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.
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?
Current Event November 16, 2018
Many teachers use food to reward students, but often these foods are unhealthy. Since childhood obesity is a growing problem nationally, there is concern that celebrating with junk food at school may be contributing to students’ poor health. Listen to hear why one California school district is discouraging the use of edible prizes in school and debate: Should teachers reward students with junk food?
Current Event October 22, 2018
Since the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February 2018, there has been significant national interest in the issue of gun violence in schools. The federal government surveyed all U.S. schools in order to find how exactly how many school shootings had occurred within a year. Investigative journalists followed up on the survey results, finding that the actual number of shootings was much lower than reported by the government. Listen to hear about the investigation and its implications.
Current Event October 3, 2018
There is so much flooding in Bangladesh that many students cannot travel safely to school. In order to ensure that students in isolated villages have access to education, a nonprofit organization has created floating schools that pick students up at their homes and hold class right on the boat. Listen to learn about how and why these special schools are helping students in Bangladesh.
ELA Middle School
The University of Maryland’s Incentive Awards Program celebrated its first group of graduates along with new award winners at a reception in the university president’s backyard. The program awards full scholarships to promising, at-risk, local students who have overcome major obstacles to succeed. The university president who established the program expressed great pride in the success of the program and its students, many of whom are the first in their families to earn a college degree. Listen to hear the stories of several program participants, challenges they faced, personal qualities that helped them succeed, and their aspirations for the future.
ELA High School
Every year, thousands of children in America are removed from their parents and placed in foster care because they are unsafe or neglected. Foster care is meant to be temporary, but sometimes kids can spend their entire childhoods in foster care and never be adopted or returned to their biological family. As well-intentioned as the system is, it often fails to deliver on its promises due to understaffing, overwhelming caseloads, and other issues. In this story, we hear from a young man who spent his childhood in foster care, and at the age of 21 is now leaving the system. Listen to hear how he faced this difficult challenge and why he thinks the foster care system failed him.
Current Event September 14, 2018
The design of schools and classroom spaces can have a big impact on students’ learning experiences. This story follows an architecture critic’s tour of a 90-year-old New York City school building and her commentary on the history of school design. Listen to learn about the relationship between classroom design and educational goals, and then debate whether schools should be redesigned for today’s students and teachers.
Current Event August 31, 2018
A group of students recently sued the state of Michigan for failing to teach them to read in their public schools. The students argue that literacy is a constitutional right. A federal judge dismissed their case because literacy is not explicitly mentioned in the United States Constitution. However, the case is being appealed, making the argument that students should have equal opportunities to learn, no matter which school they attend. Listen to an interview with one of the lawyers working on this case, and then debate whether students have a legal right to learn how to read.
Current Event August 30, 2018
President Trump has recently established new trade policies, causing conflict with some of America’s most important global trade partners, such as Canada, Mexico, and China. As children go back to school, one reporter wanted to find out how these changing trade relationships could affect the costs of common school supplies. Listen to learn how global trade wars influence the price of colored pencils, erasers, and backpacks.
ELA High School
Promposals--over-the-top performances of asking someone to prom--have become more and more common in recent years as teens seek to outdo one another in extravagantly asking their date to prom. While some people feel that promposals are just cute wastes of time, others feel differently. Listen to hear one student’s experience with promposals at her high school in Berkeley.