1. Census Changes
Every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau does a count of America’s population to determine which states are growing most, which are growing slowly and how many seats in the U.S. House of Representatives each should have. The first numbers are out from the 2020 U.S. Census, and researchers have found that between 2010 and 2020 the U.S. population grew overall at the second slowest rate since the first census was taken in 1790. As in the past, the Census reveals that states in the South and West are gaining most in population while growth in the Northeast and Midwest is slow or non-existent. As a result, six states gained congressional seats in the U.S. House: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas, which gained two. Seven states lost a seat: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The number of House seats also will affect how many votes each state gets in the Electoral College for presidential elections. Utah had the greatest population growth at 18.4 percent over the last 10 years, followed by Idaho (17.3) and Texas (15.9). Just three states lost population in the last 10 years, led by West Virginia at 3.2 percent. The 2020 Census will have significant impact on the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what effects it will have. Use what you read to write a political column detailing the impact the 2020 Census will have on politics and national government.
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.
2. Looser Mask Rules
From the start of the coronavirus epidemic, federal health officials have stressed that wearing masks is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus. Now, with nearly 100-million people fully vaccinated against the disease, restrictions are being lifted across the nation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that people who have been fully vaccinated with one or two shots can go without masks outdoors for such activities as jogging, biking or dining with friends at outdoor restaurants. They still are being urged to wear masks at crowded events indoors or outdoors to protect against highly infectious “variant” virus strains. The announcement was designed to act as an incentive for more people to get their vaccination shots so they can resume normal activities. At least 140-million people have received at least one dose of protective vaccine, but that represents less than 50 percent of the total population. Health agencies inside and outside government are producing public service ads for TV and the Internet to encourage people to get vaccinated or wear masks. Use the newspaper or Internet to read about or view some of these ads. Then brainstorm ideas for ads featuring celebrities, sports figures or other prominent people who could be spokespersons. Write the text of vaccination or mask ads for three of these people. Share and discuss with friends or classmates.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
3. California Recall
For just the second time in its history, the state of California will vote to decide whether to remove its governor before his term in office is up. More than 1.6-million voters signed a petition seeking to “recall” Governor Gavin Newsom from office in a special election this fall. The recall effort was led by state Republicans, who have opposed the policies of the Democrat Newsom since he was elected in 2018. The governor has drawn criticism from Republicans and others for his handling of the coronavirus, especially his shutdown orders for businesses and stay-at-home restrictions for individuals. He also has been criticized for the way he has handled immigration issues. The only other recall vote in California history came in 2003, when Democratic Governor Gray Davis was removed and replaced by action-movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran as a Republican. Schwarzenegger was re-elected and served more than seven years in office. A recall election is a dramatic and disruptive way to deal with political differences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the recall vote in California. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your opinion on whether recall votes in the middle of an official’s term are a good or bad thing. Support your opinion with facts from your reading.
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.
4. A West Virginia Welcome
According to newly released figures from the 2020 Census, the state of West Virginia led the nation over the last 10 years in people leaving to live elsewhere. Now West Virginia is taking steps to get people to move into the state to work. The state has just announced a program that will pay remote workers $12,000 to move to the Mountain State and work from home for companies based elsewhere. The program called Ascend WV also will give remote workers a year’s worth of free outdoor recreation for activities like whitewater rafting and two years of free outdoor gear rentals. When announcing the program, Governor Jim Justice said it “will allow adventurers to enjoy world-class recreation, uncrowded spaces and a low cost of living while staying fully connected to their jobs,” CNN News reported. Many states are looking for ways to boost their economies after coronavirus shutdowns. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the things states are trying. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to the best ideas.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. New Cuban Leader
For the first time in more than 60 years, the Caribbean nation of Cuba is being led by a leader not named Castro. Fidel Castro and then his brother Raul led Cuba from the time the 1959 Cuban Revolution established a communist government just 90 miles south of the U.S. state of Florida. With Raul Castro stepping down at age 89 as head of state and leader of the Communist Party, Cuba’s future now is in the hands of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who also has been named First Secretary of the Communist Party. That is Cuba’s most powerful position, and Raul Castro held the position until his retirement last month. The establishment of a communist government in Cuba caused great tensions between the Caribbean nation and the United States, especially during the “Cold War” when democracies tried to isolate and diminish the influence of communist governments around the world. The U.S. imposed an embargo against Cuba in 1960 blocking American businesses from conducting trade with Cuban interests. While former President Barack Obama sought to open up relations with Cuba, the embargo remains the longest running in modern history. New leadership of Cuba could mean a new relationship with the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about President Biden’s views on U.S. relationships with Cuba. Use what you read to write a letter to the President, outlining how you think he should approach Cuba, and why.
Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.