For Grades 9-12 , week of June 24, 2024


The Surgeon General of the United States, reflecting on lessons from medical school, recently emphasized the urgent need to address the mental health crisis among young people caused by social media. Studies show spending more than three hours daily on social platforms doubles the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms for teens. He proposed adding a surgeon general’s warning label to social media, similar to tobacco warnings on cigarette packaging, to highlight these risks and prompt safer use. Recommendations include legislation to protect children online, creating phone-free zones, and delaying social media access until after middle school. The call to action stresses the need for societal, parental, and governmental collaboration to safeguard children from social media’s harmful effects. Do you think a surgeon general’s warning on social media sites would be effective in curbing the harm done to young people by excessive social media use? Write an opinion article that shares your perspective on whether or not this would be a helpful step, using research to back up your claims.


Former President Donald Trump, in a recent interview, proposed giving automatic green cards to foreign students graduating from U.S. colleges, a departure from his usual tough stance on immigration. He discussed this plan in a podcast with venture capitalists, emphasizing that any college graduate, including from junior colleges, should receive a green card alongside their diploma. This proposal contrasts sharply with Trump's typical rhetoric, where he often criticizes illegal immigrants for safety risks and job competition. Despite this, during his presidency, Trump also aimed to restrict legal immigration through policies like the "Buy American and Hire American" executive order. He criticized programs like H1-B visas for allegedly undercutting American workers, despite having used H1-B workers in his business ventures previously, but highlighted the potential contributions of skilled foreign graduates to U.S. businesses. Write a summary of this story, using research to contrast this suggestion with the former president’s previous policies and stances on immigration in the U.S.


The Supreme Court recently upheld a law that stops people under restraining orders for domestic violence from having guns. They ruled 8-1 to support the law from 1994, saying it makes sense to only apply after a judge decides someone is a real threat. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision while Justice Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenting opinion. President Biden praised the ruling, saying it protects abuse survivors. The case came from a Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, who had guns while under a restraining order. This ruling could affect other gun laws too. Read more about Justice Thomas’ dissent opinion and what he believed the Supreme Court should’ve done differently. Then, write an article that summarizes the case that brought this issue to the Court and the different opinions of the justices about it.


In Gaza, most people can only leave through Egypt, which is hard and costly. They pay thousands of dollars to a company linked to Egypt's government for approval to cross the border. About 100,000 people have left Gaza recently, mainly using a company called Hala. Hala charges up to $5,000 for adults to leave, causing financial strain on the already desperate people of Gaza. Critics say it offers a VIP service, but some users report basic treatment. There are allegations of corruption involving Hala and Egyptian officials, though they deny it. Read more online or in your newspaper about Hala and the costly services they offer to those desperate to flee the war-torn Gaza region. Then, write an article that summarizes this story and the ethical issues at hand.


A recent exposé from the New York Times shares how Americans pay too much for prescription drugs. People often blame drug companies, insurers, and the government but another group called pharmacy benefit managers (P.B.M.s) also play a significant role. P.B.M.s oversee drug prescriptions for millions of Americans. Their job is to lower drug costs, but they often do the opposite by steering patients to more expensive drugs, marking up prices, and charging hidden fees. These practices lead to inflated drug prices, affecting everyone, even those who don't take prescription drugs. Many people only discover P.B.M.s when they face problems getting their medications due to complex approval processes. Despite claims of saving money, investigations show that P.B.M.s prioritize their financial interests over patients and employers. P.B.M.s negotiate drug prices with manufacturers and manage how drugs are sold, often favoring more expensive options. They also own pharmacies, which they push patients to use, limiting choices and potentially inflating costs. Despite criticism and legal challenges for overcharging, P.B.M.s continue to dominate the prescription drug market, affecting millions of Americans' healthcare costs. If you were going to write a story about this issue, write an outline of the angle you would take, what sources you would use, and what questions you would ask interview subjects to report on this.