head much smaller than the world that is actually outside of our psyche that we haven't explored yet. Seeing the world as it is, so much bigger than ourselves makes us realize that sometimes sweating the small stuff is not worth it.

Exploring, trying something new, and leaving our comfort zone only breathes new room for growth and metamorphosis of the person we were always meant to find within ourselves.

It definitely is an eye-opening experience, which makes us realize in some parts of the world what we take for granted on a day to day basis that we have at our fingertips.

It makes us appreciate who we are, where we came from, and appreciate our home, clothes on our back, and food on the table. It make us realize the necessities in life we often take for granted.

2.) You attain culturally competent skills
You become more open in exchanging dialogue between strangers that you 'thought' was often uncomfortable.

You can relate to just about any culture and aren't culture struck when meeting different people across the globe when you return home and are encompassed by your little nuggets of people and familiar faces.

3.) You become a better listener
Because everyone has a story. Traveling changes you.

It becomes your 'normal' habit to communicate and become a better listener.

Absorbing all the new facts, the exciting stories that people have to offer, in a sense, make you a better human being.

You become selfless and caring by investing in what others have to say, which further creates a better you - and brings out the life-long learner in you.

4.) Embracing The Unknown Will Make You Fearless Leader
Although it might sound scary at first, to take that leap of fate and enter the unknown, often it is the most rewarding and gratifying experience we can all hope for and absorb.

Going into the unknown and leaving our comfort zone is the first step or progression into the next level -you- that is waiting to come out, scream, and;

5.) You become a more adaptable creature
If you can transform from your way of living and live the life others live, beyond your religion, creed, nation, etc., you have attained the life skills of adaptability.

Often times adapting to our environment is far more essential in attaining survivor skills wherever we go.
The skill sets attained will help you face any adversity coming your way down the road and let you master any new obstacles in life through doors that haven't been opened yet.

You create new hobbies, find new talents, explore new places.

Traveling equips you with life skills that no book nor mentor can teach you. You discover new things about yourself as a person of the universe you never knew existed or was brought to light until you discover new roads, new people, and new ways of life that you had no idea existed.

Moreover, you take life experiences with you that you can pass on to people before and after you, and have more stories to share about your traveling experiences.

Traveling not only makes you a well rounded person but a world class citizen such that you may not only relate to but empathize with different vast amounts of tribes and cultures on a day to day basis that others are too narrow minded to even see. You have mastered a sense of open mindedness and vision that others cannot grasp.

For that you are a better citizen and it is your purpose to share your stories to the next traveler and embrace traveling in your early 20s to help shape the person you want to become and the people that become before and after you.

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LA native Angela Mujukian is a Medical Student at St. George's University, Elite Daily Campus Ambassador, and Jedi. When she's not being a Wizard on the wards, or doing research at Cedars-Sinai, she is co-authoring the best-selling book series and movement, 20 Beautiful Women: Volume 3 Edition. Graduate of UCLA, earning a B.A in English, Angela is trained by the LA Times as a News Reporter/Viewpoint Columnist for Daily Bruin. Tackling her dreams one patient or blog post at a time to make the world a better place. Angela's gift of tenacity, strong-will, and a refuse-to-lose attitude distinguishes her as an unstoppable force.

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Interview: Malina Moye

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Someone positively explosive, and spiritually special is just a prelude to explaining the multi talented, left handed guitarist, singer, songwriter, and luminary star, Malina Moye. Celebrated as one of the 10 best female guitarists in the entire world, and hailed "a female Jimi Hendrix", by "Guitar World Magazine", Malina will kick off her "Rock & Roll Baby" tour in Florida, followed by a European tour in support of her new release, "Are You The One".
Malina possess a unique and exceptional positive energy, which had brought her to places she use to only read about, including India and London where she was invited to honor the Queen of England. However, it wasn't always like that . She struggled, sleeping in cars, homeless, until her dream came true.

I feel very fortunate to have been able to speak with her, as she affected me in a most magical and inspirational fashion....

Girl you rock. I love that you're a left handed guitarist!

You know I come from a musical family. My mom and dad where in a band. I'll never forget my father gave me a guitar, I was like 3 years old. I wasn't feeling it. I would say, maybe when I was 9, I picked a guitar up. My father tried to make me play it like a right handed person, the correct way. It just didn't feel right because I'm naturally left handed. When he left the room, I just flipped it up side down, and started playing. Then he came back and said, " that is so backwards". I said "but this feels natural". When I got older my dad wondered why he just didn't get me a left handed guitar...I said, "dad, I was a kid, that was your job". The kicker is there are more guitars to choose from for right handed players, but now Fender endorsed me they'll make me whatever I want....but you have to get to that level first though...

I watched some of your videos, of you performing live, and like "Wow"


Thank you.

I love your new video, "Are You the One"


Thank you, we had so much fun with that.

Did you write it?


