Ideas for Teachers

Oct 07, 2021

Research Links and Discussion Questions for October 2021 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: John Lewis Voting Rights Act

Congress.gov: H.R. 4, “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act”

Teaching Tolerance: “The Voting Rights Act”

USA Today: “House Approves Voting Rights Bill Named After John Lewis”

Sen. Leahy: “Voting Rights Advancement Act 2021”

Rep. Sewell: “Sewell Introduces H.R. 4 John Lewis Voting Rights Act” 

Vox: “What Would the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act Actually Do?”


Issue 2: For the People Act

Congress.gov: H.R.1 – “For the People Act of 2021"

Conservative Action Project: “Conservatives Oppose H.R.1, Fantasy of the Left”

Brennan Center for Justice: “Congress Must Pass the ‘For the People Act’”

Roll Call: “10 Things You Might Not Know about HR 1"

Heritage Foundation: “H.R.1 Is a Threat to American Democracy"

Fox News: “H.R.1 Imperils Free and Fair Elections, Here Are the Worst Parts” 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: John Lewis Voting Rights Act

  1. Is voting a right or a privilege?
  2. What barriers to voting do Americans face and why does it matter?
  3. Under the Voting Rights Act, which states had to have preclearance to change their laws? Who determined which states would need preclearance? How?
  4. How have disenfranchisement and voter suppression shaped the history of voting rights in the United States?
  5. If the VRA were still in place today, what—if anything—do you think might be different about the 2020 election?

Issue 2: For the People Act

  1. Do you support or oppose H.R.1? If you were speaking to a person who disagreed, what is the strongest argument in support of your position?
  2. Does H.R.1 represent government overreach? Why or why not?
  3. Are the bill’s ethics provisions necessary? Why or why not?
  4.  Are H.R.1’s improvements in access to elections, through ease of registration, early voting, and more accurate voter rolls, necessary? Why or why not?
  5. Do the disclosure provisions around political ads and political spending represent a threat to free speech, or a needed opening to identify who is influencing our democracy?

Aug 23, 2021

September 2021 Research Links and Discussion Questions

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Cuba Embargo

Congress.gov: S.1694 "Freedom to Export to Cuba Act of 2021"           
United Nations: “UN General Assembly calls for US to end Cuba embargo"      
U.S. Department of State: “Cuba Sanctions”                       
Secretary Blinken: “Sanctioning Cuban Officials in Response to Violence”       
BBC: “Cuba Tightens Control of Internet After Protests”               
keydifferences.com: “Differences Between Capitalism and Communism”       
       

Issue 2: Puerto Rico Statehood

H.R.1522 Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act                   
Puerto Rico 51st Site: “Puerto Rico – Destined for Statehood”           
Senate Republican Party Committee: “Practical Problems with Statehood”      
Harvard Politics: “The Meaningless Vote for Puerto Rican Statehood”      
ABC News: “Puerto Rico Votes in Favor of Statehood. What Does It Mean?"   
University of Connecticut: “Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives”           


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS


Issue 1: Cuba Embargo

  1. What are the effects of the U.S. embargo on the people of Cuba? 
  2. Will easing the trade ban against Cuba and opening its economy to outside investment and tourism help the country? Why or why not?
  3. Capitalism is based on the principle of individual rights, whereas communism is based on the principle of community rights. Which system do you think is best? Why?
  4. Under capitalism, the government is not as involved in running people’s lives. Under communism, there is a high level of government intervention. Which philosophy is better—capitalism or communism? Why?
  5. What might be some of the potential pitfalls to lifting sanctions and re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba?  
        

Issue 2: Puerto Rico Statehood

1.    Should Puerto Rico be granted statehood? Why or why not?
2.    Why should the United States want Puerto Rico as a state?
3.    What other policies could mitigate the problems seen by proponents of statehood? Explain your answer(s).
4.    Should any or all of the other U.S. territories be granted statehood? Why or why not?
5.    What other measures might be considered, if any, to resolve the lack of representation in Congress, citizenship, and other concerns?

Apr 19, 2021

Research Links and Discussion Questions for May 2021 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Vaccine Passports

WhiteHouse.gov: “Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team”    
NPR.org: “Florida Governor DeSantis Rejects Vaccine Passports”            
Bloomberg.com: “A Vaccine Passport Is the New Golden Ticket”            
BuzzFeedNews.com: “You Probably Already Have a Vaccine Passport”        
ABCNews.go.com: “Texas Governor Bans Mandated Vaccine Passports”      
CNN.com: “What Are Vaccine Passports and How Do They Work?”          
        
