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For Grades K-4 , week of June 19, 2023

1. WASTE NOT

Food waste is one of the biggest environmental problems we face. When leftover food goes to a landfill, it breaks down and releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Rotting food can also pollute water and soil, and the energy and resources that created and transported the food are wasted too. To solve this problem, South Korea created a system where it is illegal to send food waste to landfills. Instead, they process it into useful products: Water is baked out and purified to go back into streams, solid food waste is dehydrated into a feed supplement for chickens and ducks, available for free to any farm, or used to create fertilizer. They also create biogas that is used to heat local homes. Write a plan for how the United States could use some of the techniques from South Korea to solve our own food waste problems. What are the challenges and benefits?

2. A WIN FOR NATIVE CHILDREN

The Supreme Court recently decided in favor of maintaining the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that requires states to notify Native American tribes when a child who’s a member of the tribe or eligible for tribal membership is involved in an adoption case in the foster care system. Then, tribes are able to help place them with families within the tribe or other Native American families. The law was created to help correct historic wrongs created by the United States government: Prior to the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 to 35 percent of Native American children were placed with adoptive families or sent to group institutions, where they were cut off from their Native culture. Using the newspaper or online, read more about the history of Native Americans in the United States in the twentieth century. Then, write a letter to a friend explaining what you learned.

3. REVERSE BAN

Illinois became the first state to enact a unique law after attempts to ban certain books from schools and public libraries has reached a record high across the United States. The new law will protect books of all perspectives—if a public library bans or restricts a book because of “partisan” disapproval, the library will no longer be able to receive state funding. Write a letter to your local or school librarian explaining why you think it is or isn’t important to read books that are written from different perspectives and explore ideas different from your own and sharing what kind of books you’ve learned new things from.

4. A FIRST FOR THE U.S.

Civil rights attorney Nusrat Choudhury became the first Bangladeshi American and first Muslim female federal judge in the United States after being confirmed by the Senate with a narrow margin of 50-49 votes. Choudhury previously served as the legal director for the Illinois branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that takes on civil liberties cases in the US for key issues like marriage equality, abortion rights, and voting rights. Write a short article that explains the facts of this story and why it is significant for the US.

5. A POSER CAUGHT

A 28-year-old woman was arrested for posing as a 17-year-old in order to enroll in a Louisiana high school to learn English. Her mother was also arrested, both on counts of inuring public records. The mother used a fake passport and birth certificate to enroll her daughter in the school, which the young woman attended for most of the 2022-2023 school year. A tip to the school district about the student’s age launched an investigation that ultimately led to both women’s arrests. Write down what other ways this young woman could’ve used to learn English and share your ideas with your classmates.

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