Current Event May 14, 2021
The U.S. Postal Service has been delivering mail and packages for over 250 years and consistently ranks as Americans’ most trusted government agency. But ever since the start of email, the postal service has been losing money. Some suggest that closing post offices or using the buildings for other essential government services could help save the institution financially. Others say post offices should not be closed. Their long history and central role in the community, they argue, make post offices worth preserving, regardless of revenue. Listen to learn more about the troubles of the U.S. Postal Service and then debate: Should some post offices be closed?
Current Event May 3, 2021
The term “herd immunity” means that an entire population is protected against a disease. Herd immunity is achieved when most people in a group are immune to an illness, limiting the ability of germs to spread. The U.S. is vaccinating people against COVID-19 as quickly as possible in an effort to reach 85% of the population, the number medical experts say is needed for herd immunity. Many people are reluctant to get vaccinated, however, raising concerns among public health officials about the country’s ability to achieve its goal and beat the virus. Listen to learn about the push to achieve herd immunity and how public health officials are addressing vaccine hesitancy.
Update: Since this story aired, everyone in the U.S. aged 16 and over has become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Current Event April 27, 2021
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased over the last year, as anti-Asian scapegoating rhetoric, harassment, and violence have accompanied the pandemic. The alarming trend has affected Asian Americans in a variety of ways. In this audio story, three teens explain how this threatening social climate has affected their day-to-day lives. Listen to hear the students describe their experiences at school, why they fear for their families, and what they are doing to stay safe.
Current Event April 14, 2021
The residents of Vancouver, Washington have said goodbye to a beloved old friend: a 194-year-old apple tree. The state of Washington produces more apples than anywhere else in the country, and the old apple tree was widely considered the “mother” of the apple industry there. Residents protected her when city planners threatened to chop her down and celebrated her life at an annual festival. Listen to learn who planted the apple seeds that grew into the famous tree and why she has so many descendants.
Current Event March 28, 2021
Listen to hear about a golden retriever celebrating a milestone birthday.
Vocabulary: milestone, breed
Current Event March 3, 2021
A 9-year-old boy in Colorado has raised thousands of dollars for food banks by writing and selling his own newsletter. He was inspired to help after learning that many people are unemployed during the pandemic, and some struggle with hunger. Writing his kid-friendly newsletter has connected him with neighbors and taught him what it means to be a journalist. Listen to an interview with a young writer to learn why he started a fund-raising project and what he likes best about the job.
Current Event February 21, 2021
Listen to hear about a woman who cooked over a thousand lasagnas for her neighbors.
Vocabulary: fund, furloughed
Current Event January 24, 2021
Listen to hear about a jeweler’s giant treasure hunt in Michigan.
Vocabulary: dramatically, participate
Current Event December 9, 2020
The number of Americans who do not have enough food has increased dramatically during the pandemic. To address this problem of food insecurity, groups across the country are putting refrigerators filled with free food in public places and inviting people to take what they need. The “freedges” are feeding thousands of people, many of whom had never visited a food bank. Listen to hear more about a grassroots effort to feed hungry Americans, and learn why one activist worries about the sustainability of the movement.
Current Event December 6, 2020
Listen to hear about a farmer who invited his neighbors to help solve a mystery.
Vocabulary: ornate, speculation
Current Event November 17, 2020
In a recently released documentary, Pope Francis said he approved of civil unions for homosexual couples. A civil union is a legal partnership arrangement, like a marriage, granted by state authorities. The pope’s supportive words gave hope to the LGBTQ community, which has often felt excluded by the church. It also caused confusion, however, since his statement conflicts with official church policy. Listen to learn more about the pope’s unexpected announcement, and hear how Catholics have responded.
Current Event October 30, 2020
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, schools closed around the country in an effort to slow community spread of the disease. A new study, though, concludes that schools do not seem to be superspreader sites where infection spreads rapidly and dramatically. Based on data from Texas, it appears that schools tend to reflect community infection rates. While anxiety remains high among some about the potential for COVID-19 to spread in schools, evidence suggests that when the virus does enter a school, it can usually be contained if public health recommendations are being followed. Listen to the author explain the implications of her study and then debate: Should school buildings be open?
Current Event September 21, 2020
Latinx communities have been hit hard by the coronavirus. The vast majority of those who have contracted COVID-19 in Marin County, CA are Latinx. Many work low-wage jobs and live in crowded conditions, making it especially difficult to take the necessary steps to stay safe. The disproportionately high rate of infections in Latinx communities has highlighted the large gaps in income and access to healthcare in the U.S. Listen to hear about the challenges faced by a Latinx community in California and learn what one nonprofit is doing to address the health crisis.