Issue 2: Dream Act
Congress.gov: H.R.6 American Dream and Promise Act                
WhiteHouse.gov: “Statement by President Biden American Dream Promise Act”    
The Heritage Foundation: “The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021”  
ImmigrationForum.org: “Bill Summary: American Dream and Promise Act”        
TheHill.com: “Tim Cook Calls on Congress to Pass American Dream Promise Act”    
BusinessInsider.com: “House Passes the American Dream and Promise Act”    


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Vaccine Passports

  1. Do you support or oppose vaccine passports? If you were speaking to a person who disagreed, what is the strongest argument in support of your position?
  2. Does requiring a vaccine passport represent government overreach? Why or why not?
  3. Privacy advocates warn that vaccine passports are intrusive. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  4. What civil liberties do vaccine passports potentially threaten?
  5. What are some of the reasons Republican governors oppose vaccine passports? Do you agree or disagree with them? Why?

    
Issue 2: Dream Act

  1. What do you think the U.S. government should do to address the legal status of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children?
  2. Who are the Dreamers? What requirements must they meet to be eligible for citizenship under the Dream Act?
  3. What is the most compelling argument to pass the Dream Act? What is the most convincing reason not to?
  4. Should the president have the power to enact a program like DACA if Congress refuses to pass the Dream Act? Why or why not?
  5. What solutions might students offer legislators when considering the futures of young people brought to the country as children?

Mar 18, 2021

Research Links and Discussion Questions for April 2021 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: H.R.1/Election Reform
Congress.gov: H.R.1 – “For the People Act of 2021”                   
Conservative Action Project: “Conservatives Oppose H.R.1, Fantasy of the Left”   
Brennan Center for Justice: “Congress Must Pass the ‘For the People Act’”       
Roll Call: “10 Things You Might Not Know about HR 1”               
Heritage Foundation: “H.R.1 Is a Threat to American Democracy”           
Fox News: “H.R.1 Imperils Free and Fair Elections, Here Are the Worst Parts”   
            
Issue 2: D.C. Statehood
Congress.gov: H.R.51 – “Washington, D.C. Admission Act”               
Cato Institute: “D.C. Statehood Is a Fool’s Errand”                  
League of Women Voters: “D.C. Statehood Tool Kit”                   
Heritage Foundation: “D.C. Statehood Bill Is Constitutionally Dubious, Flawed”   
Rep. Norton: “The Fight for D.C. Statehood”                      
51 for 51 Website: “Issues”                              

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: H.R.1/Election Reform

  1. Do you support or oppose H.R.1? If you were speaking to a person who disagreed, what is the strongest argument in support of your position?
  2. Does H.R.1 represent government overreach? Why or why not?
  3. Are the bill’s ethics provisions necessary? Why or why not?
  4. Are H.R.1’s improvements in access to elections, through ease of registration, early voting, and more accurate voter rolls, necessary? Why or why not?
  5. Do the disclosure provisions around political ads and political spending represent a threat to free speech, or a needed opening to identify who is influencing our democracy?

Issue 2: D.C. Statehood

  1. What are some of the reasons that Republicans oppose making D.C. a state?
  2. Why do you think the framers of the U.S. Constitution decided that the nation’s capital should not be located in any state?
  3. What rights are people in D.C. denied that other Americans enjoy?
  4. Why did it require a constitutional amendment to give people in D.C. the right to vote for President?
  5. Democrats are for D.C. statehood, but Republicans are against it. What might account for such differing views on this issue?

Feb 16, 2021

Research Links and Discussion Questions for March 2021 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Minimum Wage
Congress.gov: H.R.603, “Raise the Wage Act of 2021”                http://bit.ly/3rJJwgC
U.S. Department of Labor: “Minimum Wage”                        http://bit.ly/3rVLUkP
Congressional Budget Office: “Budgetary Effects Raise the Wage Act of 2021”    https://bit.ly/371TmCA
National Congress of State Legislatures: “State Minimum Wages”            http://bit.ly/3p6PVAN
UC Berkeley Labor Center: “The Public Cost of a Low Federal Minimum Wage”    http://bit.ly/2MOQ1QK
raisetheminimumwage.com: “Raise the Minimum Wage News”            http://bit.ly/3pfBdaF
            
Issue 2: Keystone XL Pipeline
White House: “Executive Order Protecting Public Health and Environment”    http://bit.ly/3qfqTAX
National Resources Defense Council: “What is Keystone Pipeline?”        http://on.nrdc.org/3acrOg6
TC Energy: “Keystone XL” (from the company that owns the pipeline)        https://www.keystonexl.com
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute: “Background Keystone XL”    http://bit.ly/2ZaixOY
The Guardian: “Biden Can Be Our Climate President by Ending Pipeline Projects”    http://bit.ly/3tMnGLt
Fox News: “Manchin Pens Letter Asking Biden to Reverse Pipeline Termination”    http://fxn.ws/3tHtjdI


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Minimum Wage

  1. Do you support or oppose raising the minimum wage? If you were speaking to a person who disagreed, what is the strongest argument in support of your position?
  2. If you were a business owner, would you want the minimum wage to increase? Why or why not?
  3. What are two arguments against raising the minimum wage? What are two arguments in favor of raising the minimum wage?
  4. How is a minimum-wage worker’s life changed as a result of lifting the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour?
  5. Places like New York, Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle have raised the minimum wage in their cities. Why do you think these places have raised their municipal minimum wage?

