For Grades 9-12 , week of June 27, 2022

1. Gas Price Proposal

With the price of gas near record levels, drivers across America are looking for leaders to do something. Last week President Biden responded by asking Congress to suspend the federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel to “provide families some immediate relief” and give them “a little bit of breathing room” until prices come down. The federal gas tax amounts to about 18 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24 cents per gallon of diesel, and the President asked Congress to suspend those fees through the end of September. He also urged individual states to suspend their separate gas taxes, which amount to about 38 cents per gallon on average, and asked oil companies to increase production. The President’s energy team estimates that the suspension of the federal tax, a halt on state gas taxes and an increase in refining capacity by oil companies would lower gas prices by at least $1 a gallon, the New York Times reported. Last week the average U.S. price for gasoline was $4.95 per gallon, according to the AAA travel group. It is not certain that the President’s proposal has the support to pass both the U.S. House and Senate. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the idea “a silly proposal,” and even some Democrats feel it would not be effective. How to deal with high gas prices continues to spark debate across America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what state and national leaders are saying. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining what you think would be the best approach. Discuss how high gas prices are affecting your family.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

2. Air Pollution Danger

Air pollution is a problem that affects people all over the world. Now a new report from a leading scientific institute indicates just how dangerous it is. The report from scientists at the University of Chicago has found that breathing polluted air is more dangerous than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. The yearly Air Quality Life report from the Energy Policy Institute at the university has found that breathing polluted air can reduce life expectancy by 2.2 years, the Washington Post newspaper reports. By comparison, smoking cigarettes cuts life expectancy by about 1.9 years, while drinking alcohol reduces it by eight months, the report says. The Air Quality report assessed the risks of air pollution caused by contaminants such as smoke, fumes, dust and pollen. Such pollutants can lead to strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Many communities are taking steps to reduce air pollution and other forms of pollution because they increase risks for health problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different efforts. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing the health risks posed by different forms of pollution.

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. Honoring Women Pioneers

Women have made great inroads in politics in recent elections, but for more than 230 years, the U.S. Congress has largely been dominated by men. A major reason was that American women didn’t have the right to vote for the first 130 years the U.S. House and Senate existed and couldn’t have served even if they wanted to. Even after women could vote and run for office, men continued to dominate in Congress. Today, 24 women serve in the Senate (24 percent) and 123 in the House (28.3 percent). To recognize the gains women have made in politics, the Senate has just made the historic move to name two rooms for women who were political pioneers. Honored with the first rooms named for women were Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from the state of Maryland who retired in 2016 as the longest-serving female senator, and the late Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican from Maine who was the first woman to win election to the both the House and the Senate. Female Senate leaders hope the naming of the rooms on the first floor of the U.S. Capitol Building will inspire women and girls who visit. “There are little girls walking around these places all the time,” said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who led the naming effort. “If all they see are guys, this isn’t their home.” As the nation gears up for the 2022 elections, women continue to make gains in politics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about female candidates. Use what you read to write a political column examining which races offer the best prospects for women seeking state or congressional offices.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. $19-Million Lunch

Warren Buffett is one of the most successful businessmen in the world, with a net worth of nearly $100-billion from his Berkshire Hathaway empire, according to Forbes magazine. Business leaders and groups pay thousands of dollars to hear him speak, but one person has outdone all the others. In a charity auction this spring, an anonymous bidder paid a record $19-million for a “power lunch” with the 91-year-old Buffett, who is widely considered one of the most astute investors in the world. For the multi-million-dollar price, the unnamed bidder will get a private lunch with Buffett for up to seven guests at the famed Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse in New York City. The auction for the Buffett lunch was a collaboration between eBay and the Glide Foundation, a non-profit group in San Francisco, California that works to combat poverty, hunger and homelessness. In 21 years the auction has raised $53-million for Glide, including this year’s $19-million for the Buffett lunch. If you could choose anyone in the world to have lunch with, who would it be? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about someone you would like to have lunch with. Use what you read to write a letter to the person telling him/her why you would like to have the lunch and what you would hope to learn. Discuss choices with family and friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Team Effort

Torrential rains have caused flooding, mudslides and widespread damage in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding communities in the western United States. In one hard-hit community, residents got unexpected help cleaning up — from a football team. The city of Red Lodge, which is located northeast of Yellowstone got help from the Montana State University football team after experiencing the worst flood in the community’s history. About half of the Bobcats team made the two-and-a-half-hour drive from their Bozeman city campus to Red Lodge, where they cleaned up dozens of homes that were damaged by the flood. “Montana has given me so much [that] I think it’s just right of us to give back and help out in a community that’s in desperate need,” Bobcat senior defensive back Ty Okada told SWX-TV News. “It was nice to be able to come out here as a team and just help this community out.” When disasters strike, people often volunteer to help victims clean up, rebuild and recover. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about volunteers helping out in this way. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor suggesting ways your community could provide volunteer help for a current or future disaster.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.