Yes. What I like about it is, like a lot of people, when you start writing with other people, you start to come up with these good ideas. People start bouncing ideas off one another, and then suddenly you can just tell when there's a magic....so we finally got the skeletons put together , and then you actually start recording it, adding more pieces....the kicker is this: with a video, the director is actually a film director that worked with Steven Spielberg, so he ended up directing this video for me, and my "Chaotic" video as well....I just remember him saying that he wanted to make it more like a film. I was like "I get that", and with the music you start to add these different layers, and you just wonder do people understand .....do people see, are listeners also seeing, you've got the lyrics, you've got the R&B style in it, the rock style in it, the hook.....do you know what I mean? So I just to really get into all that.....but when you go to radio, that's a whole other animal. For certain formats they need certain types of remixes, so it's quite interesting to see the remix that came from this song, and how it's actually starting to catch. It's making people go and start to discover the original version of the song, which I think is cool.

What was your influences growing up, did you love Jimi Hendrix?

Can I tell you something that's funny? My dad always says that people always bring up Hendrix with you, but I never played any Hendrix. Seriously. Isn't that funny? So what happens is that as you get older, and you really start to get into your instrument, you start to understand who was doing what with the guitar literally. But for me there were just so many influences, even as a singer, as a guitarist, as a performer, for me seeing Tina Turner, Prince, Michael Jackson, james Brown, and even looking at You Tube, looking at videos, just way, way back. Just to see the type of energy and power that these people would bring to music, it's just unbelievable! The art of if. I think that is something we are so desperately missing and needing, the one thing that I just feel that I hope that I bring the people for them to see what I want to put in as an artist.

You have that.


Thank you, as a player, as an artist that means everything to me. That's so important. That is everything to me. What I notice from traveling all around the world, is that there's something that's so incredible when you perform music, something that's so incredible when you're doing something that's in your element. It inspires people to want to do something that they like to do. There's this new thing that I've been working with my team on. It's a charity called, " Find The Great You". I think that everybody has something that's great about them, no matter what it is. I'm trying to encourage people to do that because whenever I get off stage and people will come to me, it's so amazing how people say to me, " after seeing your show I wanted to start a restaurant".... I said " you got that from my performance"? That's amazing! I told them that they need to make that happen. Go for that, because that's what I'm about right now.

Yes, you seem to have an energy that inspires people, I can see that in you.

Wow!

Do you feel like you were born to play music, that perhaps it wasn't a choice?

Absolutely. Some friends from like the third grade found me on Facebook. What's crazy is, they told me that when I was in third grade I was always talking about "someday I'm going to be a famous singer". I said, "I said that"? Then the kicker was that she said that I gave her an autograph and said to her to keep it because one day it's going to be worth a lot of money. The kicker was that she took a screen shot, and showed it to me. First of all I don't know if I'm embarrassed because I actually had the balls to tell her that, or the fact that she actually kept it. It was so funny, I must have been crazy. They said I was just so driven. This is exactly what I am suppose to be doing.

Well you have the talent, the look, the energy...you've got it going, the whole package!

Thank you, I appreciate it, but the thing that's crazy is, just to keep working it and to keep challenging yourself .....and with the whole platform of social media, there is good and bad with it....I've never experienced that....I thought that means I'm moving to a higher level, when you actually find people who take time out of their day to just talk about how much they hate you. In my mind I'm like "OMG", and one thing I always say is that I want to make people feel something, and I guess good or bad at least Its something. One thing I like to tell people is the reason I feel that everything is possible, is that I know where I came from. When I came here, I came here with $20 , I was literally living in the street, I would sleep in my car and put covers over my head with. Knife in the back. I would park in places where they said "Do Not Park", because I knew that if I put a sign out , please don't tow, car is broken, I knew that the cops would patrol it. So coming from that and then finding people who believe in you....I got really fortunate where I put together a business plan and I'm not gonna lie, this guy saw me and was surprised that nobody invested in me already. I knew I had to create my own lane. I thought maybe if I could do that it might open doors for other people. Low and behold the guy put up a half of a million dollars to help me start the label. So I started to really understand the business side of the music industry. There's a music industry and then there's the music business. For each moment in my life I'm just so grateful, because it is that hard.

I realize that from all my prior interviews, just how hard it is. I still don't understand how you musicians make money with all the streams and the free downloads.

Yeah. I was just having this conversation. For me now it's just all about "brand". I'm always telling everybody to enjoy what you really love. If you really enjoy it, you will make money. I've been all over the world. Places I only read about. I just came back from India, which was unbelievable. It was for the Mahindra Blues Festival. And then again, when you're honoring "The Queen of England ", ....who would have thought this would be happening. Just imago that at one point in your life, your looking on the floor for pennies to tape together to buy a sandwich, and then the next time in your life, you're in a private plane, your literally landing on the ground in the UK, and they're taking you to the top of a castle so that you can go and honor "The Queen of England".
That's why I'm saying that anything is possible. To me, just go for it. That's why I'm saying that everybody has greatness. You just gotta do the one thing that you like to do and everything else will happen. Somehow the universe.....it never fails.

I live my life by the "Secret".

The truth, I never really got a chance to read "The Secret". This is what it feels like, you put forth the effort, and you really believe, and then all of a sudden, you don't even know how this happened. Thank you so much! For me it goes like this: you have so many people that you can spend your 50-60 bucks on to go to a concert. I'm so appreciative that you chose to spend it on me. If there was something that I could do to motivate or to help you, please tell me. This is so much fun, I don't want it to end.