    
Issue 2: Keystone XL Pipeline

  1. What are some potential benefits of the pipeline? How about potential drawbacks?
  2. In what ways does the decision we make today about the Keystone XL Pipeline affect people in the future?
  3. The Biden administration cancelled construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, but the Trump administration supported it. What might account for such differing views on construction of the pipeline?
  4. What are some of the reasons that environmentalists oppose the Keystone XL pipeline expansion?
  5. Do you think that addressing climate change is an issue that should be prioritized over creating jobs? Are these options mutually exclusive?

 

Jan 18, 2021

Research Links and Discussion Questions for February 2021 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Paris Climate Agreement
White House: “Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord” (6/2017)    
Biden Campaign Site: “Biden’s Clean Energy Plan”                        
United Nations Foundation: “7 Reasons U.S. Needs the Paris Climate Agreement”        
Climate Action Tracker                                    
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: “Paris Climate Agreement Q&A”            
Fox News OpEd: “Biden wants to rejoin the Paris Accord. Why? It puts America last.”  
            
Issue 2: Dream Act
Congress.gov: “H.R. 6: American Dream and Promise Act of 2019”                
Daily Caller OpEd: “Why I Oppose the Dream Act”                        
Chicago Tribune Column: “Dreamers are still waiting for their nightmare to end”      
Press Democrat OpEd: “A New Year’s Resolution for Congress – Pass the Dream Act”  
Business Standard: “Google Backs Biden’s Immigration Efforts”                
Between the Lines OpEd: “Immigration Reform Under Biden to Face Challenges”        


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Paris Climate Agreement

  1. What is your position on climate change? Do you think it is caused by human activity or not? Outline your arguments and defend your position.
  2. Compare and contrast the pro/con congressional quotes on p. 3 of the newsletter. Whose opinion do you agree with the most, and why?
  3. Do you support the U.S. rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement? Why or why not?
  4. According to studies, disputes over the key scientific facts of global warming are more prevalent in the U.S. than globally. Why do you think this is so?
  5. Read the Fox News OpEd (link above). Do you agree or disagree with the assertions made in the article? Why?

    
Issue 2: Dream Act

  1. What do you think the U.S. government should do to address the legal status of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children?
  2. Who are the Dreamers? What requirements must they meet to be eligible for citizenship under the Dream Act?
  3. What is the most compelling argument to pass the Dream Act? What is the most convincing reason not to?
  4. Should the president have the power to enact a program like DACA if Congress refuses to pass the Dream Act? Why or why not?
  5. What solutions might students offer legislators when considering the futures of young people brought to the country as children?

Nov 16, 2020

Research Links and Discussion Questions for December 2020 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Social Media Bias
White House: “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship”          
The Hill OpEd: “Censoring Biden Story, How Social Media Becomes State Media”   
Pew Research: “Most Americans Think Social Media Sites Censor Political Views”   
CBS News: “Censorship on social media? It’s not what you think”           
Cato Institute: “Why the Government Should Not Regulate Social Media”       
The Hill: “FCC to Move Forward with Executive Order on Tech’s Liability”       
            
Issue 2: Universal Basic Income
Stanford University: “What is Universal Basic Income?”               
USA Today: “California city to give free cash in guaranteed income program”   
Andrew Yang: “The Freedom Dividend, Defined”                   
Pew Research: “More Americans Oppose than Favor Universal Basic Income”   
GiveDirectly.org: “Universal Basic Income Study”                   
Pew Charitable Trusts: “Momentum for Basic Income Builds as Pandemic Drags”   


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Social Media Bias

  1. Read President Donald Trump’s “Executive on Preventing Online Censorship” (link above). Do you feel his action was a good solution to social media bias? Why or why not?
  2. In your own experience with social media, have you encountered social media bias? If so, what do you think is a good solution to this problem?
  3. How does the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment protect free speech in the U.S.?
  4. Do you believe Section 230’s protections for big tech companies need to be revised? How would you revise them?
  5. Do you believe Twitter’s and Facebook’s response to the New York Post article on Hunter Biden was justified? Why or why not?

    
Issue 2: Universal Basic Income

  1. Should Universal Basic Income replace existing welfare programs? Why or why not?
  2. If Universal Basic Income became a reality, how much should it be per month?
  3. Some people believe that giving everyone a UBI would simply lead to higher prices (e.g., inflation), defeating the entire point of it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  4. Should UBI really go to everyone, or would it be better to target it to those who need it most? Why or why not?
  5. Would implementing a UBI program de-incentivize people to work? Why or why not?

