Current Event June 17, 2019
While giving her valedictorian speech at her graduation, a Texas high school student was cut off before finishing. School administrators had asked the student to remove what they believed were controversial elements in her speech, but she chose not to do that. Listen to hear more about what the student felt was important to include in her speech, despite the school’s objections, and why.
Current Event June 12, 2019
Students around the world have been skipping school to protest their governments’ lack of action on climate change. Now, this movement has come to the United States. American students are gathering together to demand that Congress take action to protect them from the effects of climate change. Listen to find out more about what students are asking of their government leaders and why.
Current Event June 5, 2019
The most recent recipient of the National Teacher of the Year award does not teach in a typical public school classroom. Rodney Robinson works in a juvenile jail with students of many ages and skill levels, and he is dedicated to helping his students learn and succeed. Listen to hear how this National Teacher of the Year supports his students’ learning and what he thinks needs to change about the American public school system.
Current Event May 15, 2019
A fourth-grader in Texas had an idea to help kids put down their digital devices and have some fun outdoors. She partnered with a state representative to write a bill that would make state parks free to fifth-graders and their families. Listen to find out more about the case the student made to state legislators and next steps in making her idea a reality.
Current Event May 10, 2019
In 2017, five students who sprayed racist graffiti on a historic African-American schoolhouse received a sentence designed to educate them about how racism has impacted people’s lives throughout history. They were assigned twelve books to read and respond to in writing. Listen to this interview with the state official who devised this unusual sentence and then debate: Can tolerance be taught?
Current Event May 8, 2019
What would you do if you spotted a rattlesnake? A Texan man is in the business of removing unwanted snakes from underneath people’s houses. He has been fascinated with snakes all his life, and he has figured out a way to earn a living helping people and snakes at the same time. Listen to this interview with the man to learn about his passion for snakes and how it inspired his work.
Current Event May 1, 2019
A Washington, D.C. tutoring program is based on a unique concept for helping struggling students learn to read. In the Reach program, high school students tutor elementary school students in reading, and both benefit from the experience. Listen to this story to learn how both elementary and high school students are benefiting from this program.
Current Event April 26, 2019
Lockdown drills to prepare for safety threats have become increasingly common in U.S. schools. Mental health experts worry about the negative effects these drills might be having on vulnerable children. Others believe that lockdown drills in schools make people feel safe and prepared. Listen to this story to hear more about the ways that lockdown drills affect students and debate: Should schools have lockdown drills?
Current Event March 28, 2019
A recent scandal has exposed multiple cases of bribery and fraud in college admissions. A number of wealthy parents paid to falsify test scores and applications and bribe coaches to get their children admitted to competitive colleges. While these actions are clearly illegal, there are other ways in which privileged students have been able to influence the college admissions process that feel unfair to students who have had to earn their place without those advantages. Listen to hear college students talk about their reactions to the scandal and their views about inequities in the college admissions process.
Current Event March 26, 2019
Millions of American children do not have a home. When families are not able to afford housing, some live in homeless shelters, but there are many hardships facing students in those circumstances. Listen to this interview with an Idaho teenager and his grandmother about their experience of homelessness, how it has affected them, and how they find support in handling their daily challenges.
Current Event March 20, 2019
North American football has become well known to many people as a sport with serious injury risks. This growing awareness of the dangers of football has led to a general decrease in participation, but not for people from low socioeconomic backgrounds. A recent report suggests that the rate of participation for low-income children is on the rise. One reason that low-income children continue to play football may be the possibility of opportunity offered by the popular sport. Listen to hear more about this increasing participation gap, the reasons for it, and the implications for children and society at large.
ELA High School
In this interview, actor Henry Winkler discusses his own learning difference and that of Hank Zipzer, the main character in Winkler’s children’s book series. Hank, who is based on Winkler’s own experience as a child, struggles with learning to read, but works hard to succeed despite his challenges. Listen to learn more about Winkler’s story, how he persevered through his dyslexia and achieved success, and what he considers his greatest accomplishment.
Current Event March 4, 2019
Teachers across the country have been striking this year, asking for support in the form of smaller class sizes, more school nurses and counselors, and pay raises. While their specific demands differ somewhat across school districts, there are common themes. In addition to asking for higher pay for the work that they do, teachers are asking for improvements that would better meet the needs of students. In some cases, they are protesting policies that they believe are not helping students. Listen to this story to learn more about the recent national trend of organized teacher protests.
Current Event February 22, 2019
A recent lawsuit against Harvard University alleged that the university discriminates unfairly against Asian-Americans in its admissions process. The trial led to an internal investigation at Harvard and the public release of admissions data indicating that Asian-Americans made up a much lower percentage of the class than they would have if admissions were based only on academic achievement. Some are concerned that the lawsuit may dismantle affirmative action practices that have ensured diversity at selective colleges. Listen to hear commentary from an Asian- American who attended an elite college and then debate: Should race be considered in college admissions?
Current Event February 1, 2019
A recent viral video showed a young child asking for help solving a math problem from Alexa, an automated virtual assistant that searches the internet. Some worry that with such ready access to technology, kids will miss out on important learning gained through independent problem solving. Others feel that kids should be able to get assistance from technology in the same ways adults do. Listen to multiple perspectives on the issue represented in this story and then debate: Should students ask Alexa for homework help?
Current Event January 10, 2019
The U.S. winners of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship are an increasingly diverse group. In addition to large proportions of women and first generation Americans or immigrants, this year’s Rhodes Scholars include the first recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Listen to this interview with Jin Park, who emigrated to the U.S. with his Korean parents at age 7, to hear what the scholarship award means to him and what he plans to do with the opportunity at to study at Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar.
ELA High School
Mark Twain was an American author who was born and raised in Missouri. Published in 1884, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn stirred controversy from the start. People felt the subject matter, specifically the portions of the plot that dealt with slavery, and the ethics and hypocrisy surrounding it, was unpleasant and in bad taste. Today, the book is still controversial, primarily because of the narrator’s and characters’ use of the “n” word. Listen to hear different perspectives on whether Huckleberry Finn, or any literature, should be censored.
Current Event December 20, 2018
While some migrant children travel to the United States with their families, others arrive on their own to be reunified with family members they have not seen in a long time. Such family reunifications may bring happiness, but they can present challenges as well. Listen to learn about the experience of two girls from El Salvador who came to live with their mother in Virginia after not seeing her for ten years.
Current Event December 19, 2018
Selective colleges and universities are using a new strategy to diversify their student bodies; they are recruiting transfer students from community colleges. There are many reasons that high-achieving students may choose to start at community colleges, but now many private four-year colleges are inviting those students to transfer after they have completed an associate’s degree. Listen to this story to hear from one such student about her dreams, her challenges, and her experiences as a transfer student at an elite school.
Current Event November 30, 2018
There has been increasing interest recently in teaching students about consent and sexual assault prevention as part of sex education in public schools. A series of workshops for teens aims to build awareness and change social norms in order to reduce sexual violence. Listen to hear students’ reflections on the workshops and then debate: Should schools teach sexual violence prevention?