Www.malinamoye.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc7MLDkO7Ok

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What Should Israel Hope For after the US Elections? Not Much

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With Bernie Sanders' most recent gaffe that Israel killed "over 10,000 innocent people," and accusing it of "disproportionate" killing in Gaza during the 2014 Protective Edge campaign, the prospect of a first Jewish president is clearly far less appealing to Israel than some would have thought. And considering Hillary Clinton's entourage of Sidney Blumenthal, Huma Abedin et al., the possibility of another four years with a Democratic president in the White House seems altogether unappealing.

This, however, does not mean that Donald Trump is a far better option. If he does not "know that Israel has the commitment to make [a peace agreement]," and believes that a hall filled with a Jewish audience has "probably more [businesspersons] than any room [he's] ever spoken," it raises serious questions. It also did not help that a few minutes later he added that he knows the audience will not support him "because I don't want your money," and "You want to control your own politicians."

With the three most prominent contenders holding "questionable" views regarding Israel, and with the one clearly pro-Israel contender trailing in the polls, it would seem wise for Israel to prepare for even more "light" between itself and its biggest ally--as President Obama referred to his desire to distance the U.S. government from Israel.

But there is more to this anti-Israel trend than the U.S. elections. Throughout the world, politicians and opinion leaders express anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views freely, and often with a tone of righteous indignation. The UK Labour party has had to deal with a "seemingly unending list of anti-Semitism scandals," as Arutz Sheva's Ari Soffer put it. Sweden's Foreign Minister, Mrs. Margot Wallström, Mr. Jan Marijnissen, chairman of the Socialist Party in the Netherlands, Albrecht Schröter, mayor of the German town of Jena, and Gabor Huszar, mayor of Szentgotthard, Hungary, all pointed to Israel as a contributor to the November 13 terror attack in Paris.

With stars like former Pink Floyd front man, Roger Waters, bashing Israel at every opportunity, with the spreading of blood libels such as digging tunnels under the Temple Mount to build an underground city beneath the Dome of the Rock, with the growing momentum of anti-Israel movements such as BDS and Jewish Voice for Peace, particularly on U.S. campuses, and the increasingly active anti-Israel policy of the UN Security Council, it looks like Israel is headed straight for the rapids.

To counter this venomous wave of hatred, Israel has engaged some gifted speakers and presenters. Roseanne Barr, Yair Lapid, and other eloquent speakers do a great job at exposing the irrationality and bigotry behind Israel's bashers. But for all their efforts, and for all the efforts of the World Jewish Congress, that the state of Israel, the fact is that the world is becoming increasingly anti-Israeli.

The hatred is entrenched so deeply that nothing we will say or do in our defense will matter because people cannot listen. They are inherently predisposed to believe Israel's accusers.

Throughout history, anti-Semitism has never been rational. The truth was never an issue in the eyes of Israel haters, neither was reason. The notion that Israel is at fault for everything that is wrong with the world has prevailed over everything else, and their craving to punish, or altogether destroy Israel was uncontrollable.

Hitler, in his infamous heap of lunacy known as Mein Kampf, wrote that if "the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity and this planet will ... move through the ether devoid of men." Now that these words are being published and circulated again in Europe and the Arab world, and as otherwise legitimate political figures call this monster, "the greatest man in history," we should start thinking really hard about our next move.

But when it comes to thinking about our next move, our biggest, if not only, fault is exposed. Much has been written and said about the fragmentation of Jewish society, and the chasm between Diaspora Jews and Israel, but it is hard to overestimate the importance of this topic.

The very essence of our nation entails the tenet, "love your neighbor as yourself." At the foot of Mt. Sinai, we became a nation when we agreed to live "as one man with one heart." Moses received our code of law when he had climbed Mt. Sinai, the mountain of Sinaa [hatred]. And when we agreed to abide by the law of loving others above the hatred we became a nation. It is with good reason that Rabbi Akiva titled "Love your neighbor as yourself" as the great Klal of the Torah, because it kolel [contains] and embodies the very essence of our nation.

Our forefathers experienced conflicts and conciliations, but following King Solomon's principle that "Hatred stirs up strife, and love covers all transgressions" (Proverbs, 10:12), they learned how to overcome their egos and maintain unity through crises. When they could not cover transgressions with love, they fell into unfounded hatred and dispersed throughout the world.

Brotherhood and covering hatred with love are not archaic Biblical notions. They are imperative for our survival as a nation and as individuals because they are the source of our strength. Our nation was formed not by biological kinship or geographical proximity, but by clinging tooth and nail to these tenets. They are so much a part of who we are that one might argue that in the spiritual sense, when they are absent, the essence of Judaism fade away.

When Jews were given the task to be "a light unto nations," it was intended that they would spread the light of brotherhood and covering hatred with love. Today, this is the remedy the world needs most. The more the world declines into perpetual conflict, the more people will become enraged with us. More and more people will hold us responsible for every ill-will that surfaces in humanity, especially when it concerns conflicts within and between nations, and the irrationality of it will not make it seem any less true.

The one solution to anti-Semitism in all its forms is Jewish unity--brotherhood and love that covers all hatred. It is our utmost urgent task, and we have not even begun. The political right blames the political left, and vice versa, but neither view is right as long as it entails hatred of the other view.

