Current Event August 23, 2019
Should some animals be considered “persons”? One lawyer is working to classify certain animals as “persons” so they can be protected under the law. Specifically, the lawyer wants to send three elephants from the “Big E” fair in New England to a sanctuary, where they will no longer have to give rides to customers. The fair owner disagrees and wants to keep the animals. Listen to hear the arguments on both sides of this complex animal rights issue and then debate: Should elephants be considered property?
Current Event August 20, 2019
In 1969, a police raid of a bar frequented by homosexuals called the Stonewall Inn, led to a riot. The bar’s patrons began protesting and reacting violently to discrimination and harassment by the police, who regularly targeted gay bars. About ten years later, the HIV/AIDS epidemic began. This deadly auto-immune disease disproportionately affected gay men, and therefore was essentially ignored by doctors and lawmakers, leading the gay community once again to turn to activism. Listen to learn how the Stonewall riots influenced the fight against AIDS.
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 14, 2019
The National Park Service has proposed new rules for protests on park property. The proposed rules would limit the amount of available protest space and require protesters to pay fees to hold a protest. Many people have expressed opposition to these rules, arguing that they would limit the freedom of speech that is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Listen to hear more about why the rules were proposed and why people are concerned about them, and then debate: Should public protests be restricted?
Current Event May 20, 2019
Since November, a group of French citizens known as the “yellow vests” have been protesting economic inequality across France. They are called “yellow vests” because they wear yellow safety vests to create roadblocks and draw attention to their protests. After the recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, conflict escalated around the yellow vest demonstrations in the streets of Paris. Listen to this story to learn more about why the yellow vest protestors are angry and how the country is responding to them.
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 3, 2019
A recent criminal justice reform bill that recently passed Congress has inspired hope in many people in the U.S. who are in prison. The bill ends automatic life sentences under the three-strikes penalty system, which led to significant growth in the prison population. Some are proposing that life sentences should be abolished altogether, particularly for juvenile defendants. Their arguments against life sentences include high costs, racial disparities in sentencing, and doubt about their effectiveness in deterring crime. Listen to hear more about life sentences in the U.S. and debate: Should life sentences be abolished?
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.
Science Middle School
Do you ever wonder what happens to the trash you throw away? Jenna Jambeck is an environmental engineer specializing in waste management, and she is on a crusade to raise public awareness of plastic waste and its impact on the environment. As she takes a reporter on a tour through a landfill, she explains what happens to different types of trash. Listen to this story to hear about how scientists and their research shape public policy and behavior, and what everyone can do about the problem of too much plastic.
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 28, 2019
It has been one year since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That shooting sparked a national movement led by survivors aimed at decreasing gun violence. The student activists who organized the March for Our Lives protests engaged people around the world in speaking out against gun violence and speaking up for policies to prevent it. Listen to this interview with a journalist who has written a book about the events and reflects on what the students have accomplished in the year since the shooting.
Current Event January 31, 2019
It has been six years since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Parents of some of the children killed that day have dedicated themselves to preventing such tragedies from happening again. The “See Something, Say Something” program, which is free to schools, trains students to anonymously report concerns about threatening behavior through a mobile app. Listen to this story to learn more about the program and how it may be impacting school safety.
Current Event January 30, 2019
A Memphis photographer famous for capturing iconic moments of the civil rights movement was recently revealed to be an FBI informant who secretly reported information about Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists to the government. As a recent book recounts, Ernest Withers, whose photography earned him an international reputation, was involved in civil rights activities in ways that even his family was not aware. Listen to this interview with the author of the book about Withers to learn more about his complicated story.
Current Event January 28, 2019
For the third year in a row, a Women’s March was recently held on the mall in Washington, DC and in other cities around the world. The first Women’s March was organized in response to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. This year, there was discord preceding the event, with some of the march’s leaders being accused of anti-Semitism. Many people, however, joined the marches in solidarity again, focusing on issues of equity and justice affecting women. Listen to this story to learn more about the event and the issues surrounding it.
Current Event January 27, 2019
A new group of Florida voters can now participate in the election process. Former felons in Florida were not allowed to vote for many years, but a recent amendment passed by a majority of Florida voters has reinstated this important right of citizenship. Listen to this story to hear more about what this change means for new voters and for the state of Florida.
Current Event January 22, 2019
Since 1994, Americans have observed a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr on the third Monday in January. Congress designated the holiday as a national day of service. One group of volunteers in Dallas, Texas spent the holiday working in a school garden. The garden is part of a school program that involves students’ families in cooking lessons, volunteering, and sharing in the harvest. Listen to this story to learn about how the program serves the community and hear reflections from volunteers about their experience serving on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Current Event January 18, 2019
Three women in their 40s recently entered a famous Hindu temple in India that for centuries has not allowed females between 10 and 50 years old because they are of childbearing age. The temple was targeted by Indian feminists, who have been protesting gender discrimination, and there has been a political backlash among Hindu nationalists. Listen to learn more about how this incident raises issues of both gender equity and religious freedom, and then debate: Should houses of worship decide who may enter?
Current Event January 17, 2019
A newly elected New Hampshire state legislator is only 19 years old. Cassandra Levesque entered politics at age 15 through her efforts to change child marriage laws in her state, which allowed 13-year-olds to marry. Working closely on the issue with a state representative led to deciding to run for office herself. Listen to this interview with Levesque to hear about her path to elected office and what she hopes to do now that she has become a state lawmaker.