 

Oct 19, 2020

Research Links and Discussion Questions for November 2020 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: TikTok
WhiteHouse.gov: “Executive Order Addressing Threat Posed by TikTok”       
Commerce.gov: “Commerce Department Prohibits WeChat TikTok Transactions”   
Sen. Ted Cruz: “Deal that Fails to Address National Security Concerns”       
BusinessInsider.com: “TikTok Executive Says Company Has Faced Criticism”   
Fox News: “Trump’s TikTok Download Ban Is Blocked by Judge”           
cnn.com: “Trump Says He Will Ban TikTok”                       
            

Issue 2: Student Loan Debt
Congress.gov: S.2235 “Student Loan Debt Relief Act of 2019”          
finaid.org: “Student Loan Debt Clock”                       
"Warren, Clyburn Introduce Legislation to Cancel Student Loan Debt"        
Student Loan Debt Relief Act Fact Sheet                      
Forbes.com: “Will Trump Cancel Student Loans?”                  
Fox News: “Dems Propose Suspending Student Loan Payments Amid COVID”   


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: TikTok

  1. Read President Donald Trump’s “Executive Order Addressing Threat Posed by TikTok” (link above). Do you feel his action was justified? Why or why not?
  2. Do you feel TikTok poses a national security threat to Americans’ private data? Why or why not?
  3. What do you think of TikTok? Write an honest review. How does your point of view as a teenager influence your interpretation of it?
  4. What should be the federal government’s role in regulating social media? In this case, was the President overstepping his authority?
  5. Read TikTok’s statement on p. 3 of the newsletter. Do you feel satisfied with their assurances? Why or why not?

Issue 2: Student Loan Debt

  1. How do you think college debt is affecting our economy and community?
  2. What is an acceptable and reasonable amount of debt for college education?
  3. Even if students could get a quality, debt-free undergraduate education, what are the best ways to keep institutions at the graduate level, or private schools, from loading up students with unmanageable debt?
  4. Is it important to have a significant number of young people attend college, including young people that are going to require loans to afford college?
  5. How have the opportunities in the job market for someone with a degree changed in the last 10 to 50 years?

 

Sep 17, 2020

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for October 2020 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Electoral College
The Federalist Papers: No. 68 by Alexander Hamilton                  
FairVote.org: “The Electoral College: How It Works Today”                   
House.gov: “Electoral College Fast Facts”                           
Heritage Foundation: “The Electoral College: Enlightened Democracy                   
League of Women Voters: “Who Will Elect the President? Electoral College System”     
NewYorker.com: “The Case for Dumping the Electoral College”              
        
Issue 2: 2020 Election
Vote.org: One-Stop Voting Information Site                          
Pew Research: “Election 2020”                                
Ballotpedia.org: “Presidential Election 2020”                       
270towin.com: “2020 Presidential Election Interactive Map”              
ProCon.org: “2020 Presidential Election Site”                       
NYT: “2020 Presidential Election Calendar”                               


CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Electoral College

  1. Read Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist No. 68 (link above). Has the Electoral College system worked out the way Hamilton originally envisioned it?
  2. Is the Electoral College a good way of ensuring each voter is represented equally? If not, do you think it is important that each vote person’s vote count equally?
  3. Do you think the founders’ reasons for establishing the Electoral College system are still relevant today? Why or why not?
  4. What is the difference between a democracy and a republic? Why did the Founders dislike democratic systems? Why did they believe republican forms of government were superior?
  5. Do you think the Electoral College still functions well in the present day? Why or why not?

    
Issue 2: 2020 Election

  1. What is the relationship between voting and democracy?
  2. What information is essential for voters to make an informed decision about candidates?
  3. Why does campaign spending matter? What rules should exist, if any, about the claims and accusations of political campaigns?
  4. After reading the candidates’ positions on the issues, which issues are the most important to you and why?
  5. In your opinion, what are the qualities of a great leader in any political context?

 

Aug 06, 2020

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for September 2020 Topics

Research Links

Issue 1: Confederate Statues
Congress.gov: H.R.7573 – Confederate Statues Bill                       
Govtrack.us: H.R.7573 – Confederate Statues Bill                      
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) Remarks H.R. 7573 Press Conference   
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) Statement on Confederate Statue Bill          
Harvard Gazette: “Must we allow symbols of racism on public land?”           
The Federalist: “Why We Should Keep Confederate Monuments Right Where They Are”  
            
Issue 2: DACA Dreamers
SupremeCourt.gov: Supreme Court’s June 18, 2020 Ruling on DACA Decision       
NILC.org: “Supreme Court Overturns Trump Administration’s Termination of DACA”   
Worcester.edu: “DACA Infographics & Resources for Educators”               
Fox News: “Trump Administration Halts New DACA Applications”               
USA Today: “Trump to Extend DACA Protections, Reject New Applications”       
ProCon.org: “Are DACA and the DREAM Act Good for America?”               

Critical-Thinking Questions

Issue 1: Confederate Statues

  1. What role do statues or monuments play in society?
  2. Should confederate statues be taken down? Why or why not? Justify and defend your answer with examples and reasoning.
  3. If confederate statues were all removed, would that address racial inequality in the United States?
  4. Regardless of whether these statues are removed or remain, what sort of statues, memorials, or other art would you like to see in public spaces? Explain your answers.
  5. Do the statues represent or misrepresent the country’s history? How so?

