Current Event April 9, 2021
Many students have struggled academically and socially during the pandemic. Some education leaders are suggesting that a longer school year could help fill the learning gaps. It would allow at-risk students to get the academic support they need and give all students a chance to reconnect socially after a year of relative isolation. Summer jobs, camp, and family time would suffer, though, and some are unwilling to give up these valuable activities. Listen to a school superintendent discuss his plans for extending the school year and then debate: Should kids go to school all year round?
Current Event March 29, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced new guidance recommending that students should stay three feet away from others, rather than six feet, which was the previous recommendation, provided they are following other safety guidelines like wearing masks. The updated guidance is based on new research showing that COVID-19 transmission rates did not differ among schools maintaining three feet of distance in classrooms versus six feet. Many school leaders welcome the change, as it will help more schools return to full-time, in-person learning. Listen to learn more about the CDC’s new guidelines, the research behind them, and how they could affect school schedules.
Current Event March 18, 2021
After being canceled during the pandemic, many high school sports are starting up again. This audio story focuses on a high school girls’ tennis team in California where athletes are both nervous and excited to resume play. Listen to learn how one school community is handling the reopening of school sports, and hear high school athletes describe what this moment means to them.
Current Event March 8, 2021
The city of Washington, D.C., hosted a mass COVID-19 vaccination event for its public school employees. It was a huge operation requiring hundreds of volunteers and provided vaccinations to thousands of workers in one day. For this audio story, a reporter visited the event and asked attendees to share their thoughts on getting vaccinated. Listen to hear from a school custodian, a teacher, and a principal who received their shots, and hear a doctor explain how he addresses peoples’ fears about the vaccine.
Current Event February 19, 2021
Remote schooling during the pandemic has negatively affected both the learning and the mental health of many students. As schools start to resume in-person learning, some people are suggesting that summer school could help. They argue that extending the school year would allow time for intensive programs to help students catch up academically and reconnect with teachers and peers. Summer school programs cost money, though, and require teachers to work extra hours. Listen to learn about programs that have helped struggling students in the past and then debate: Should learning time extend into the summer?
Current Event February 11, 2021
Before the pandemic, a snowstorm often meant a day off from school because it made transportation difficult. Now, with many students learning from home, snow days are often unnecessary. After a recent storm, one school superintendent in West Virginia decided to declare one anyway, although they were remote, to give kids and their families the chance to experience the many joys a snow day brings. Listen to a school leader explain why she called off school and how people responded.
Current Event January 29, 2021
Fifty-five West Point cadets caught cheating on an exam have been placed in a rehabilitation program and allowed to remain on campus, sparking controversy. West Point is an elite military academy that prides itself on its high ethical standards. In the past, students who have violated the school’s honor code have been expelled. Some say the more lenient policy gives young cadets the opportunity to make amends for and learn from their actions, resulting in stronger leaders. Others argue that not taking cheating seriously enough could undermine the school’s core values of integrity and responsibility. Listen to a West Point professor discuss the scandal and then debate: Should West Point students be expelled for cheating?
Current Event January 4, 2021
A prestigious Rhodes Scholarship was recently awarded to the first Latino DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. The Rhodes Scholarship offers college graduates an opportunity to study at Oxford University in England. Rhodes Scholarships are among the most competitive and respected awards in the world. The winner, Santiago Potes, was brought to the U.S. from Colombia at age four by his parents, who entered the country illegally. Listen to learn about the influences in Santiago’s life that helped him succeed, and hear how he reacted when he got the good news.
Current Event December 17, 2020
The cancellation of school sports during the pandemic has had a big impact on students. Without structured sports activities, many kids lose the opportunity to exercise, socialize, and develop teamwork skills. For some students, the loss of school sports may even dash their hopes of attending college. Listen to hear high school athletes explain the importance of sports in their lives, and learn why many students may not return to sports after the pandemic ends.
Current Event December 4, 2020
Americans living in rural areas often have little or no access to high-speed internet, also called broadband. Broadband is used for many everyday activities and essential tasks, including remote learning. Some argue that access to broadband is a basic need, and the government should supply it to every American household, just as it provides access to electricity and clean water. Ensuring that broadband reaches the remotest corners of the country would require a major investment of time, effort, and money, competing with other funding priorities. Listen to people from rural areas describe the challenges of remote learning without broadband, and then debate: Should broadband access be a universal right?
Current Event December 1, 2020
A 12-year-old student from Georgia is enrolled in college with dreams of becoming an aerospace engineer. Caleb Anderson was an exceptionally smart baby, according to his parents. They recognized his gifts and supported him as he advanced quickly through school, outpacing his peers. Caleb’s unusual journey was not always smooth, though. Listen to hear how Caleb felt as the youngest kid in his 7th grade class, and learn why Caleb’s dad believes his son’s story can inspire other Black boys.
Current Event November 12, 2020
The pandemic has forced many schools around the country to educate students virtually. In this story, a student representative from a large public school district in Virginia talks about the impact of virtual learning on teens. He explains how long hours spent on a computer affect him and his peers, and why his classmates have varying opinions about returning to school in person. Listen to hear one high school student reflect on how the pandemic is affecting his senior year and what is on his mind as he looks ahead.
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 October 23, 2020
When the pandemic hit and schools closed in spring 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Education waived requirements for federal standardized testing in reading, math, and science. Recently, however, she said K-12 testing must resume. Those who support the move say the tests are a crucial tool in identifying students who have lost academic ground during the pandemic and can help to address the achievement gap. Opponents argue that the money would be better spent on other priorities, including collecting data locally much earlier on what kind of support students need. Listen to learn more about the controversy over testing and then debate: Should standardized tests resume?
Current Event October 22, 2020
High school students in Colorado took a trip that changed the way history is taught at their school. After the group traveled with their principal to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., they realized that aspects of Black history were left out of their school’s American history curriculum that they thought should be included. Listen to hear the principal explain how the students pushed for change and what effect she hopes the new curriculum will have on teaching and learning.
Current Event October 2, 2020
President Trump has established a new commission to promote what he calls “patriotic education.” Trump objects to teachers using resources such as the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which addresses the history of slavery and systemic racism in America. He suggests that learning about these issues will brainwash students into hating their country and prefers that the curriculum focus on America’s strengths, such as its foundational democratic principles. Many educators believe that students benefit from examining America’s history in all its complexity, including where it has fallen short of the ideals expressed in its founding documents. Listen to hear more about the battle over teaching history and then debate: Is studying America’s flaws unpatriotic?
Current Event September 25, 2020
The dramatic events of recent months, including a worldwide pandemic, protests over racial injustice, and raging wildfires in the West, are on the minds of students and teachers, and some teachers are incorporating them into the curriculum. They say placing current events in the context of classroom study helps students make sense of the issues and boosts their civic engagement. Others worry that these issues can be polarizing or upsetting and want the classroom to be an escape for students from the drama taking place outside of school. Listen to secondary school teachers explain their views on bringing current issues into the classroom and then debate: Should teachers address current events?