Current Event May 17, 2015
An investigation in New York City has found that hundreds of nail salons are ignoring workers’ rights. Middle and upper class customers have come to expect cheap manicures and until now, no one has questioned how the price can be so low. In a year long investigation for the New York Times journalist Sarah Maslin Nir found widespread wage theft and indentured servitude in an industry that puts its workers' health on the line. The two part series, “Unvarnished”, has prompted action from consumers and the state government. Listen to hear more from the reporter about her investigation and the reaction to the story.
Current Event May 15, 2015
The state of Montana is adopting a new approach to maintaining and reviving Native American languages in the state. The state’s new policy, to partially fund native language immersion in public schools, is very different from previous efforts to get rid of Native American language and culture through government boarding schools. Listen to learn more about the policies of the past and present, and why Native Americans in Montana feel strongly about passing their language on to the next generation.
Current Event May 14, 2015
An NFL investigation has confirmed that staffers for the New England Patriots purposefully deflated footballs used in the football game that qualified the Patriots for this year’s Super Bowl. The report also suggests that star quarterback Tom Brady knew. This scandal, known as Deflate-Gate, has led to a stiff penalty against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The penalty has the sports world talking about how it will affect the Patriots next season and whether the rule about ball inflation should be changed. Listen to learn more about this scandal and come to your own opinion.
Current Event May 10, 2015
On April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the constitutionality of state-level bans on gay marriage. This hearing combined four different cases and tackled two big questions: whether state bans on gay marriage are legal, and whether it is legal for states to not recognize marriages from states where gay marriage is legal. The cases sparked a long and heated Supreme Court session. A decision is expected at the end of June. Listen to hear questions and arguments from the justices on this controversial issue.
Current Event April 29, 2015
Tall, ultra-skinny fashion models have graced the runways in Paris, France for decades, but a new French law could change the look of models. The new law, which aims to fight anorexia and other eating disorders, requires employers ask models for a medical certificate proving they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 18. It also requires they periodically weigh their models to make sure they aren’t too thin. If companies use models that don’t meet these standards they face a fine and potential jail time.
Current Event April 23, 2015
Educators in Atlanta, Georgia have been convicted and in some cases sent to jail for orchestrating cheating on high-stakes tests in their school districts. An investigation found widespread evidence that educators were pressured to erase wrong answers on student tests and fill in the correct bubble. This is not the only example of cheating in school systems, but it is the largest. Listen to learn more how the federal No Child Left Behind law put so much pressure on school administrators that it led to the cheating scandal.
Update: One month after issuing the sentence, the judge in the Atlanta cheating case had a change of heart and reduced the sentences of three former educators from seven years in prison to three.
Current Event April 9, 2015
Where does your fish come from? A year-long journalistic investigation found that some of the fish that ends up in U.S. food products appears to have been been caught by slaves. People from Burma are being held against their will and forced to work loading and unloading fish on a remote island in Indonesia. When this modern day slavery was uncovered, reporters traced the route of this fish all the way to American stores, tables and pet food. Listen to learn more about how slavery still exists in parts of the world.
Current Event March 23, 2015
With college basketball’s March Madness Tournament heating up, all eyes are on college sports and the money they generate. From ticket sales, to merchandise, and TV rights, college sports bring more than just pride to their schools; they also generate huge amounts of money. College athletes are awarded scholarships to cover tuition, but they don’t get paid anything else. Is this fair? Athletes are speaking out and telling their stories of financial need. Listen to hear about one former college athlete who is challenging this system in court.
ELA High School
Our food supply is considered safe today thanks in large part to a movement to improve safety following the publication of the novel in 1906, "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. It was a vivid portrayal of the lives of immigrant families who worked in a meat-packing plant in Chicago. Americans were shocked and disgusted. This public radio story tells of how "The Jungle" galvanized public support to improve the safety of our food system.
ELA High School
Franz Kafka worked at an insurance company and wrote in his spare time. He asked that all his personal papers, including literary manuscripts be burned when he died. After Kafka’s death, his friend and literary executor Max Brod ignored Kafka’s wishes and published many of his manuscripts. "The Trial," a novel about law, justice and the arrest and prosecution of a man for an unknown crime, was one of these manuscripts. Other people face similar decisions around respecting the wishes of an artist or writer by destroying their work. Listen to a conversation with an ethicist as he discusses the implications of this debate through a modern day example.
ELA High School
In a real-life case that has shades of George Orwell’s "1984," the United States Supreme Court must weigh the public good against privacy. Does putting a GPS monitoring device on the car of suspected criminals violate their privacy? Or does it protect society? Listen to this audio story which addresses the issues in the novel "1984," as you discuss this recent case.
ELA Middle School
"The Giver" is a story about a world without memories. A new movie version of the novel depicts this world as a sterile, emotionless place. In this story, public radio talks with author Lois Lowry and how she came up with the idea to write the book. The book asks, “Would it be easier if we didn’t have memories?”
Current Event January 10, 2014
Food shouldn’t be used as a form of punishment, but some prisons do it. In some prisons, “the loaf” is a bland form of food, given to disruptive inmates. Is this ethical? Listen to this story and discuss the merits of this form of discipline.
Current Event November 8, 2013
Mary Shelley’s gothic classic “Frankenstein” was published anonymously when she was just twenty. The novel was a horror story, but it was also part of the romantic movement and is considered by some to be one of the first science fiction novels. Shelley’s work has been retold through illustration and movies in the past, but not all have been true to the original story. A new graphic novel by artist Gris Grimly brings this tale to life with care and accuracy. Listen to learn what drew Gris Grimly to the story and what drove him to create this graphic novel.