, week of
Jan. 04, 2021
1. Congress Counts
On Wednesday, January 6, the U.S. Congress will take what should be the final action of the 2020 race for president. Meeting in joint session, the U.S. House and Senate will open and count the electoral votes cast by each state and certified by officials in the states. In ordinary circumstances this would be a routine action confirming that Democrat Joe Biden won 306 electoral votes to 232 for President Trump. But this is not an ordinary year. Trump supporters in the House and Senate are planning to challenge the votes in key states and have Congress replace Biden electors with Trump electors on the ground there was fraud in the balloting. Numerous court cases and recounts have found no evidence of fraud that could change the election results. And even if the House and Senate agree to take up challenges they would fail because Democrats control the House. Trump supporters have vowed to continue to file lawsuits seeking to overturn the results until Inauguration Day on January 20. The counting of votes from the Electoral College offered a new chapter in the ongoing refusal of President Trump and his supporters to acknowledge he lost the presidential race. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the dispute over electoral votes and the election. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing what you think will be the long-term significance of actions taken this week.
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.
2. Big Senate Races
This is an important week for the U.S. Congress. The count of electoral votes will come one day after voters in the state of Georgia will cast ballots in two races for the U.S. Senate. How they vote on January 5 will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the upper chamber of the legislative branch of the federal government. Republicans currently hold a two-seat advantage in the Senate following the November 3 election results. If the Democrats win both Georgia Senate seats, it would create a tie between the Democrats and Republicans in the number of seats each party holds. Under Senate rules, ties are broken by a vote of the vice president, who serves as president of the Senate. Since Democrat Kamala Harris will be vice president for the next session of Congress, her vote would give control of the Senate to the Democrats. In this week’s voting, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is being challenged by the Reverend Raphael Warnock, and Republican Senator David Perdue is facing Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what the candidates are saying about the Senate races in Georgia. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor discussing what was most surprising about the results or the candidates’ statements — and what the nation can learn from them.
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.
3. Negro League Upgrade
At a time when Major League Baseball banned Black players from playing, the Negro Leagues were home to some of baseball’s greatest stars ever. A total of 40 players, managers and executives who spent all or part of their careers in the Negro Leagues have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and now they are getting even greater recognition. Major League Baseball has announced it is “elevating” Negro Leagues teams and players to Major League status for the years 1920 to 1948, and including Black players’ achievements from those years in the official Major League record book. That will bring significant changes to some record categories, such as career batting average. Josh Gibson’s career batting average of .365 in the Negro Leagues will now rank second only to Ty Cobb’s .366, and three other Black stars now will join the Top 10 in Major League history. In addition, Gibson’s career slugging percentage of .690 would edge out the legendary Babe Ruth’s .6897 as the highest ever in the Major Leagues. The first Negro League that had sustained success was founded 100 years ago in 1920. Raising Negro League teams and players to Major League status is an effort to recognize and correct injustice, discrimination and “systemic racism” against African Americans in the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other efforts to do this by communities, colleges, institutions and businesses. Use what you read to write an editorial analyzing one such effort and how it could serve as a model for other communities or institutions.
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.
4. Record-Setting ‘Voice’
For 19 years, “The Voice” has been one of the most popular TV shows in the world and a showcase for top singing talent. Winners are chosen by the viewing audience, and this year they made a historic choice. The winner was 15-year-old Carter Rubin, who is the youngest male winner ever and just a few weeks shy of the youngest overall. With a powerful voice and a range that extends high into the high notes, Rubin sang a variety of songs during the competition — from Mariah Carey’s “Hero,” to Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb,” to “Rainbow Connection” from “The Muppet Movie.” For winning, Rubin received a cash prize of $100,000 and a recording contract. Teens often make news by achieving success in surprising ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teen having success in this way. Pretend you are a TV reporter planning a profile of this teen. Write out five questions you would like to ask him/her and how you would show the teen’s achievements on camera.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusion.
5. Pay It Forward
When people help others after getting help themselves, it’s said they are “paying it forward” by sharing their good fortune. In the city of Brainerd, Minnesota, a local Dairy Queen experienced an amazing example of “pay it forward” good will that stretched over two and a half days. A chain of more than 900 customers using the drive-through lane paid for the meals of the car behind them! It started with an elderly man who wanted to pay for the car behind him in the spirit of the holidays. It continued, car after car, and when Dairy Queen employees posted about it on Facebook customers from all over town lined up to take part. One of them was Heidi Bruse, who told the Washington Post newspaper that she came to the Dairy Queen to do something kind at a time “the state of the world we live in … is not always kind — there’s a lot of anger, anxiety and selfishness going on.” Paying it forward can take many forms. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has achieved success or good fortune. Use what you read to write a letter to the person suggesting ways he/she could pay their success forward to help others.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.