We need not agree; we only need to sit together and talk, for once, like members of the same nation, about our common fate--that we are, after all, the carriers of the message of love and brotherhood to the world, but the world sees none of them coming from us. If we display unity above differences instead of the current display of fragmentation, the world will regard us differently. If we succeed in employing among us "love covers all transgressions," let alone "love your neighbor as yourself," will humanity not come and watch? Will people not want to employ unity among themselves, as well?

In one form or another, the one rule that all primary religions have "imported" from us is the rule of loving others. But we fell into unfounded hatred before we shipped out the user's manual so no one knows how to use this beautiful concept. Now we have to implement it among us and thereby demonstrate its feasibility. This is all the anti-defamation effort we should do.

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How to Become One Big Nothing: The true secret of Hollywood or any success.

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I'm an LA/NY writer guy who has been at it for almost thirty years and have only just recently realized that nothing is the hardest and most rewarding work that I've ever done.

Look, I know that your mother has always hammered at you with that giant Thor-sized hammer of hers to make something of yourself, but I'm here to tell you that you should make nothing out of your life and you will become the most creative person you have ever been.

Now I am not much of a procrastinator because the act of writing itself has over a period of time become a compulsive obsession with a fine sprinkling of pleasure.

Someone famously said you don't write because you want to. You write because you have to, so welcome to me.

I began my creative life somewhere around the age of three or four.

My mom was a tormented soul whose brain was a toxic hive of angry killer bees that stung her with each and every self destructive thought.

She would go from calm and lovely to nasty and frothing in less than an eye blink and the only way I was able to deal with her---mostly to prevent her from knocking me around---was to entertain her like Al Jolson on coke.

Make her laugh, spare the child.

And so the class clown was born.

Or I would simply duck into my room, bolt the door and "leave' the premises by entering the Disney quality fortress of my multi-storied imagination. I would wear all sorts of head to toe costumes, act out scenes or just sail on the vast splendor waters of make-believe.

That kind of behavior served me well when, after a lifetime of acting classes (which included the High School of Performing Arts and a four year drama scholarship) and a few years spent as a publicist at United Artists (which included films like Rocky 1, Network, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Love and Death and The Man With the Golden Gun) I finally ran away to Hollywood which turned out to be the equivalent of my toddler hide-out bedroom.

Almost immediately I scored six years of exclusive studio writing deals with my own office and parking spot, at Disney (!) Universal and Columbia and then eventually I either staffed, executive produced or co-created shows like Mad About You, Full House, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sister, Sister, The Wayans and on and on while writing features for everybody.

And yet: all I did was work and hold my breath for days at a time to keep my lungs from congealing from the smog.

Fact: The one thing that no one ever says to themselves in Hollywood is "I am a success" because you know that you are nothing more than OEM replacement parts.

Any Hollywood right out of the chute newborn can squint into the sunlight and already see their retired number jerseys hanging from the rafters.

Life in Hollywood is basically one, slow, circuitous ride to the gallows in a luxury foreign made car.

With that particular go-fuck-yourself-supertrain heading straight for your groin and before any young executive could confuse me with comedy legend Betty White, I moved back to my native New York and after a few years of Hollywood detox (someone has to come up with a Hollywood Rehab program for those of us who have OD'd on the attitude that we have been doing God's work because we have worked with John Stamos and Will Smith. Look--I'm still dropping names! Shit.

I have to call my sponser.

I'm back.

Hello, I'm David and I have been Hollywood sober for three seconds.

Hey, I worked with Dave Coulier! Shit.

Fact: By listening to the intimate song of my soul, while eavesdropping to the souls of others with my own, personal empathetic and deeply human stethoscope, I have slowly begun to realize that doing nothing is the deepest work that I have ever done.

Because there is no such thing as doing nothing.

Nothing is what other people say you are doing while they do the Metro North March home, not unlike Walking Dead zombies, right past their little homes of ticky-tacky, as they head straight for the edge of their suburban cliffs while guys like me quietly observe, ready to catch them, in our field of Wry,

Fact: The act of writing is not just about smacking keys on a keyboard in Starbucks.

That is called typing---which is, in fact, the only class that I ever failed.

Writing is daydreaming.

Writing is drifting one one giant invisible, inflatable life raft.

Writing is watching the wheels go round and round. And round.

Writing is subtext that cannot, will not be ignored.

When you finally calm yourself down and stop distracting yourself with your on-going marriage with your electronic devices (as in "I now pronounce you man and wifi") your truth slowly begins to rise to the surface like cream, everything begins to become mesmerizingly crystal clear, nothing intimidates you, you stop living for the approval of others and your entire fantasy life begins to take on the shape and size of a Santa Fe quality helium balloon that can take your around the world and back in seconds...and not 180 days.

Here in New York, I have opened my own little shop called "The Wit Protection Program." I began shooting comedy shorts, I wrote plays, pilots and blah blah blah blah me. (You can see our newest, now awarding winning film at: Danteandbeatricefilm.com)

Plus get this: I just beat the improbable Las Vegas-like odds and sold a new series that I co-created with (and for: because I love him and boy does he know what he's doing) Paul Reiser for the new NBC streaming network SEES0 (it's about the behind the scene world of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show set in 1972).

I gotta say I'm giggling like a belly tickled baby chimp in diapers on the Internet.

The thing is by pursuing nothing I was able to get everything and the only currency that I needed was the magical fairy tale once upon a time brain-beans of my imagination.