    
Issue 2: DACA Dreamers

  1. What do you think Congress should do to address the legal status of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children?
  2. What is the most convincing argument to continue with DACA? What is the most compelling reason to end a program like DACA?
  3. Should the president have the power to enact a program like DACA if Congress refuses to pass legislation on the issue? Why or why not?
  4. How might ending the DACA program affect communities around the country?
  5.  What solutions might students offer legislators when considering the futures of young people brought to the country as children?
  6. How does the Constitution address immigration? Is there a way to clarify Constitutional treatment of immigration?

Apr 17, 2020

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for May 2020 Topics

Research Links

Surveillance Law (H.R.6172)

Congress.gov: “H.R.6172 – USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020”

Subscriptlaw.com: “Overview of Government Surveillance Laws”

Lawfare Blog: “What’s in H.R. 6172, the House’s Compromise FISA Reform Bill?”

The Hill: “Trump, Privacy Hawks Upend Surveillance Brawl”

Reason.com: “A Compromise Bill on Domestic Surveillance Reform”

Common Dreams: “Rights Groups Warn Against Handing Trump Terrifying Spy Powers”

Americans for Prosperity: “AFP Urges Senators to Vote Against FISA Reauthorization”
 

Equal Rights Amendment

Congress.gov: S.J.Res.6 “Joint resolution removing the deadline for ratification of ERA”

Congress.gov: H.J.Res.79 “Removing the deadline for the ratification of the ERA”

equalrightsamendment.org: “Why We Need the Equal Rights Amendment”

Trump Administration Department of Justice Opinion on ERA

statusofwomendata.org: “The Economic Status of Women in the States”

Washington Post: “It’s time to finally pass the Equal Rights Amendment”

Critical-Thinking Questions

Surveillance Law

  1. Read the text of “H.R.6172 – USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020” (link above). Are the reforms in this bill strong enough? Why or why not?
  2. One of the reforms in H.R.6172 is the guarantee that House Intelligence Committee members will have access to all FISA applications. Should Congress require additional transparency mechanisms? Why or why not?
  3. Currently, federal government agencies can issue national security letters on Americans without a warrant and without informing them. Which constitutional amendment(s) do these practices conflict with?
  4. The argument can be made that compromising our civil liberties in any way means the terrorists have won. Agree or disagree? Explain your reasoning.
  5. Review the surveillance laws currently in place (link above) that allow the federal government to spy on Americans. Does the government have too much power? Not enough?

 
Issue 2: Equal Rights Amendment

  1. Visit https://statusofwomendata.org/, click on the “find your state” arrow and select your state to see how it’s graded for women’s rights. How does your state compare?
  2. Visit the “Why We Need the Equal Rights Amendment” link above. Do you agree with the ar-guments for the ERA? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think there are other groups whose rights should be guaranteed by the U.S. government? If so, what are they?
  4. Are you surprised that the Constitution does not already guarantee rights to women? Why or why not?
  5. Read the “pro” and “con” quotes for the ERA on p. 3 of the newsletter. Decide whose opinion you agree with most and why?   

Mar 17, 2020

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for April 2020

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Minimum Wage
Congress.gov: “H.R.582 – Raise the Wage Act”                   
Fox Business: “Republicans Slam Democrats’ $15 Minimum Wage Bill”       
Pew Research: “Minimum Wage Action Is in Cities, States, not Congress”      
Yahoo Finance: “CBO: Raising Minimum Wage Has a Downside”           
Economic Policy Institute: “Why America Needs a $15 Minimum Wage”      
Vox: “$15 Federal Minimum Wage Won’t Cost Americans Jobs, New Study Says”   
Department of Labor: “State Minimum Wage Laws”                   
            
Issue 2: War Powers
White House: “Statement of Administration Policy on S.J.Res.68”           
Congress.gov: “S.J.Res.68 Joint Resolution on Iran War Powers”           
Library of Congress: “War Powers”                           
CNN: “House Passes Iran War Powers Resolution Opposed by Trump”        
House.gov: “Power to Declare War” (History)                   
NPR: “War Powers Resolution On Iran Is Latest Attempt By Congress”      

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Minimum Wage

  1. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor link above to see if your state has a minimum wage law. How does your state compare to other states? Do you think your state’s minimum wage should be higher or lower than it is? Why?
  2. How does the federal minimum wage issue relate to gender and race?
  3. Do you support or oppose raising the federal minimum wage? Why?
  4. If Congress raised the federal minimum wage, would it ultimately help or hurt workers? Why?
  5. Read the text of “H.R.582 – Raise the Wage Act” (link above). Do you agree or disagree that this bill would be good for the U.S.? Why?

    
Issue 2: War Powers

  1. How has the United States’ history of interventions and conflicts with Iran led to the recent situation with Iran?
  2. What exactly are the war powers of the U.S. president, and how should they be used with regard to Iran?
  3. How do you think military action or war policy should be decided when conflicts arise?
  4. How has Congress responded to presidential war powers since 9/11? Why do you think Congress hasn’t taken more of a role in war powers?
  5. Read the “pro” and “con” quotes for war powers on p. 3 of the newsletter. Decide whose opinion you agree with most and why?

