For Grades 9-12 , week of May 24, 2021

1. Help for Kids

One of the most important parts of the Covid relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Biden is increased support for families with children. Now the plan to reduce childhood poverty has taken a giant step forward with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service announcing that monthly cash payments will start in July. Under the plan families will receive a payment of $300 per month for children under 6 and $250 per month for children older than 6. The monthly payments will be deposited directly in most families’ bank accounts, with others receiving paper checks or debit cards. The President said the program will help more than 65 million children — or 88 percent of all U.S. kids nationwide. High-income parents will receive a smaller benefit or none at all. The plan to aid families with children has gotten great attention and discussion across the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and read commentary pieces or editorials about the impact this will have, both on families and on the government. Use what you read to write a political column offering your views on the impact of the plan, positive or negative.

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.

2. Beads Controversy

One of the effects of the Black Lives Matter movement has been that it has forced people to examine systemic racism, discrimination and disrespect of Black culture in their communities. In the state of North Carolina, a 16-year-old, Black softball player has become the center of controversy after she was forced to cut off her hair beads to play in a game. Nicole Pyles, who plays for a public high school in the city of Durham, had played other games with the beads but was asked to remove them by an umpire when an opposing white coach objected. Her teammates tried to quickly unbraid them, but some wouldn’t budge and had to be cut out. “I felt embarrassed and I most definitely felt disrespected,” Pyles told the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. The state high school athletic association defended the umpire, saying state rules prohibit hair beads. Durham Public Schools condemned the “culturally biased and problematic” ban and called for the association to revise its hair policy, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Pyles herself told a local newspaper the policy on hair beads should be repealed because it discriminates against Black athletes. “Who else wears beads?” she said. “… Only Black girls.” Communities and institutions are taking a fresh look at rules and traditions as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one case in which a community or institution is doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, explaining the situation and what you think should be done.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. A First for Women

The U.S. Marine Corps takes pride in running what it believes is the toughest boot camp training of all the U.S. military branches. Both men and women go through it, but until recently they didn’t do it together at the Marines’ training facility in San Diego, California. That changed this month. For the first time, a platoon of women completed the training alongside five platoons of men. The 53 women in Platoon 3241 graduated this month after 13 weeks of training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot / Camp Pendleton. To earn full Marine status they had to complete the notorious 54-hour “Crucible” exercise and the 10-mile “Reaper” hike over multiple hills and ridges, carrying 70 pounds of gear. The Marines had resisted training men and women together but were forced to do so by passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which required co-ed training. Women are breaking new ground in many career fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one example. Use what you read to write a letter to a younger girl, telling her what has happened and why it is important for girls and women.

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.

4. Help from a Stranger

A famous play once declared that you sometimes benefit by depending “on the kindness of strangers.” An Uber driver in the city of Atlanta, Georgia found out that can certainly be true, after a passenger she did not know helped her graduate from college. Latonya Young was struggling to pay her bills when she picked up Kevin Esch. She needed money for her utility bill and later discovered she couldn’t re-enroll at Georgia State University until she paid off a $693 debt she owed the college from eight years earlier. In both cases, Esch stepped forward, tipping Young $150 on a ride to cover the utility bill and then secretly paying off the college debt so she could re-enroll, the Washington Post newspaper reported. When she found out, all he asked was that she finish college. She did, first earning an associate’s degree in criminal justice and then a full bachelor’s degree. At each graduation Esch was in the audience, cheering her on. “It was just pure pride,” Esch said. “She is such an inspiration.” Kevin Esch was inspired by Latonya Young for her determination to change her life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else who is inspiring others by changing their life. Use what you read to prepare a two-minute TV news report about the inspiring person. Write the text and note what images you would use. Explain how you chose what to use for the opening scene of your report.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. Floating on Air

Have you ever wished you could fly like a bird in the sky? If you have, you might want to check out one of the newest attractions in New York City this fall — an all-glass elevator that will make riders feel like they are floating on air. With glass walls, ceiling and floor, the elevator will take riders 1,210 feet up the side of the new Summit One Vanderbilt tower — a distance greater than four football fields. The elevator ride will then drop people off at a four-level, 65,000-square-foot entertainment area and observation deck at the top of what will be New York’s fourth tallest building, CNN News reports. A spokesman said the elevator ride will be “awe inspiring [and] magical and needs to be experienced to be understood.” Businesses and communities all over the world are creating new attractions to entertain and interest people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these attractions. Use what you read to write a travel column rating two or three of the new attractions and why they would appeal to visitors.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.