So, my assembled Huff Post Syndrome friends, my heartfelt wish for you is to stop DOING and start DREAMING.

Because your dreams are in fact, your own, personal, 24/7 guardian angels who will guarantee you one thing:

The single most thrilling gift of your life: flight.

And if you are really blessed, you will achieve absolutely nothing.

Lucky you.

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Yesterday Is Today: Paul McCartney Delivers in New Tour

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Paul McCartney's almost three hour, thirty plus song, sold out tour opening performance Wednesday night in Fresno for his nine city "One on One" U.S.-Canadian tour has rightly garnered near ubiquitous praise from critics and fans alike. Rolling Stone's Steve Appleford noted the show "moved gracefully from the intimate to the explosive" as the lights, pyrotechnics, backing band, historical references and imagery framed, but never overpowered the musician or his music. The San Jose Mercury News proclaimed; "Paul McCartney Soars in Fresno." One 40 something local fan Bob, proclaimed on our delayed flight to Los Angeles that this was the best concert he ever attended, while a more prolific Bakersfield rock fan, Brad, dissected the performance for its place in rock history in the style of documentarian Ken Burns.

What makes the concert so special and unique, also defies most description. At a time where many rock legends are at the twilight of their touring careers, these events have significance as personal and chronologic cultural milestones, that will set the legacy memories for multiple generations. Drug abuse denied older, at least by pop music standards, icons like Elvis and Michael Jackson the musical opportunity to musically frame the bookends of their careers.

Also, unlike bigger less friendly cities, Fresno, which proclaimed Wednesday Paul McCartney day, never saw a Paul performance and both were quite appreciative of each other. This was evidenced by the reverence of the fans who noticeably refrained from disturbance, noise or drug use (but not dancing) during the show in the newer and comfortable 16,000 seat Save Mart arena. So all there, whether local, or carpetbaggers like me waited years or traveled miles to see him, making the show, just a bit more special. Perhaps owing to the fact that this is Paul's only Golden State performance, fans flocked not only from Fresno, but from throughout California from San Diego to the Bay Area.

Along with the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, Paul has done a masterful job of capturing, not only the breadth of music that is both iconic, genre changing and emotive, but also simply fun. His opener, "A Hard Day's Night," allegedly his first live performance of the song in decades presaged both the path and history that would be made that evening as he interspersed hits with lesser known songs. The historic significance was highlighted after he recounted his meeting with Russian leaders who told him they learned English, and music to records like Love Me Do and Hello Goodbye. His vignettes about Blackbird and Civil rights, Jimi Hendrix, George on the ukulele, his bonds with John that were never fully conveyed and George Martin's talent gave the show a subtle but real documentary gift wrap.

His long time touring band of Paul "Wix" Wickens, Brian Ray, Rusty Anderson and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums were players that not only made the team's pitcher shine, but themselves as well, as part of a seamless collective effort. Whether a particular song rendition matched its historic studio doppelganger misses the point and is more suited for those who might catch the Beatles inspired Cirque de Solei Love show in Las Vegas.

Two things made the show special. First, Paul, 73, is at a stage in his life where he is probably the wisest and most comfortable he's ever been both personally and professionally, and this frames his delivery of the music. More than once he mentioned his loves and his daughter and it was clear that he was playing for them too, as his wife and daughter were in the audience. Second, as was highlighted by the background video, his fans recognize the unique place his music has not only in rock history, but more importantly in the soundtrack of their lives. Not only was Paul, authentically himself, but genuinely enjoying the moment. This included non singing instances of recounting stories of other musicians and fellow Beatles, expressing both his gratitude and inability to multitask playing with reading numerous fan signs at the same time. One fan and her children, including son Jude, even came onstage. She now has the happy dilemma of what to do with the autographed shoulder she now sports.

It is no easy balance to reproduce musical genius without deviating from the original in a way that sours the memories of it or by preforming it by mere rote or with arrogant pretense. None, here, as Paul recreated, to the extent possible, that he was at a special place playing for friends. This bond enabled him to throw in more obscure songs, though their presence never upset the balance. Most artists could have had lengthy careers on the composite of memorable songs that Paul didn't get to play such as Penny Lane, My Love and Jet, but I proffer that no one was disappointed in the least. Live and Let Die, Yesterday, Maybe I'm Amazed, Hey Jude, Let It Be, Blackbird among others kept fans on their feet until Golden Slumbers closed the music on what will go down on a historic concert that still leads us back. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Set List (Rolling Stone)

"A Hard Day's Night"
"Save Us"
"Can't Buy Me Love"
"Letting Go"
"Temporary Secretary"
"Let Me Roll It"
"I've Got a Feeling"
"My Valentine"
"1985"
"Here, There and Everywhere"
"Maybe I'm Amazed"
"We Can Work It Out"
"In Spite of All the Danger"
"You Won't See Me"
"Love Me Do"
"And I Love Her"
"Blackbird"
"Here Today"
"Queenie Eye"
"New"
"Fool on the Hill"
"Lady Madonna"
"FourFiveSeconds"
"Eleanor Rigby"
"Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!"
"Something"
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
"Band on the Run"
"Back in the U.S.S.R."
"Let It Be"
"Live and Let Die"
"Hey Jude"

Encore:
"Yesterday"
"Hi Hi Hi"
"Birthday"
"Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End"

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The Interview with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong that Will Probably Make You Smile On Even the Darkest o

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Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brings end-of-the-world enthusiasm to their high-energy psychedelic funk. Their infectious electro-funk grooves, undeniable live energy and contagious smiles have their rabid fanbase "the Flock" growing exponentially. Based out of Baltimore, MD, this animated quartet has been scorching up the country with their explosive performances and danceable peaks... and they're loving every minute of it!

