ELA High School
In 2016, a police officer shot and killed an African American man named Philando Castile at a traffic stop. Castile’s girlfriend published videos of the incident online, and it received national attention. Castile was a beloved school cafeteria worker who made a positive impact on the students he encountered. In honor of her son’s memory, Castile’s mother created the Philando Castile Relief Foundation. Listen to hear about how he connected with students and find out how the foundation is working to carry on Castile’s legacy of generosity toward the students he served.
Current Event September 12, 2019
Dr. Ayaz Virji moved to Dawson, Minnesota to help fill a need for doctors in rural America. At first, all was well, but during the 2016 election, the climate began to shift. As a Muslim, he no longer felt as welcome in Dawson, and he regularly faced discrimination. Virji decided to take action to help his community and others like it better understand and tolerate his faith and has since written a book about his experiences. Listen to hear Dr. Virji’s story and learn about his plans for the future.
Current Event September 5, 2019
Renewable energy sources like solar power can help protect the environment and lower people’s electricity bills. Unfortunately, not everyone is benefitting equally from alternative energy sources and the technologies that harness them. One African-American solar technology professional is trying to reverse this trend. Listen to learn how he is bringing renewable energy to communities of color in Nashville and why this goal is so important to him.
ELA High School
Margot had planned to vacation with her rich prep school friends, but instead, she’s spending the summer working at her parents’ supermarket in the Bronx. This is where Lilliam Rivera’s novel, “The Education of Margot Sanchez,” begins. It’s a tale of a teen who’s caught between two different worlds, trying to decide who she really is. Listen to hear the author of the book describe what she loves about writing “unlikable” characters like Margot and how her own experiences shaped the story.
Current Event August 7, 2019
One of the first female U.S. Navy pilots and the first woman air squadron commander recently died. Rosemary Mariner entered the U.S. Navy in the 1970s and rose through the ranks to become a great leader. She inspired many friends and colleagues with her strength of character, her intelligence, and her respectful and supportive attitude. Listen to learn about the effect Rosemary Mariner had on one of her fellow women aviators and on the world at large.
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 31, 2019
Caster Semenya, who has dominated in the 800-meter dash for the last few years has received difficult news about her career. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has decided that women like her with naturally high levels of testosterone cannot compete in certain track and field events unless they medically reduce those levels. Listen to the story to hear more about this case and debate: Should naturally high levels of testosterone disqualify female athletes?
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 9, 2019
Marsai Martin is Hollywood’s youngest executive producer. The 14-year-old pitched the idea for Little, a new comedy about a powerful executive who wakes up one morning in a child’s body, and she stars in the film as well. The teen actor got her acting breakthrough at age 10 on the hit sitcom Black-ish. She is not classically trained, but her colleagues say she is wise beyond her years. Listen to hear more about how Little came to be and how Marsai Martin became its executive producer.
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 2, 2019
Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, the first two NFL players to kneel on the field during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, have reached a settlement with the NFL. Kaepernick and Reid alleged that NFL teams were working together to keep them out of the league and filed grievances with the NFL. Listen to hear from a sports writer about what the players may have won in the settlement and what impact their actions have had.
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 15, 2019
What identifies a person as Native American? Is it tribal citizenship? Is it ancestry? If so, how much? The fact that Senator Elizabeth Warren registered as “American Indian” with the State Bar of Texas in 1986 has generated public discussion about who can call themselves Native American. The U.S. census indicates significant growth in the number of people identified as Native American over the last sixty years, estimated at 2% of Americans in 2010. Listen to this story to learn about the complexities associated with identifying as Native American, and then debate: Should tribal citizenship define Native American identity?
Current Event March 12, 2019
Freedmen’s communities were started by newly freed slaves following the Civil War. One such community was ‘Little Egypt’ in Dallas, Texas. The neighborhood got its name from a nearby church that is still open today, though in a different location. By the 1960s, many community residents had been bought out, and Little Egypt became part of Lake Highlands, a major suburb of Dallas. Listen to this story to hear what it was like to live in Little Egypt in years past and learn about how historians at Richland university uncovered the buried history of a southern freedmen’s community.
Current Event March 8, 2019
The motto of the United States of America, “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning “Out of Many, One,” represents an ideal as old as the nation. A recent study investigated how people currently feel about living in a pluralistic society, side-by-side with those who are different from them. The study found that large numbers of Americans reported having little contact with people of different religions, races, or political beliefs. Listen to a reporter involved in the study discuss the poll results and then debate: Is pluralism still an American ideal?
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 21, 2019
The state of Virginia has been steeped in controversy about past actions of key elected leaders, including calls for their resignations. Both the governor and the attorney general have revealed that they wore blackface when in costume years ago, saying that they did not realize how offensive it is. Many are not aware of the history of blackface, dating to the late 19th century, when white people would darken their faces and perform minstrel shows, which depicted African-Americans in derogatory, dehumanizing ways. Listen to this interview with a journalist who explains the history of blackface in America and why it remains controversial today.
Current Event February 19, 2019
The comic strip Baldo has been published in newspapers across the United States for 20 years. It was the first ever to feature a Latino family as the main characters. Hector Cantu, the author of Baldo was inspired to create the comic strip after noticing how few Latino characters were represented in comics. Baldo features fictional characters who deal with real life issues. Listen to this story to hear from the author of Baldo about the creation of this ground-breaking work.
Current Event February 15, 2019
A recent viral video of an encounter at the Lincoln Memorial featured students wearing hats bearing the political slogan “Make America Great Again” (often abbreviated MAGA), prompting a lot of discussion about what the hats signified about those wearing them. Views differ about what the MAGA hat represents and whether it has become a racist symbol. Listen to this interview with a fashion and culture critic who recently wrote about what she thinks the MAGA hat symbolizes and then debate: Can a hat be more than a fashion statement?