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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 26, 2016

1. Debate Analysis

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off Monday, September 26 in the first debate of the general election for president. Debates give voters a chance to assess the positions and character of presidential candidates, but also to see how they respond under pressure and conduct themselves. Debates also give analysts and political columnists an opportunity to assess the strength of each candidate. Pretend you are a political analyst. Watch the debate or read stories after it about what each candidate said and how each conducted him/herself. Use what you read or see to write an analysis of which candidate performed better in the debate, and how that helped his or her campaign going forward to the November 8 election. Discuss views as a class.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Air Force Needs Pilots

The U.S. Air Force is short of fighter pilots, and is struggling to fill 700 fighter positions by the end of the year. The fighter pilot shortage comes at a time when three air wars in the Middle East are involving U.S. pilots — the battle against Islamic State militants in Iraq, as well as conflicts in Syria and Libya. The pilot shortage could grow to 1,000 in a few years, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James warns. The pilot shortage has been caused in part by the fact that commercial airlines offer higher salaries for pilots. Secretary James said the Air Force is working on a plan for an increased retention bonus to get pilots to stay longer. Currently, pilots are offered a $25,000 a year bonus to stay up to nine years. In addition, land-based pilots of drone aircraft will be eligible for a $35,000-a-year retention bonus, on top of the $25,000 bonus already authorized, to encourage them to stay in the service. Pilots in the U.S. military perform a variety of important tasks. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about military pilots and what they do. Use what you read, to create a recruitment ad for fighter pilots or another kind of military pilot. Give your ad an eye-catching headline to attract the kind of candidate the military needs.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. U.S. Suspends Pipeline

The federal government has ordered work to stop on one segment of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in the state of North Dakota, and has asked for a “voluntary pause” in work on a wider area that a Native American tribe holds sacred. The order came minutes after a judge rejected a request by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to halt construction on the $3.8 billion four-state pipeline entirely. The tribe has challenged pipeline permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at more than 200 water crossings. Tribal leaders allege that the project violates federal laws, will harm water supplies and has disturbed ancient sites sacred to the tribe. Development projects like the Dakota Access pipeline often draw opposition from people in affected areas. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a situation. Write a paragraph summarizing why people opposed the development and what happened as a result. Write a second paragraph detailing how the case could guide officials and Native American officials in the Dakota Access case.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4. College Shutdown Strands 35,000

One of the nation’s largest for-profit educational companies has closed nearly all its college campuses, leaving about 35,000 students and 8,000 employees in the lurch. ITT Educational Services blames its shutdown on the U.S. Education Department’s decision to bar the chain of colleges from using federal financial aid to enroll students. ITT’s recruitment, lending practices and educational quality have been under scrutiny by federal regulators and state prosecutors for years. Students can try to transfer their credits to another school, although few quality schools may be willing to accept the credits. For-profit colleges have drawn attention from critics across the country who feel they do not deliver a quality of education that can lead to solid jobs. For-profits even have been part of the presidential race with discussion about Trump University. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about for-profit colleges. Use what you read to write a consumer column for the newspaper offering students advice about for-profit colleges.

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.

5. U.S. Incomes Up Sharply

Here’s some good economic news: Poverty was down in the United States last year, and incomes rose sharply for most households. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that median household income rose to $56,500 last year, up 5.2 percent from the previous year. The percentage of Americans living in poverty showed its sharpest decline in decades. For the country as a whole, however, the economic recovery remains incomplete, economists advise. Median household income is still 1.6 percent lower than it was in 2007 (adjusted for inflation) and 2.4 percent lower than in the late 1990s. The number of people living in poverty, although down 8 percent from the prior year, remains high. Economic news affects every family in one way or another. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about economic news affecting your community, state or the nation. Use what you read to write a short editorial analyzing how the news could affect families and your community. Design a chart or graph to illustrate some data contained in the story you read.

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; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.