I'm loving every minute of it too which is why I'm so excited to give you a little glimpse into the brains of lead guitarist and backup vocalist Jeremy Schon and lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Greg Ormont. Put on a pair of reading glasses, sit back and surrender into the magic of these two geniuses.

Taraleigh: If two celebrities had a baby and it equaled your sound, who would it be and why?

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Photo credit Keith G at Phierce Photo


Greg: That's a great question. I guess I'd say Jack Black and David Byrne cuz we're all up in your melted face. The runners up would be: Method Man and John Quincy Adams, Alex Trebeck and Yao Ming, or Herbie Hancock and Alf.

Taraleigh: I love the pictures in my head of every single one of those potential celebrity babies almost as much as I love your band. I wonder what they would be like as they grew up? Your band has grown and evolved so much since it's inception. What was the gig that had you take a couple of breaths on stage and think, "I've made it"?

Jeremy: Our sold out Halloween show at 9:30 Club in DC. We've seen so many of our favorite bands play there before, and it was incredible to see our fans fill the room!

Greg: I'd say selling out the 9:30 Club for our "Dead Zeppelin" set
last Halloween would also be my choice if I had to pick one, although playing All Good Music Festival last summer has to be a close second. All Good was the first major festival I attended and the experience was life-changing. I had the classic "a-ha, the jam scene rules" epiphany, which is a feeling of euphoria that has only grown over time. When we finally got booked for All Good, it was my chance to give back to my jam origins. We had an unbelievable crowd for our set and our energy was through the roof. It was a real full-circle moment and felt pretty surreal.

Taraleigh: I can feel that feeling you guys experienced in my bones from you talking about it and it must have been amazing. When I'm having moments like that I like to stop for a moment and breathe it all in and really feel it in all my cells. That way when I'm having a bad day I can access that feeling. I feel like I would also feel that way if I witnessed an actual pigeon playing ping pong. Have YOU ever SEEN a pigeon PLAY ping pong?

Jeremy: Only on YouTube and in nightly dreams.

Greg: One day we will surpass the views of B.F. Skinner's YouTube video
of pigeons playing ping pong. One day... :::strokes pigeon in lap:::

Taraleigh: I have faith in you! When you are super tired or having a bad show, how do you psych yourself up to perform?

Greg: We love RUNA Clean Energy drink. RUNA blasts us from 0 to 11 every
time. We call it "crack in a can," not that any of us actually know what the sensation of crack is like... but we're pretty sure it's like drinking a can of RUNA and then playing a raging set.

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Photo credit Keith G at Phierce Photo


Taraleigh: You should get RUNA to sponsor your tour, but when you're pitching it to them maybe leave the crack part out haha. In the music scene there are always a lot of collaborations. Do you have any favorites that you've been a part of?

Jeremy: We always love having guests up with us onstage. Some of our
favorite sit ins would have to be Karl Denson, Aron Magner, Tom Hamilton, Brock Butler and Steve Molitz...among many many others!

Greg: We just had an unexpected sit-in by Batman at our CD release party at Fox Theatre in Boulder on April 1st that was surprisingly solid.... And we
recently sat in as a full band with our friends BIG Something on "Disco Inferno" which was a real hoot.


Taraleigh: Besides Batman making another appearance, are there any musicians you would love to have sit in with you?

Jeremy: Page McConnell, Keller Williams and Reggie Watts.

Greg: Definitely what Jeremy said, plus Stevie Wonder, Trey Anastasio,
Kyle Hollingsworth, Tim Palmieri and Animal from the Muppet Babies,
for starters.

Taraleigh: Solid choices. Any you would love to sit on with?

Jeremy: I love sitting in with other bands, so almost anyone who has room
for open improv. But if I had to pick one it would probably have to be Phish. My dad already beat me to the Foo Fighters.

Taraleigh: For the story on how Jeremy's dad did in fact sit in with the Foo Fighters check out this link.


Greg: I'd love to play with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lotus or Phish.
But since we're talking about miracles now, I'd also like to revive Amy Winehouse and write 100 songs with her and Mark Ronson at breakfast, swing over to Jimi Hendrix's house for a jam and lobster lunch, then head to the beach for filet mignon, mahi-mahi and sing-alongs with Sting, Stevie, Amy, Billy Joel and Elton John. For dessert, a guitar lesson from Tommy Emmanuel and Trey. Maybe John Mayer, although he'd probably be too busy, even in this hypothetical.

Taraleigh: I honestly can't think of anything in the entire universe that could possibly be a better answer than that. What makes your band stand out amongst others?

Jeremy: The live energy and vibe of the show. We love playing and always
have a blast on stage, and our show is a huge interchange of energy between us and the crowd.

Greg: You've never seen a band have more fun on stage and it's
contagious as funk.

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Photo credit Justin Mierzejewski Miz Changes Photography


Taraleigh: Yeah it is! What was the best piece of advice you've received?

