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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 07, 2022

1. Election Push

Tuesday is Election Day and candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and governorships around the nation are making their final push to win support from voters. The issues candidates stress in the last days of an election often reveal which voters they think will be most important to their prospects. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a hotly contested race for U.S. Senate, U.S. House or a governorship of a state. Make a list of the issues the candidates are stressing. Use what you read to write an analysis of what type of voter each thinks is the most important to his/her success on Election Day. Include how the candidates are seeking to connect with those voters through television ads, the Internet or social media. Share your views with the class and discuss.

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.

2. Comeback Candidates

The United States is not the only nation that is having an important election this fall. In the Middle East nation of Israel and the South American nation of Brazil, voters have gone to the polls to choose national leaders — and each has picked a comeback candidate as the winner. In Israel, longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has earned enough support in the nation’s Knesset legislature to return to office and add to his record 15 years as Prime Minister. In Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated current President Jair Bolsonaro to win a third term as Brazil’s president. Netanyahu, who is 73, is supported by far-right members of the Knesset and is likely to head one of the most extremely conservative governments in history with regard to relations with the Palestinian Arab State and other Mideast nations. Lula, who is 77, brings a left-of-center, progressive agenda to Brazil’s government after three years of Bolsonaro’s extreme and far-right policies on issues such as preserving the Amazon rain forest, development and social justice. Lula previously served as Brazil’s president for two terms from 2003 to 2010. Elections in other countries often can affect their relationship with the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the elections in Israel, Brazil or another nation. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing the importance of one election to the interests of the United States.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Spreading Stress

Everyone knows that stress can cause physical and emotional reactions in people. Heartbeats increase, people sweat and their moods can become edgy or nervous. But can one person spread stress to another, as if it were a virus or common cold? Yes, say scientists who study stress. And they are gathering evidence from the animal kingdom that shows it doesn’t just happen in humans, the Washington Post newspaper reports. They call this “stress contagion” (as in “contagious”), and it is caused by hormones in the body that spike in stressful situations. When people experience stress in others, their bodies release jolts of the energy-producing hormones adrenaline and cortisol, researchers say. And the same thing happens in animals, birds and even fish in the natural world. “You have the same phenomenon occurring in very different species,” one scientist said. Dealing with stress is a challenge for many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways people can deal with stress in school, sports or work situations. Use what you read to write a Help or Advice Column providing tips and solutions for dealing with stress and reducing it. Share with the class and discuss things that are stressful in your life and how you deal with it.

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.

4. ‘Bikini Baristas’

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted 154 years ago to ensure that no state could make a law that would curtail privileges guaranteed to all U.S. citizens; or deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process; or deny any person the equal protection of the law. Its original intent was to ensure that freed slaves would be treated equally after America’s Civil War, but a judge in the state of Washington has now declared it also applies to women baristas who serve coffee and other fast foods while wearing bikinis. The order was issued by a U.S. District Court judge in a case that has been going on for years regarding local ordinances passed by the city of Everett, Washington to regulate what servers could wear. Servers who wore bikinis at a coffee stand known as Hillbilly Hotties sued the city claiming that the ordinances deprived the “bikini baristas” of equal protection under the law because the rules singled out women’s clothing, not men’s, CNN News reported. “This Ordinance clearly treats women differently than men by banning a wide variety of women’s clothing, not just … bikinis,” U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled. “The restrictions are so detailed they effectively prescribe the clothes to be worn by women in quick service facilities.” The “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment has been cited in a wide range of lawsuits and legal cases. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one case. Use what you read and additional research to write a political column analyzing whether the equal protection clause should apply in the case. In making your argument, include cases in which you think the clause SHOULD apply.

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.

5. All Electric Cars

On the continent of Europe, countries that are part of the European Union make decisions together that will benefit all member nations. After months of negotiations, the European Union has reached a political agreement that would be a major step toward reducing air pollution and global warming. The decision would effectively ban new cars that are not powered by electricity starting in the year 2035, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The move would bring about a 100 percent reduction in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from new cars and vans, experts said. Carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning fossil fuels like oil and gasoline, is a huge contributor to global warming because it traps heat in the atmosphere. The legislation, which still needs to be approved formally to become law, was hailed as a giant step forward by environmentalists and agencies working to reduce global warming. “The days of the carbon-spewing, pollution-belching combustion engine are finally numbered,” noted one environmental leader. Nations around the world are taking steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and slow global warming. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one nation’s efforts. Use what you read to write an editorial assessing whether this nation’s approach could be a model for the United States or other nations.

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.