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For Grades 9-12 , week of June 05, 2023

1. Application Edits

Colleges who support applications submitted through Common App will soon be able to hide perspective students’ race and ethnicity information. The move is in line with the expected overturning of a decades-old precedent that was intended to support students who were otherwise underrepresented. However, following arguments from cases involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, the Supreme Court is now likely to decide that race and ethnicity should not be considered when making admissions decisions. Research several colleges in different states and regions of the US, looking for information about the diversity of their student body. Write an article summarizing your findings and drawing conclusions about how the change in precedent could affect students going forward.

2. Debt Deal

Much of last week’s news was dominated by conversations about the debt ceiling and the deal brokered between Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on the debt limit and spending cap in the US. The final deal had wins for both sides: For Republicans, there’s a cap on spending in areas like transportation and education for the next two years, expanded work requirements for those on food stamps, and the resumption of student loan payments. For Democrats, they maintained climate and clean energy initiatives and maintained no work requirements for those using Medicaid. This deal will postpone further debt limit issues until 2025. Using the newspaper or online, read a few of the articles about the debt ceiling negotiations. Then, write a summary of how the deal came about and who the key players were in bringing it to fruition.

3. Pulling Away from Pride

June 1 marked the start of Pride Month in the US, but the LGBTQ+ community is currently facing significant challenges in the country. The American Civil Liberties Union reported nearly 500 bills restricting LGBTQ+ rights, addressing everything from gender-affirming care and bathroom access to drag shows. Additionally, retailers who sell pride-related merchandise or products have seen an increase in backlash and harassment from conservative customers. Target even pulled part of its pride collection from stores after numerous incidents of displays being knocked over and employees being threatened. Read about the history of the pride movement in the US, including the Stonewall rebellion of 1969, and the recent issues faced by retailers like Target surrounding pride merchandise. Write a letter as if you were in charge of Target, addressing the events and how you would react to them, including what, if anything, you would change in your stores or online.

4. Award Controversy

For nearly thirty years, the James Beard Foundation awards have been considered the most prestigious in the food world, with categories for restaurants, chefs, food journalism, books, and more. When the rise of the #MeToo movement created a reckoning with the patterns of abuse in restaurant kitchens, the foundation tried to adjust its process to make sure chefs accused of abusive behavior weren’t recognized in the awards. However, it’s come under fire this season for how it’s treated potential nominees, hiring private investigators to lead interrogations, and prompting some chefs to share on social media that they’re boycotting the awards. The awards were previously cancelled by the foundation in 2020 and 2021, leading up to a restructuring that focused more on equity and inclusion. Read more about the criticism the James Beard Foundation faced in 2020 and 2021, then write an editorial piece taking a stance on the matter. Include information from your research to back up your opinion and include how you think the foundation should move forward with the award process.

5. Apartment Tragedy

A 116-year-old apartment building in Iowa collapsed last week, four days after an engineering firm warned that the entire face of the building was at risk of falling away. Three people are still unaccounted for after city officials neglected to order residents to evacuate; in a statement, they said they relied on the firm’s assurances that the building was still safe when deciding not to relocate tenants. However, documents released by the city show there were inspections and tenant complaints from 2020 to 2023 about cracks in walls and water coming from ceilings. There were also several instances where city code inspectors couldn’t access the building to complete inspections. Research the incident in the newspaper or online. Then, outline what questions you would ask the property manager, city officials, the city’s mayor, and former residents of the apartment building if you were planning to write an article about the building collapse.