For Grades 9-12 THE WEEK OF Mar. 09, 2020

1. Election 2020

The 2020 presidential election moves on this week, with a new landscape for Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump. Democrats will vote in six primaries, after the stunning results of Super Tuesday last week. Former Vice President Joe Biden surprised all the experts — and his own staff — by winning 10 of the 14 primaries up for grabs on Super Tuesday and will seek to build on that momentum with voting in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington State this week. His chief opponent, Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, will seek to rebound from a disappointing Super Tuesday in which he won just in just four states (though one was the hugely important California). Biden got a boost after Super Tuesday voting when former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped out. Biden and Bloomberg had been competing for the same “moderate” voters. Progressive U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren also dropped out, which could lead to more support for Sanders. The race for the Democratic presidential nomination now will be a head-to-head matchup between Biden and Sanders. They have very different views on issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about their positions on issues important to you. Create a chart or graphic organizer comparing those views in a visual way.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

2. End to the Longest War?

America’s longest war may at last be coming to an end. The United States has signed a peace agreement with the radical Taliban group that controls the Asian nation of Afghanistan and has agreed to fully withdraw American troops after an 18-year presence. The Taliban has pledged to reduce violence in the Islamic state and promised that Afghan territory will not be used by terrorists seeking to attack the United States or its allies. Terrorism played a key role in the U.S. decision to go to war in Afghanistan in the first place. The war was launched in October 2001 in an effort to eliminate the al-Qaeda terrorist group that had attacked the U.S. in the World Trade Center bombings in New York City. Al-Qaeda operations were based in Afghanistan, and the group’s leader Osama bin Laden was believed to be living there. In the 18 years of the war, more than 2,400 American soldiers have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded. The peace agreement that has just been signed will hold only if the Taliban adheres to its commitments regarding violence and terrorism. American soldiers in Afghanistan continue to face risks and violence every day. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the missions and actions of U.S. forces there. Use what you read to write a political column assessing the goals of the U.S. military in Afghanistan and the most significant achievements of U.S. forces.

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. Fashion from Plastic

Plastic pollution is a problem all over the world, so it was big news when a fashion and shoe company from the state of California began making shoes from recycled plastic bottles. Now the Rothy’s brand is expanding its “green” efforts to make handbags from plastic waste reclaimed from the world’s oceans. Rothy’s products are made with a special process that creates yarn from recycled plastic. The yarn can then be woven into shoes, handbags or other fashion accessories. “This expansion into handbags is a natural progression of our strategy to make sustainable products with environmentally-responsible manufacturing,” Rothy’s founder Roth Martin told CNN News. “… We’ve recycled more than 50 million plastic water bottles for our shoes to date. … We want to lead by example.” Many consumers want companies to “take care of the Earth” as well as provide good products. As a result, many companies now promote how they are “Earth friendly.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about companies doing this. Use what you find to prepare an oral report or power point showing different approaches taken by companies, and which you think are the most effective. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your presentation.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Help for the Homeless

Many homeless people are forced to live in their cars when they lose their home or apartment. It’s usually not a good solution, because police and businesses ask them to move along from places they choose to park — often in the middle of the night. In the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, the owners of a car dealership have made an unusual gesture to help homeless people who find themselves in this situation. James and Haydee Charles have opened up the safe and well-lit parking lot of their used car dealership to homeless people sleeping at night in their cars. The homeless can park from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. and come back nightly for up to 90 days. Since the Charles couple made the offer in January, more than two dozen homeless families, single men and single women have parked in the lot, the Washington Post newspaper reported. A local business donated a portable bathroom for the homeless to use for further convenience. James and Haydee Charles have special sympathy for people who find themselves homeless. Four years ago, they were evicted from a rental home and had to live three months in motels with their six children and a dog. How to help the homeless is a problem facing cities all across America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different approaches communities are taking. Use what you read to write an editorial highlighting three or four approaches and why you think they are effective.

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.

5. More Virus Fallout

The spread of the coronavirus has forced nations all over the world to cut back activities, take extra health precautions and restrict the movements of people within and between communities. Now concern over the virus has prompted the United Nations to cut back the size of a gathering that was expected to bring up to 12,000 people to New York City this week to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a landmark agreement to achieve equality for women. Instead of representatives coming from 193 nations around the world, this week’s meeting will be restricted to representatives already serving in New York. The major commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the agreement will now be held at a later date to be determined, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women announced. Concern about the coronavirus has led to many new restrictions on the activities of individuals, businesses and other organizations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the restrictions being imposed. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing which you think are the most important, and why.

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.