Jeremy: Do what you love and the money will follow.

Taraleigh: Great advice and so true. What about you Greg?

Greg: A friend once told me that I should "tone it down a bit" during
our cover of 'Psycho Killer' and I couldn't have disagreed more. I've been pushing myself to the limit ever since.

Taraleigh: Never listen to anyone who tells you to not be the fullest expression of who you are. Let that light shine for all to see and to be inspired by. Expressing gratitude for all things awesome in your life is one of the best ways to keep your light shining bright. What are you most grateful for right now?

Jeremy: The ability to be able to do what we love full time and spread
smiles across the country.

Greg: The fact that I got to do laundry yesterday.

Taraleigh: Both of those things are something to be extremely grateful for. If you're in Burlington and you need to do some laundry, let me know and I'll hook it up. What are you looking forward to? (Plug all your stuff)


Greg: We have some really big shows coming up in prestigious venues that
we've never performed at before but have been working toward for the last few years. Particularly, our debuts at Higher Ground in Burlington on 4/14, Gramercy Theatre in NYC on 4/16 and Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, VA on 4/20. We've been touring relentlessly in those towns and surrounding areas for the past few years and we're finally jumping to the bigger rooms there, feeling pumped and prepared as ever to throw it down like it's nobody's
business. Being from NY, I'm especially excited to leave our mark on the Gramercy this Saturday, plus my best friend from home who I've known since I was six was booked to open in Animal Reporters, who I've yet to see but hear great things about.

Then, we throw the Flock Party of the Year, our annual music and camping festival Domefest, which features three nights of Pigeons plus many more fantastic rising acts on May 19-21, 2016 at Fort Royale Farm in Bedford, PA. Anyone who likes our vibe will absolutely spill their
beans at Domefest!! The Flock's beans are going to be everywhere... I'm actually a little concerned about the bean cleanup this year... In fact, we still accepting bean cleanup volunteers at www.domefestival.com,
which you can also visit for the full lineup, info and tickets for
only $70!

Taraleigh: So much to be excited about!!!

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong just released a new album on April 1 titled 'Pleasure' The album is available on Spotify.



For more info like tour dates go to pigeonsplayingpingpong.com

Festival season ends in the fall, so let's keep the magic rolling until it begins again. Find out about music legend Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers and Dead & Company) and my Rock Your Life Virtual Retreat. Get on the FREE VIP wait list now to get backstage exclusives, sweet bonuses, guaranteed seats to virtual house concerts and early retreat registration to the retreat happening this September.

The awesome in me sees and bows to the awesome in you,

Taraleigh

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Russians, Republicans, and Democrats

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/living-room-conversations/russians-republicans-and-_b_9693024.html

by Mary Gaylord


Last week I went out with three girlfriends to enjoy some beer at a local brewpub. One woman I know quite well, the other casually, and the third woman was someone I was meeting for the first time. We all have kids - which is how we are connected - and we all live in the same small town of Superior, Colorado in Boulder County. As we enjoyed our finely crafted Belgian beer and pizza, the conversation ran it's typical course - schools, kids, neighborhood goings-on, etc.

Then I decided to venture into unknown and potentially dangerous territory. I asked if anyone at the table had conservative or Republican leanings. In a soft but confident voice, one woman offered that she is conservative; a self-described "Constitutionalist." A 2nd woman chimed in that she is of the same mind; a supporter of conservative values and constitutionally based policies. The other person at the table I know well, listened attentively - as I acknowledged that I already knew her leanings to be to the left. I outed myself as an independent.

The conservative leaning friends discussed their concerns about presidential candidates as well as the fact that they keep their conservative leanings quiet, knowing that Boulder County is dominated with not just left-leaners, but some very far left-leaners. We agreed that it's a sad state of affairs when people cannot feel comfortable expressing their viewpoint without fear of being dismissed, judged, or attacked.

After the initial wave of uncertainty as to the direction this conversation might take we relaxed into the realization that while our perspectives differ, we are also able to lean into the friendly and gracious manners we extend to people who live in our small community - challenging the notion that "one doesn't talk about politics in polite company." There seemed to be tacit agreement that our relationships with each other mattered more than our political differences. After all, our kids play together - what do they care when it comes to politics? Try explaining to a 4th grader that they can't play with their friend because their parents are voting for "fill-in-the-blank."

I'm reminded of a song made famous by Sting, Russians, where Sting sings:
In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria conditioned to respond to all the threats in the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets.
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you. I don't subscribe to this point of view. It would be such an ignorant thing to do If the Russians love their children too

In the current political climate, it seems we could easily replace the word "Russians" with the words "Democrats" or "Republicans" and "Mr. Khrushchev" with many of our public office hopefuls.

During the Cold War years Americans were mostly unified against the Soviets and the threat of nuclear aggression. In the present day, it seems we are anything but unified and have defined the enemy as each other. Unified doesn't mean we all must think the same thing or vote for the same person. It means we have differences and can still be unified as a community, supporting each other, and letting our children play together. I love my children and want a better life for them - I want a better example than what we are seeing, and, perhaps than we are demonstrating - I want my children to understand that differences need not divide us and that we are much more than simple labels. What about you? What do you want for your children, for yourself? And what are you willing to do to get there?