 

Feb 17, 2020

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for March 2020 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Refugee Resettlements
Congress.gov: “H.R.5210 Refugee Protection Act of 2019”                  
Senate.gov: “Leahy, Lofgren, Harris Lead Bicameral Refugee Protection Act of 2019”   
WhiteHouse.gov: “Executive Order on Enhancing State Refugee Resettlements”       
Axios.com: “Trump lowering the number of refugees permitted into U.S. to 18,000”  
CNN.com: “Republican Governors Sign on to Resettle Refugees in their States”              
PBS.org: “Judge Halts Trump’s Order Allowing States to Block Refugees”             
          
Issue 2: Fuel Standards
Congress.gov: “S.Res.316 Senate Resolution Text”                      
Congress.gov: “H.R.978 Clean and Efficient Cars Act of 2019 Text”              
EPA.gov: “Trump Administration Announces One National Program Rule”           
Yale.edu: “Despite Industry Pleas, White House Halts Progress on Fuel Economy”       
TheVerge.com: “Trump moves to Kill California’s Clean Car Standards”            
House.gov: “House Committee on Energy and Commerce Memorandum”          


CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Refugee Resettlements

  1. Should refugees have to go back to their country once it is safe or should they have the option of staying and requesting residency or citizenship in their new country? What about children born to refugees in that country?
  2. Should the U.S. accept more refugees than 18,000 a year, the limit set by President Trump? Why or why not?
  3. If a country is struggling to provide for its own citizens, should it take in refugees? What reasons are there for accepting or not accepting refugees?
  4. Most refugees live in developing countries close to the countries they come from. Why do you think the richer countries in the world do not host more refugees?
  5. What’s the difference between a refugee, a migrant and an internally displaced person?

    
Issue 2: Fuel Standards

  1. Do you think it’s a good idea for car and truck fuel-efficiency standards to get increasingly stricter through the years? Why or why not?
  2. One of the arguments for keeping fuel standards low is a bigger car (like an SUV) requires more gas and is thus safer than smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Should we prioritize our safety over climate change? Why or why not?
  3. Read the “pro” and “con” quotes for fuel-efficiency standards on p. 3 of the newsletter. Decide whose opinion you agree with most and why?
  4. On an individual level, what can you do to limit your “carbon contribution” to the environment?
  5. Does the responsibility to slow down or stop climate change belong to humans? Why or why not?

Jan 17, 2020

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for February 2020 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Longer School Day (Family Friendly Schools Act)
Congress.gov: S.2784 “Family Friendly Schools Act”                      
“Sen. Kamala Harris Introduces Family Friendly Schools Act”               
“Statements of Support for the Family Friendly Schools Act”               
Lone Conservative Teen OpEd: “Family Friendly Schools Act Would Be a Disaster”   
The Hill: “Kamala Harris’s Family Friendly Schools Act Is Far from Family Friendly”   
National Center for Education Statistics: “School Day Length by State”           
            
Issue 2: Balanced Budget Amendment
Congress.gov: H.J.Res.5                                  
Congress.gov: H.J.Res.22                                   
Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT) OpEd: “Congress’ Resolution Should Be to Fix National Debt”   
Investopedia: “What Is a Balanced Budget?”                           
Peter G. Peterson Foundation: “Balanced Budget Amendment Pros and Cons”       
Balanced Politics: “Yes/No Arguments on Balanced Budget Amendment”           
Thoughtco: “The Balanced Budget Amendment Debate”                  


CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Longer School Day (Family Friendly Schools Act)
1.    Read the text of S.2784 “Family Friendly Schools Act” (link above). Is this bill the right solution to syncing workday and school-day schedules? Why or why not?
2.    If Congress passed the S.2784 legislation, what might be the best- and worst-case outcomes, in your assessment?
3.    Using the NCES “School Day Length by State” link, determine your state’s average school day length. How might your life change if your school day was longer?
4.    Is the issue of mismatched work/school schedules a problem that needs to be fixed? Why or why not?
5.    Read the “pro” and “con” quotes on p. 3 of the newsletter. Decide whose opinion you agree with most and why?

Issue 2: Balanced Budget Amendment
1.    Is a balanced budget amendment necessary for Congress to not spend more than it receives in revenue? Why or why not?
2.    What impact might a balanced budget amendment have on fiscal policy during a recession?
3.    Compare the “pro” and “con” arguments of a balanced budged amendment (links above). In your analysis, which arguments are the most germane and why?
4.    How would a balanced budget amendment affect the balance of power between the president and Congress? Between the federal courts and Congress?
5.    Would a balanced budget amendment create incentives for policymakers to use dubious accounting and budget tricks to overcome the difficulties of meeting the budgetary requirements? How might this be prevented?

