For Grades 9-12 THE WEEK OF Mar. 29, 2021

1. Border Crisis

Since taking office, President Biden has faced a growing crisis along the U.S. border with Mexico. Thousands of immigrants from Mexico and Central America have been seeking to cross the border, despite declarations from U.S. officials that the border “is closed.” Many of those seeking asylum in the United States are children traveling without their parents or families. The Washington Post has reported that there are now more than 15,000 unaccompanied migrant children in the care of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Customs and Border Protection agency. More are arriving every day, and Biden has deployed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help care for them. The problem of unaccompanied migrant children seeking to enter the United States has caused great debate in Washington and around the country. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories or commentaries about the debate. Use what you read to write a commentary of your own, offering your views on how the U.S. should deal with the problem. Support your views with facts from your reading.

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. Trump Social Media

Former President Trump has been out of the news since leaving office. Largely, that has been because social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube banned or suspended him for his role encouraging supporters to storm the Capitol building in Washington on January 6. Soon that may be changing. The former President is making plans to start his own social media network to give him a platform to spread his ideas and commentary on the Internet. The network, which has yet to be named, would be designed to give him the kind of following that led to his election as President. The former President had nearly 90 million followers on Twitter at the time his account was shut down and his now-inactive Facebook page has 32 million “likes” and 35 million followers. Internet experts say it is unlikely an independent network could attract a following of that size, though Trump supporters say a Trump network would be “the hottest ticket in social media.” A Trump social media network would disrupt the way the Internet operates in new and unpredictable ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about former President Trump’s plan to start his own network. Use what you read to write a business column analyzing what obstacles exist for starting an independent network and how difficult they would be to overcome.

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. Trailblazing Sheriff

The western state of Wyoming is one of the whitest in America, with a population that includes just 12 percent people of color. Among the whitest institutions of the state are county sheriff’s offices, which provide law enforcement and other services for largely rural areas. Aaron Appelhans is changing that history and tradition. He has been appointed the first Black sheriff in Wyoming’s 131-year history as a state. Appelhans oversees sheriff’s operations in Albany County, an area in the southeastern part of the state that includes ranches, open spaces, the University of Wyoming and the city of Laramie. He was appointed to fill out the term of his predecessor, who stepped down amid controversy, the New York Times reported. Appelhans does not have the typical background of a county sheriff. He worked as a college-admissions officer for the University of Wyoming before serving 10 years with the university’s police department. With a different perspective, Appelhans hopes to bring cultural change to the sheriff’s department, in which he is the only Black officer. “I come in with some different ideas of how to go about doing things,” he says. One of the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement is to promote equal opportunity for African Americans and break down barriers to success. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an African American who is breaking barriers. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing how this groundbreaking achievement will benefit people of color, the community and the nation as a whole.

Common Core State 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.

4.‘Take a Chance on Me’

Autism is a condition that makes it hard for people to connect or engage with others. Yet people with autism can be highly intelligent and productive in the right situation. A young man from Leesburg, Virginia called attention to that recently when he wrote a public letter seeking a job and asking potential employers to “take a chance on me.” Ryan Lowry, who is 20, posted his letter to the LinkedIn website and in just three weeks attracted more than 7 million views and messages, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Many praised him for his honest and heartfelt description of his situation and what he could offer an employer in the animation or information technology fields he hopes to join. “Dear Future Employer,” his letter declares. “I have autism. I also have a unique sense of humor, am gifted at math, really good with technology, and a really quick learner. … I don’t learn like typical people do [but] I promise that if you hire and teach me, you’ll be glad you did.” As a result of his letter Lowry has gotten thousands of letters of support, as well as contacts from companies that might have positions for him. When seeking a job, writing a good “cover letter” is very important because it introduces you to a prospective employer. In the newspaper or online, find an ad or story involving a job you would like to have. Use what you read to write a cover letter telling why you would be a good candidate for the job. Share your letter with friends or classmates and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5.‘Spring Break’ Problems

As communities relax coronavirus rules, health officials fear that they may encourage “super-spreader events” that allow the disease to rebound. A prime example is playing out in Miami Beach, Florida, where thousands of college students and young adults have descended to party on the community’s beaches and streets for “spring break.” The partiers, most of whom have not worn masks or practiced social distancing, got so out of control earlier this month that the city imposed a curfew to keep them off the streets after 8 p.m. The curfew will continue Thursday to Sunday until April 11. In efforts to reopen, communities are trying to balance health safety with the public’s interest in “getting back to normal.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about this “balancing act” communities are experiencing. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor offering guidelines for reopening in a safe way.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.