Mary Gaylord is a Program Development Partner with Living Room Conversations, an organization committed to bringing together people with differences in a friendly, structured, conversational format. She has worked as a community mediator, victim-offender reconciliation specialist, and facilitator of bully prevention programming for school-aged children. She lives in the Rocky Mountains and is passionate about spending time outdoors with family and friends.

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Dr Jill Biden A Glamorous Embodiment of the American Spirit

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WASHINGTON, DC (Herald de Paris) -- Graceful, lean and fit as a racehorse with a strong handshake that puts many men to shame, Dr. Jill Biden took the stage at the White House on Wednesday, as part of her Joining Forces initiative.

Dressed in a sleek, black, brass-buttoned, cropped jacket, Dr. Biden, a woman who herself, has suffered tremendous loss, stood resolute in her commitment and conviction to Educate the educators of the children of military families both here and overseas. The event was held in collaboration with the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) and the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Biden launched the Joining Forces Initiative with First Lady Michelle Obama with the mission to give all Americans the opportunity to step up and show their support for those who serve in the United States military. Dr. Biden said, "I have been privileged to shine a light on the thousands of families -- and children -- who have taken on these challenging roles without complaint. They are my everyday heroes who often want no acknowledgment. One of the best parts of my role as Second Lady is spending time with so many veterans and military families. As I travel to bases across the country -- and the world -- I am always inspired by their strength and resilience."

As I listened to Dr. Biden talk about her work and how she met, "Teachers in Illinois who are using writing and art therapy to help National Guard kids with deployed parents express their fear and anxiety." and the fact she met a teacher in Georgia, "Who arranges parent-teacher conferences by Skype so that a parent deployed in Afghanistan can participate," something else struck me. It was the American spirit. Here we had a woman, a high achiever yes, but in basic terms, an ordinary woman, who did not need to be doing any of this. A woman could easily put her feet up and simply be Second Lady. It made me think of First Ladies, Second Ladies, indeed, the spouses, female or male, of President's, Prime Ministers and leaders around the world. It made one think about some of the things that made America unique. America is a country that has a strong sense of giving back, where individuals rise up and stand up, to make the world better for others, even when they don't need too, or indeed, cannot afford to. More importantly, it is a country, where it is allowed and acceptable to do so.

It happens in all strata's of society in America. Currently everyday American's are battling in their individual states to raise the minimum wage from approximately $8.25 per hour to a livable $15 per hour. A minimum wage that has been raised many times in the past few years in many countries including Australia, New Zealand and Canada. "Standing up," and taking positive action, is an intrinsic part of the American spirit, it is part of what attracts others to America, it is part of what has made America build the country it has, with some extraordinary technological, scientific, cultural and artistic achievements and also lead the world in many areas. It has not been without fault at times of course, slavery a prime example, but America, considering it's size, has been relatively quick to rectify its wrongs, again with the will of the people and the will of individuals - be it Vietnam, slavery or raising the minimum wage. In the western world, the British royalty aside, there are few spouses of any leader who go out of their way to identify and create unique initiatives, and build significant resources to create betterment.

It gets right to the core of the American people. These women, Dr. Jill Biden, the First Lady Michelle Obama, and those who have come before, be it Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Reagan, don't do it because it is solely expected, they do it as it is who they are, it is who they are as Americans. Although admittedly, Ms. Clinton's reasons are more politically minded but she made great strides for women and equality. Either way, it is the humanity of being an American. That is one thing that one hopes never gets lost in this new corporate world. Dr. Biden continued, "One of the students I met that day told me that her family moved to Fort Riley in the middle of the school year, and so she missed the auditions for the school play. But, because her teachers knew how difficult transitions and starting over can be, they gave her the opportunity to be part of it. That doesn't always happen for military students."

Dr. Biden is right, and one can only imagine the impact that had on this child's life -be it school play, sports fields, attention can be made and must be made to the individual child - whether its military family, or indeed otherwise.

Dr. Biden said that Fort Riley, which has 8000 military children, "Represents what I hope all schools could do for our military families: a community-wide effort -- one in which Kansas State University has invested heavily in educating their teachers -- to better serve the needs of their military students." Dr. Biden pointed out that, "Not every public school is in a military community where nearly all of the student population is military-connected. Not every teacher, faculty member and administrator lives the same life as military families do, day in and day out. And, in some cases, not all public schools and teachers have been afforded the opportunity and resources they need to truly understand how to recognize and support the needs of these unique and inspiring students."

The tenacious Dr. Biden has deftly targeted a matter that has been largely overlooked. She along, with Michelle Obama, is in the process of making a difference and creating a movement in the United States and around the world, to be aware of what children of military families deal with in terms of constant moves and transitions.

In closing, Dr. Biden stressed how the smallest act of kindness can make more of a difference in the lives of so many military students and their families than anyone might realize. And that is exactly what is needed around the world-for all people. Loving kindness. As I said in my award winning film Buddha Wild, http://www.buddhawildfilm.com it is not just enough to say have, "Loving kindness." You have to do it. You must act. You must do it.

Photos:Anna Wildinghttp://www.annawilding.net Photos AnnaWilding.net - See more at: http://www.heralddeparis.com/dr-jill-biden-a-glamorous-embodiment-of-the-american-spirit/#sthash.ecBEdyx2.dpuf

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