Current Event May 25, 2018
Some California school districts recently tried providing the SAT for free during the school day for high school juniors. While the cost for this first year was funded by a grant, future years of free SATs could be provided by a California bill that would allow school districts to to pay for the SAT or ACT rather than standardized tests. Supporters of this bill think it is important to reduce barriers to taking the SAT, while opponents argue that standardized tests are absolutely necessary. Listen to this story about how one high school is offering the SAT for free and then debate: Should the SAT be free in schools?
Current Event February 22, 2017
Recently President Trump has publicly criticized individual judges who have ordered temporary halts to his travel ban. Trump has questioned judges’ motives, claiming these decisions are political and have nothing to do with actual legal concerns. His personal attacks on individual judges is unprecedented in U.S. history. American democracy rests on a balance of three branches of government: the executive, legislative and judicial. Although presidents have disagreed with court decisions and complained privately in the past, none have ever made public attacks against individual judges. Listen to learn more about the relationship between presidents and the courts in the past and the implications of Trump’s recent criticisms.
Current Event May 21, 2016
A former high school English teacher sits down with a former student. Like many students at his high school, he never graduated. Now, his teacher asks him why. They discuss how he could have better supported his students and what they needed. The student explains that despite his kind efforts, school was always difficult for him. Listen to their conversation to hear more about the challenges of both the teacher and student.
Current Event March 28, 2018
Stephen Hawking was considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his generation. He was brilliant and funny and authored a best selling book titled “A Brief History of Time.” He had ALS, a disease that led to his paralysis. But he was able to overcome his adversity and do great work as a scientist by using a speech-generating device with the muscles in his cheek. As a theoretical physicist, his work explored the mysteries of the universe and black holes and inspired millions of people. Listen to this story about Stephen Hawking’s life and accomplishments.
Current Event February 16, 2018
Instead of going to a restaurant to pick up food, you can have it delivered to your home. That’s nothing new. But some restaurants are experimenting with using a robot to deliver orders. The robot is equipped with cameras that allow it to observe the street signs, lights, and roads around them to know how and when to cross streets. Some fear this invention may replace jobs held by people, but the company says they are not a replacement for humans. Listen to learn the capabilities of these delivery robots and then debate: Are deliveries by robots a good idea?
Current Event October 25, 2017
Most people want to buy new phones with the latest technology, but new devices lead to electronic waste, or e-waste, when old phones are discarded. Phone companies used to offer free phones with contracts, which meant people got new phones every two years. Now contracts are changing and there are new ways people are thinking about phones. One way is the modular approach, where the components are detachable and replaceable. Another is to create longer-lasting phones that are better for the environment. Listen to this story about how new technology can help eliminate electronic waste.
Current Event February 12, 2018
Many children, teens, and adults spend a lot of time looking at screens. Whether it’s an addiction or merely troubling behavior, too much screen time can interfere with other activities, create changes in your mood, and cause other problems. A former executive from Google was so concerned about the public health risks of too much screen time, he started a company that tries to inform people about how addictive technology can be. Listen to learn how companies are responding to the growing concerns about too much technology.
Current Event October 21, 2016
Affordable housing is become increasingly scarce in many cities around the country. Many low-income tenants often find themselves unable to pay their rent and at risk of eviction. Most tenants who fail to pay rent and are taken to court have no lawyer, while most landlords do. Some people believe this could be improved by providing free legal help to tenants. Listen to hear stories of people facing eviction and the struggle for affordable housing. Then debate whether the government should have a role in increasing affordable housing.
Current Event October 16, 2015
With the most recent school shooting at a Community College in Oregon, gun control is still a hot topic of debate. Passing stricter gun control laws is a political challenge. Voters who oppose gun control often decide who to vote for based only on this issue. Politicians don’t want to be hurt in the next election and are reluctant to propose strict gun control laws. However, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has proposed new gun control legislation in the past and is currently introducing new legislation. Listen to this story and then have your class debate whether new gun control laws will keep Americans safer.
Current Event April 2, 2018
Sparked by outrage over the Parkland, Florida school shooting, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington, D.C. to demand gun regulation in an event called "March for Our Lives." It was one of the biggest rallies for gun control ever and over a million people marched in cities across America and around the globe. The survivors of the Parkland shooting helped organize the events and spoke at several rallies. Listen to hear the reactions of people who attended the rally to push for changes in gun laws.
Current Event May 18, 2018
In the wake of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, discussions about how to keep students safe have resurfaced. One approach is to employ school resource officers (SROs), police who monitor school grounds and respond to any threats. About 30 percent of all schools utilize SROs, but studies reveal that having dedicated police officers on campus doesn’t improve safety. In addition, SROs can actually cause issues for students, making their suspension, expulsion, or even arrest more likely. This is particularly problematic for students of color. For these reasons, some students argue that the money spent on SROs should be directed to other programs. Listen to hear more about the SRO debate: Do Police in Schools Make it Safer?
Current Event March 23, 2018
President Trump met with governors at the White House to discuss gun policy and school safety. He wants to see more teachers armed, making sure they are appropriately trained and have the right skills. Some people think that would be a good defense against school shooters, but many teachers do not want to carry a weapon in the classroom. Listen to hear more about guns in schools and what might be done to keep students safe and then debate: Should teachers carry guns?
Current Event March 26, 2018
Across the country students walked out of their classrooms to protest the mass shooting that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and called for stricter gun laws. The protest was 17 minutes long in honor of each person killed during the shooting. There was another protest on March 24 in Washington D.C. and cities across the country called March for Our Lives, which aimed to end gun violence and mass shootings. Listen to hear from students at a high school in Philadelphia during the walk out, and more about these protests.
Current Event February 27, 2018
Students who witnessed the deadly school shooting in Florida are channeling their rage and grief into activism for gun reform. The classmates of the 17 people who were killed by a gunman in a Parkland, Florida high school are demanding state lawmakers ban assault rifles. There are protests and school walkouts planned across the country, in an effort to encourage lawmakers to rethink their positions on guns. Listen to one of the the high school students who survived the shooting as she talks about why she has become a gun control activist.
Current Event May 24, 2018
Philadelphia’s public school system has hundreds of broken musical instruments. In order to raise money to repair them, professional musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra along with school children will perform Pulitzer prize-winning composer David Lang’s new piece, “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.” This composition highlights the “wounded” nature of these instruments to create a unique sound. Listen to how the composer wants to emphasize the community of the orchestra and how diverse musicians can come together to create something beautiful.