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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 02, 2023

1. MORE THAN A MOVIE

Michael Oher, the former NFL player whose story inspired the movie “The Blind Side,” made headlines last week when a judge ended the conservatorship that gave some of Oher’s rights to Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, the couple that took him in when he was a teenager. Under the conservatorship, the Tuohys had power of attorney for Oher, meaning they could sign documents on his behalf, access to his medical records, and he couldn’t sign a contract without their approval. Oher said that he was misled into agreeing to the arrangement under the premise that he would be adopted by the Tuohys. He is also seeking money that he said he should’ve earned from “The Blind Side” movie that shared his story, as well as an injunction to keep the Tuohys from benefitting from his name and likeness going forward. The conservatorship in this case was unusual, as Oher does not have any physical or psychological disabilities; they’re usually granted to those who lack capacity to make important decisions, such as legal or medical ones. Read more about the case in your newspaper or online. Then, write an article summarizing why the Tuohys sought a conservatorship for Oher in the first place and what that meant for his life until now.

2. CHILDCARE CRISIS

Funding for the American Rescue Plan, which provided federal money for childcare centers across the US to help keep them open during the pandemic, was set to end last weekend, which could prompt an estimated 70,000 facilities across the US to close. The $24 billion in federal spending helped pay workers’ salaries and waive family payment requirements, making childcare more available and accessible. Without it, 3.2 million children could be without care, which could in turn cause more women to leave the workforce as the burden of caring for their families falls to them. Even facilities that remain open are becoming out of reach for some parents—childcare costs have risen faster than inflation five months in a row. Write an article summarizing how the American Rescue Plan was helping families in the US and how the closure of so many childcare facilities would impact other areas of the economy and society.

3. CALIFORNIA GUN REFORM

California is taking a bold approach to gun safety with a series of new laws signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Among them, one will ban people from carrying firearms in 26 varieties of public places while another will double the taxes on guns and ammunition sold in the state, using the extra revenue to pay for gun violence prevention programs and security improvements in public schools. Many will likely face the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, which has just recently struck down another California law that banned guns with detachable magazines that carry more than ten rounds. However, Newsom says the recent laws were drafted with the Supreme Court’s new standard of interpreting the Second Amendment in mind and he hopes they will be upheld. Read more about the new laws signed by Gov. Newsom in your newspaper or online. Then, write an article summarizing them and theorize about what kind of legal challenges they might face in the Supreme Court if they’re challenged.

4. RANDOM TESTING

The Navy announced that beginning in November, it will randomly test its special operations forces, including Navy SEALs, for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to protect the health of enlistees. The Army also announced it would soon follow suit with its special operations forces like the Delta Force, Green Berets, and Ranger Regiment. These special forces groups often carry out the military’s most dangerous and secretive missions with the most rigorous physical and mental conditions. The use of performance-enhancing drugs can be tempting in these situations, but can cause longterm health problems. Research the Navy or Army special operations forces and the physical and mental training they face as well as the effects of performance-enhancing drugs on the mind and body. Then, write an article summarizing what they go through and why performance-enhancing drugs could be dangerous in that situation.

5. A STUDY OF DISHONESTY

Famous behavioral scientistsDan Ariely and Francesca Gino garnered acclaim for their research on dishonesty and how to nudge people to behave in more honest ways. However, recently, the pair have been under intense scrutiny for whether the data for the paper they coauthored on the subject was, in fact, fabricated. One blog did a deep dive of the data, looking at everything from the distribution of the results to the fonts used and posting evidence to suggest that some was fabricated or falsified. One source that provided data for the study confirmed that their data was altered between when they sent it to Ariely and when the paper was published; Ariely denied having manipulated it. Read more about this story online, such as on NPR, the New Yorker and the evidence from Data Colada Then, write an article summarizing the facts that were asserted in the paper and why they are now believed to be fabricated.