Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
May 20, 2013
1. Imported Food Unsafe?
The rate of illness from foreign food is rising in the United States, and some observers attribute this to insufficient funding for the inspection of imported meat and poultry. Years of budget cuts have resulted in a drop in the number of inspections at foreign food factories, and some border inspections are actually being eliminated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is struggling to find funds to inspect foreign foods under a new food safety law that the U.S. Congress passed but did not fully fund. The Obama administration’s 2014 budget calls for an increase in FDA financing, but most of the money would come from fees that the food industries and Congress oppose. Health and food safety issues often make news. Find a story about a health issue in the newspaper. Use what you find and other resources to design a poster to educate people about the issue. Give your poster an eye-catching title.
Common Core/National Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
2. U.S. Cash Aids Afghan Leader
As part of United States efforts to support President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, the Central Intelligence Agency has been giving him stacks of cash, some of which has been used to pay off political groups dominated by warlords. When the New York Times disclosed this, there were protests throughout the U.S., Europe and even in some Afghan circles. Protestors say the payments undercut the American anti-corruption strategy designed to help develop a clean, credible Afghan government. If anything, the International Monetary Foundation has warned, corruption is worsening. Karzai has defended the payments, saying the policy “has helped solve a lot of our problems.” He is not believed to have profited personally from the payments, but the CIA money has proved essential to his ability to govern, Afghan insiders say. The U.S. involvement in Afghanistan continues to make news. Find a story about it in the newspaper. Write a summary of what is making news. Then write a prediction about what will happen next in the events of the story.
Common Core/National Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.
3. Sorry, Mom. It’s Mine.
NBA superstar Kobe Bryant has filed suit in court to prevent his mother from auctioning off mementos from his days playing basketball at Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Los Angeles Lakers star tells the U.S. District Court in Camden, New Jersey, that the memorabilia belongs to him, and he never gave his mother permission to get rid of it. His lawyers have written to the auction house in Berlin, New Jersey, demanding it cease the June sale. Mom received a $450,000 advance to sell the items. As a class, debate whether the items still belong to Bryant after his mother had stored them for years while he pursued his career and moved elsewhere. Under what circumstances should she be allowed to sell or get rid of them? Take a vote as a class on whether the sale should be allowed. Then write a short opinion piece for the newspaper detailing your opinion.
Common Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
4. Disabled Workers Win Case
Thirty-two mentally disabled men have been awarded a total of $240 million by federal jury for what government lawyers say was years of abuse by a Texas company that arranged for them to work at an Iowa turkey processing plant and oversaw their care, work and lodging. In the largest award in the history of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, each of the men receives $7.5 million for what the Davenport, Iowa, federal jury called “malice or reckless indifference” to their civil rights. The workers are unlikely to receive the full award, however, because the company is now out of business. Abuse of the workers began in the 1970s. They never received a raise from the $65 a month they were paid, after deductions for room and board, and their handlers subjected them to constant abuse. The rights of workers or individuals often make news. Find an example in a story in the newspaper or online. Write a paragraph summarizing the rights that are at issue, citing evidence from the text.
Common Core/National Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
5. A Slimmer Candidate?
Years ago, before TV and modern technology, an elected official’s appearance might not have been as important as it is today. One president, William Howard Taft, weighed more than 300 pounds, for example. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a similarly large man, and he recently underwent weight-loss surgery that has left him 40 pounds lighter. Though he is often discussed as a candidate for president in 2016, he says politics had nothing to do with his decision to have “lap-band” surgery that restricts the stomach to discourage eating. Though the next presidential election is more than three years away, there is much speculation about who will run. Use the newspaper to make a list of candidates being discussed for the 2016 race. Use what you find to write an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of one possible candidate.
Common Core/National Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
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