, week of
Feb. 01, 2016
1. ‘Solitary’ Banned for Juveniles
President Obama has banned solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in federal prisons. It’s one of a series of executive actions he said he hopes will serve as a model for states to rethink their criminal justice systems. In addition to banning solitary for juveniles, the new rules reduce the maximum time any federal prisoner can be punished with solitary punishment from 365 days to 60. The reforms come months after President Obama ordered a Justice Department study of how the Federal Bureau of Prisons uses solitary confinement. The treatment of juvenile offenders has drawn attention in states all across the country. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how juvenile offenders are treated in jail. Use what you read to write an editorial for the newspaper, giving your opinion on changes you would like to see in the treatment of juvenile prisoners.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. 62 Control Half Wealth
Just 62 people control more than half the world’s wealth, according to an Oxfam International study released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Far from trickling down,” the report declares, “income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate” toward people who are already at the top of the income ladder. Oxfam notes that in 2010 half of the world’s wealth was held by 388 people, but now it is held by one-sixth that number. The report of the anti-poverty advocacy group lists several reasons for the increasing disparity between rich and poor, including “the global spider’s web of tax havens, and the industry of tax avoidance, which has blossomed.” Income inequality is an issue getting increased attention in the United States and other nations. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about people or groups addressing income inequality. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper describing efforts to call attention to income inequality and find ways to reduce it.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Univision Invests in The Onion
Univision Communications, the Spanish-language media giant, has acquired a large stake in The Onion, the online comedy and satirical group. Univision called The Onion website — www.theonion.com — “an incredibly engaging format” for younger audiences, and said its investment would extend Univision’s “robust content offerings in Spanish and English.” The Onion had been searching for a corporate partner to help it grow. “We’ve always been forced to run a tight financial ship,” The Onion’s CEO told employees, “which has made us smart and lean, but not always ready to invest in the great new ideas that we come up with.” The Onion produces a kind of humor called satire by making fun of real events, or making up events that sound real but are ridiculous. With a partner, visit the website for The Onion and see how they make news seem funny. Then find a news story in the newspaper that interests you. Rewrite the news story in a silly or outrageous way as satire. Share satires as a class, and critique each other’s work.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
4. Top Job: Data Scientist
If you are starting to think about a career, you might check the list of the Top 25 jobs in the United States put together by the job-placement company Glassdoor. No. 1 on this year’s list is data scientist, which Glassdoor says is “the hottest and fastest growing” job. Other jobs in the Top 10 are tax manager (2), solutions architect (3), engagement manager (4), mobile developer (5), human relations manager (6), physician assistant (7), product manager (8), software engineer (9) and audit manager (10). The job ratings were based on data on salaries and career opportunities from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. What kind of career interests you — and what education or training is needed for it? In the newspaper or online, search the Help Wanted ads to find a job that interests you. Read the training, experience and education needed for the job. Then go online and find three colleges or training schools where you could get the education or training for the job. Rate the schools for cost, location and reputation. Write a paragraph explaining which school would be the best choice for you.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
5. Saudi Cleric ‘Forbids’ Chess
Saudi Arabia’s top religious leader has “forbidden” chess, calling the game “the work of Satan,” like alcohol and gambling. Chess is very popular in the Arab world, but Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh has declared it a waste of time and money and says it creates hatred between players. The grand mufti’s fatwa (religious decree) preceded a major chess tournament in the holy city of Mecca. Chess remains popular in the Middle East nation, however. The Saudi Chess Association notes that it has held 70 tournaments in the kingdom, and players have included a prince from the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation in which religious leaders have great influence. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the influence of religion in Saudi Arabia. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video comparing the role of religion in Saudi Arabia and the United States. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene in the form of a movie screenplay.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.