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Lessons for

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Grades 5-8

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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of May 06, 2024

1. HISTORY THREATENING TO REPEAT

As campus protests continue across the US in response to the Israel-Hamas war, the country faces the anniversary of a grim campus protest turned deadly more than 50 years ago. On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent State University’s campus, where students were protesting the Vietnam War. Four students were killed and nine were injured in the shooting, which followed tear gas from the troops and rocks thrown by protestors during the anti-war demonstration. The 54-year anniversary happens as 2,400 people have been arrested in college protests across the country, with police in riot gear breaking up encampments and removing protesters from occupied buildings. Read Kent State survivor Dean Kahler’s interview with the Associated Press as he reflects on the current protests and the one that almost took his life. Then, write an article that summarizes the events at Kent State and how the current protests are similar and different from that period in American history.

2. STUDYING SIDE EFFECTS

While the Covid-19 vaccine was important to saving lives and preventing millions of hospitalizations and deaths, even the best vaccines can have rare but serious side effects. A small group of people believe they experienced severe side effects from Covid vaccination—some 13,000 vaccine-injury compensation claims have been filed with the federal government, though only 12 have been paid out. Many experts worry that post-vaccine injuries are being dismissed by federal health officials. Because the United States doesn’t have a central data bank for medical records or vaccine recipient information, it’s difficult to pinpoint rare side effects. There’s also concern that any mention of serious side effects will feed into the anti-vaccine misinformation that spread rampantly during the pandemic. Consider how you would report on a story like this. Create a list of who you would interview, including affected people and experts in the field, and what questions you would ask each, as well as what data or other published information you would look for. Then, write a paragraph on how you would approach this story to make sure it was fair to all involved, balancing not spreading misinformation with not minimizing the experiences of those who have experienced side effects.

3. PIPE PRIORITY

Part of President Biden’s re-election efforts include a visit to North Carolina, where he announced a $3 billion program to upgrade the country’s water systems and get rid of toxic lead pipes. It’s part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill his administration passed in 2021. Lead pipes are particularly dangerous for children, as lead exposure can affect development, and at least nine million homes, schools, day care centers, and businesses are estimated to still get water through lead pipes. Many of those are in communities of marginalized people. Research the communities most affected by lead pipes and draw conclusions about why there’s a correlation between marginalized communities and those who still have lead pipes. Then, write an article that summarizes your thoughts, using research to back up your opinion.

4. CHASING DATA

A technology reporter recently discovered that she’s among the many drivers who have been spied on by their car manufacturers without consent. Many automakers have begun selling driver data to insurance companies, which can lead them to charge some drivers more. In the case of General Motors, drivers whose data was being collected and sold weren’t informed about the data collection. While a spokesperson for GM had said that only drivers who turned on OnStar, a connection service, and enrolled in Smart Driver, their program that offers feedback and digital badges for good driving, would have their data collected. However, a “small population” of customers were enrolled without their knowledge, which meant they couldn’t get insights into their own driving, but the information was collected and sent to insurance companies. In response, GM has announced that they will discontinue Smart Driver and unenroll all customers, as well as no longer share data with insurance companies that brought millions in annual revenue. Do you think GM’s response is enough to restore trust in the company, especially for those drivers whose data was collected without their consent? Write an opinion article that expresses your view on GM’s response.

5. BRIBERY IN CONGRESS

Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas, and his wife have been indicted on charges of conspiracy and bribery for their relationship with the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. The charges allege that Cuellar and his wife accepted nearly $600,000 in bribes from an energy company controlled by the Azerbaijan government and a bank in Mexico between 2014 and 2021. In exchange, Cuellar allegedly agreed to advance the interests of Azerbaijan and the bank in the United States, like pushing legislation that was favorable to the country. The congressman and his wife have denied any wrongdoing and said they are innocent of the allegations. Write an article comparing the events of this story with the similar bribery charges brought against Senator Robert Menendez and his wife for their relationship with the government of Egypt.