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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 29, 2024

1. ARIZONA INDICTMENTS

Eighteen people were indicted for election interference by a grand jury in Arizona. Among them are former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as well as other high-profile Republicans. The charges of conspiracy, fraud, and forgery, stem from a document eleven Republicans submitted to Congress falsely declaring that Trump had won the 2020 election vote in Arizona. Arizona is now the fourth state to charge allies of the former president for taking action to influence the election results based on false or unproven claims. Fake electors in Nevada, Michigan, and Georgia have been charged with criminal cases and a civil lawsuit against false electors was settled in Wisconsin. For his role in the scheme, former President Trump was indicted in federal court in August. Research what it means to be a fake elector and the role of the electoral college in elections. Then, write a summary of what you learned and how it applies to these cases from the 2020 election.

2. COMBATTING CONGESTION

New York City is launching a new program to help combat some of the country’s worst traffic. The city will begin charging congestion-pricing tolls on June 30; starting then, it will cost passenger cars $15 a day to enter Manhattan’s “congestion zone” and trucks will pay based on size. Taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts will also have fare increases that reflect the new charges. The program is anticipated to bring in at least $1 billion a year for capital projects in the city, including modernizing the public transportation networks, and lower the number of vehicles in the area by 17 percent. A survey showed that 63 percent of New Yorkers opposed the bill, while a study of public comments showed that around 60 percent of commenters support it. Consider the pros and cons of a program like this in a highly populated and popular area like Manhattan. Write a pro-con list of the reasons for and against this bill from the perspectives of different types of drivers, residents, business owners, and the city government.

3. A NEW BUSINESS BAN

Employees are often made to sign noncompete agreements in order to start work at a new company, which can make it difficult for them to switch jobs within the same industry later on. However, the Federal Trade Commission created new nationwide ban on new noncompete agreements for employees below senior executives and determined that existing non-competes are not enforceable. The agency found that noncompetes are harmful to workers because it keeps them from taking other jobs or starting their own businesses. The US Chamber of Commerce, a trade group that advocates for US businesses and corporations, said it would sue to block the new rule, saying it would be harmful to businesses. Write a summary of this new ban and how it could affect both employers and employees in the United States.

4. RECORD LOW BIRTH RATE

The rate of babies being born in the United States reached a new low record in 2023. There was an increase in the US’s birth rate during the Covid-19 pandemic, but before that, there were around 2 percent fewer babies with each passing year. Now, that trend is back, with the number of babies dropping 2 percent between 2022 and 2023. At the current rate, the US population may shrink without an influx of people from other sources, like immigration. Currently, the total fertility rate of the US, or the average number of births women will have over their lifetimes if rates stay the same, has been below what is needed to replace the deaths of previous generations since 1971. Write a summary of this story and what effect a lower birth rate could have on the United States, both positively and negatively.

5. CLEAR FACES CHALLENGES

California lawmakers are targeting a way for people to cut the line at airport security in the state. A bipartisan pair of lawmakers—and frequent fliers—proposed the first-of-its-kind bill that would keep people from using services like CLEAR that allow people to pay to jump to the front of the line. For $189 a year, CLEAR customers have their identity verified at a kiosk in the airport, then are escorted to the front of the security line, ahead of passengers who have TSA Precheck, the Transportation Security Administration’s pre-screening service. The bill wouldn’t get rid of CLEAR but would require it to operate its own security lane, rather than bringing customers to the front of the regular lines. The company would need federal approval to fund and operate its own security lane since that falls under the purview of the TSA. Do you think it’s appropriate for people to be able to skip the line if they’re willing to pay for it? Why or why not? Write an opinion article on whether you think that practice should be allowed.