, week of
Feb. 19, 2018
1. A Teen Governor?
In politics, people often say that the voices of teens and young people don't get heard. That's not the case in the state of Kansas this year, where six teenagers are running for governor! The teen candidacies have been made possible by a loophole in Kansas state law that sets no age requirement for running for office. When 17-year-old Jack Bergeson learned that, he filed papers to run for governor as a Democrat this November. Five other teens quickly entered the race as well, three as Republicans, one as an Independent and one as a Libertarian. Though the law had been on the books for years, state lawmakers had not paid attention to the loophole. Now they are proposing legislation to close it. One proposal would require candidates to be at least 18 to run for office and another would raise the age for running for governor to 30. Kansas, Vermont and Massachusetts are the only U.S. states that don't have an age requirement to run for governor. What issues would you focus on if you were a candidate for governor? Use the newspaper and Internet to research three issues you would emphasize as a candidate. Then use what you read to write a campaign speech outlining your views on the issues. Deliver speeches and discuss 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; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
2. New Obama Portraits
As the nation's first African American President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama made history in the White House. This month, they made history again, when the National Portrait Gallery gave the nation its first look at the official portraits chosen by the former First Couple. The portraits not only are a break with the style of most past portraits of Presidents - they are the first painted by African American artists. The former President's portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley, an artist from New York City known for high profile portraits of entertainment stars like Michael Jackson, LL Cool J and the Notorious B.I.G. Michelle Obama's portrait was painted by Amy Sherald, an award winning artist from Baltimore, Maryland. In his portrait, the former President is seen seated casually on a chair in front of a background of leaves and symbolic flowers. The former First Lady is shown seated in a flowing, fashionable gown with her chin in her hand. The portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have caused a great deal of discussion because they are a break from tradition. In the newspaper or online, find photos of the portraits and closely read commentary about them. Then pretend you are an art critic and write a review of the portraits, giving your opinion about them.
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. 28-Hour Work Week
Around the world, the number of hours people work at their jobs varies from nation to nation. In the United States the average work week is about 35 hours, though many people work much more. In the European nation of Germany, workers soon will be given the option of working just 28 hours per week, due to a groundbreaking agreement between a major labor union and leading companies. The union known as IG Metall has negotiated a history-making deal to give a large number of its 2.3 million members the option to work 28 hours a week for up to two years, before returning to the standard 35-hour week. The deal, which will take effect next year, will benefit workers for such leading companies as the Daimler corporation, which makes Mercedes-Benz cars. A 28-hour work week would give people more time to devote to their personal lives, interests and families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people devoting more time to their personal lives. Then write an opinion column describing how someone you know might take advantage of more personal time away from work, and how that would benefit him or her.
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 m0ake logical inferences from it.
4. Family Feud
There could be some interesting family dinners for Wisconsin's Nicholson family this year. Republican Kevin Nicholson has announced he is running for U.S. Senate in a bid to unseat incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin in 2018. His parents, Democrats Donna and Michael Nicholson, responded by donating the maximum allowed by law to Baldwin's primary election campaign. The Nicholson parents have been longtime supporters of Democratic candidates and organizations, while Kevin Nicholson is running as a conservative Republican. He says he became a conservative based on his experiences as a U.S. Marine, a Christian and a parent. "My parents have a different worldview than I do," he said. According to filings by the Baldwin campaign, the Nicholson parents donated the maximum of $2,700 each to her primary effort, and can do the same in the general election. The 2018 election is important in Washington, DC, because it will determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. That in turn could affect how successful President Trump is passing legislation he wants. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about important races for the U.S. Senate and House. Use what you read to write a political column discussing races that could be the most competitive.
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.
5. Fix Those Roads
As a candidate, President Trump vowed to make a major investment in improving America's roads, bridges and airports -known together as the nation's "infrastructure." This month the President unveiled a $1.5 trillion plan for fixing infrastructure - but only $200 billion would be paid for by the federal government. The rest, according to the President's proposal, would be paid for by state and local governments, which will be asked to match any federal money by at least a four-to-one ratio under an incentive plan involving $100 billion in federal money. How state and local governments would come up with their share is uncertain, since many already have financial problems and cash shortages. Improving roads, bridges and other kinds of infrastructure is important to every state because they are used by both individuals and businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about infrastructure improvements leaders in your state would like to make. Use what you read to write an editorial examining one project and why it is important to individuals and businesses.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
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