 

Nov 19, 2019

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for December 2019 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Cryptocurrency
Congress.gov: H.R.4813 “Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act”               
Facebook Newsroom: Calibra Wallet/Libra Currency Press Release          
cryptocurrencyfacts.com: “Cryptocurrency Pros and Cons”                  
finextra.com: “Should Private Companies Be Able to Create Currency?”           
House.gov: “Facebook CEO to Testify Before Financial Services Committee”       
techcrunch.com: “Lowlighhs from Zuckerberg’s Libra Testimony in Congress”      
                
Issue 2: Subminimum Wage
Department of Labor: “Employment of Workers with Disabilities at Subminimum Wage”   
National Conference of State Legislatures: “States Weigh Options - Subminimum Wage”   
Congress.gov: “H.R.873 - Transformation to Competitive Employment Act”       
Disability Scoop: “Lawmakers Call for End of Subminimum Wage”               
Forbes: “The Truth of Disability Employment That No One Talks About”          
shrm.org: “Minimum-Wage Bill Ends Low Pay for Workers with Disabilities”       
American Community Survey Disability Statistics, National and by State           

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Cryptocurrency

  1. Read the text of Congress.gov: H.R.4813 “Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act” (link above). Is this bill the right solution? What alternative solution(s) might you propose?
  2. Should private companies like Facebook be allowed to create their own cryptocurrency? Why or why not?
  3. Compare and contrast the pro and con arguments in the “Cryptocurrency Pros and Cons” (link above). Do you think the benefits of cryptocurrency outweigh the drawbacks? Why or why not?
  4. What is your opinion of Facebook’s intention to headquarter the Libra Association in Switzerland? Do you think it should be headquartered in the U.S.? Why or why not?
  5. Read the cryptocurrency “pro” and “con” quotes on p. 3. Whose opinion to you agree with more and why?

Issue 2: Subminimum Wage

  1. Do you think the current law that allows disabled people to be paid a wage below the national minimum wage is fair? Why or why not?
  2. Some employers with 14(c) certificates separate disabled workers from other workers. How might this practice affect disabled workers psychologically?
  3. Why do you think that people with disabilities are the only population that can be paid less than the minimum wage and it’s seen as acceptable?
  4. Do you think the decision on whether to allow employers to pay a subminimum wage to disabled workers should be made at the federal or state level? Why?
  5. Read the text of the bill H.R.873 or “Transformation to Competitive Employment Act.” Do you feel this is the best solution to resolve the subminimum wage issue? Why or why not?

Oct 18, 2019

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for November 2019 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: E-Cigarettes
CDC: “Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping”       
H.R.4425 “Quell Underage Inhaling of Toxic Substances Act of 2019” or QUITS Act  
ProCon.org: “Is Vaping with E-Cigarettes Safe?”                       
The Hill: “Trump Takes Heat from Right Over Vaping Crackdown”               
The Verge: “Everything You Need to Know About the Vaping Health Crisis”       
FTC: “Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report for 2017”              
                
Issue 2: Vaccines
S.1619 VACCINES Act                                  
ProCon.org: “State Vaccination Exemptions: Medical, Religious and Philosophical”   
CDC: “Global Measles Outbreaks”                               
Medscape: “Close Call – US Can Still Officially Claim Measles Eliminated”           
Reuters: “Alarming Upsurge in Measles Has Devastating Impact, WHO Warns”              
Vaccines.gov: “Vaccine Safety”                               


CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: E-Cigarettes

  1. Read the text of H.R.4425 or the “Quell Underage Inhaling of Toxic Substances Act of 2019” (link above). Is this bill the right solution to the problem of underage vaping? What alternative solution(s) might you propose?
  2. Do you agree that banning flavored e-cigarettes is the right thing to do? Why or why not?
  3. Compare and contrast the pro and con arguments in ProCon.org’s “Is Vaping with E-Cigarettes Safe?” article (link above). Where do you stand on vaping and why?
  4. How important is the issue of underage vaping in the U.S.? Do you think this country is doing enough to address the problem? Why or why not?
  5. Some conservative groups are critical of President Trump’s plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes. They say this is an overreach that will violate free-market principles. Do you agree or disagree with this criticism? Why?

Issue 2: Vaccines

  1. Currently, mandatory vaccine laws are left to the states to decide. Should there be a national law for vaccines? Why or why not?
  2. Check ProCon.org’s “State Vaccination Exemptions” page (link above) to see which kind of vaccine exemptions are allowed in your state. Do you agree or disagree with your state's exemptions? Why?
  3. Which is more important for the issue of vaccines—individual rights or collective rights? Why?
  4. What are the risks associated with vaccines and do those risks outweigh the benefits? Why or why not?
  5. If vaccines are not mandatory, will the public health be endangered? Why or why not?

Sep 18, 2019

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for October 2019 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Prescription Prices
S.2387 “We Protect American Investment in Drugs Act"                  
Vox: “The Bipartisan Senate Bill Aimed at Baking Big Pharma Lower Drug Prices”      
Study: “Contribution of NIH Funding to New Drug Approvals 2010–2016”          
The Hill Op-Ed: “Republicans Face Critical Test of Integrity on Drug Price Controls”   
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Endorsement of We PAID Act       
FactCheck.org: “Pinning Down Prescription Drug Prices”                   
                
Issue 2: Alaska Drilling
H.R.1146 “Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act”              
NRDC: “U.S. House Passes Legislation to Protect Arctic Refuge in Historic Vote”       
Courthouse News: “House Approves Ban on Oil Drilling in Arctic Refuge”           
Alaska Public Media: “Democrats on U.S. House Committee Move Anti-Drilling Bill”   
Natural Gas Intelligence: “House Passes Bills to Block Trump Offshore Drilling Plans"   


CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Prescription Prices

  1. Read the text of S.2387 or the “We Protect American Investment in Drugs Act” (link above). Is this bill the right solution to the problem of high prescription prices? What alternative solution(s) might you propose?
  2. Read the AARP endorsement of S.2387 (link above). How important is the issue of high prescription drug prices in the U.S.? Do you think this country is doing enough to address the problem? Why or why not?
  3. Read The Hill Op-Ed (link above), which offers a counter viewpoint to proponents of S.2387. How does the writer’s opinion agree or disagree with your own?
  4. Do you agree that price controls on prescription drugs are ultimately bad for American consumers? Why or why not?
  5. Compare and contrast the pro and con arguments on p. 3 of the newsletter. Where do you stand and why?

Issue 2: Alaksa Drilling
1.    Should the United States suspend oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic Refuge? Why or why not?
2.    Read the text of H.R.1146 “Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act” (link above). Is this bill the best solution to the problem of oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge? What other solution(s) might you propose?
3.    Does the money that can be made from drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic Refuge outweigh the importance of the environment? Why or why not?
4.    What alternatives (such as renewable energy, etc.) might you propose to the need for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge?
5.    Do you think the decision on whether to allow oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge should be made at the federal or state level? Why?

Aug 16, 2019

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for September 2019 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Debt Ceiling
Congress.gov: H.R.3877 “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019”                  
Congressional Budget Office: “The 2019 Long-Term Budget Outlook”          
Peter G. Peterson Foundation: “Debt Ceiling Update: What’s at Stake”          
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “Everything to Know About Debt Ceiling”  
Bipartisan Policy Center: “The Debt Limit—What You Need to Know”           
Investopedia.com: “Debt Ceiling”                               
                
Issue 2: Reparations
Congress.gov: H.R.40 Summary and Text                           
Constitutional Rights Foundation: “Reparations for Slavery Reading”           
The Atlantic: “The Case for Reparations”                          
Oxford University Press: “Postconflict Reparations”                       
Axios: “The World’s Long History of Reparations”                      
CNN: “People Are Talking About Reparations. But It’s a Complex and Thorny Issue.”   
 

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Debt Ceiling

  1. What do you think about Congress’s decision to suspend the debt ceiling for two more years? What alternative solution(s) would you propose? Explain your reasoning.
  2. Read the Congressional Budget Office’s 2019 budget outlook (see link above). What is the long-term projection for the federal debt? How will this affect your future?
  3. When governments create budgets, they prioritize some programs over others (such as health care or defense). What types of trade-offs should be made, in your opinion, to reduce the national debt?
  4. How important is the issue of the national debt? Do you think this country is doing enough to address the problem? Why or why not?
  5. Looking at the "Buck Stops Here: What It Takes to Fund Our Nation” infographic, do you agree with the 2017 budget allocations? What would you change and why?

Issue 2: Reparations

  1. What are the arguments for and against reparations for slavery in the United States? Where do you stand, and why?
  2. Do you agree that some of the problems faced today by the African American community are the “legacy of slavery?” Why or why not?
  3. How are reparations for black slavery similar to, and different from, the reparations paid by the U.S. government to Japanese Americans interned in prison camps during World War II?
  4. What might a government program of reparations look like? How would you design it?
  5. Morally speaking, do you think a person can owe a debt based on the actions of previous generations? Why or why not?

Apr 18, 2019

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for May 2019 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Green New Deal
Congress.gov: H.Res.109 - Green New Deal (Text)                   
Fox News: “Green New Deal Would Cost Up to $93 Trillion Over 10 Years”   
Vox.com: “The Green New Deal, Explained”                       
Heritage Foundation: “GND Would Barely Change Earth’s Temperature”       
FactCheck.org: “The Facts on the ‘Green New Deal’”              
NPR: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Releases Green New Deal Outline”                                  

Issue 2: Capitalism vs. Socialism
Christian Science Monitor: “GND: Saving America or Turning It Socialist?”       
American Center for Law & Justice: “Truth About Socialism & Green New Deal”   
The Balance Small Business: “Differences Between Capitalism and Socialism”   
Investopedia.com: “Capitalist vs. Socialist Economies: What’s the Difference?” 
Corporate Finance Institute: “What Is Socialism vs. Capitalism?”           
Roll Call: “The Capitalism vs. Socialism Debate”                  


CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Green New Deal

  1. Read the text of the Green New Deal resolution (link above). Is the Green New Deal a step in the right direction or an example of government overreach?
  2. Why does the GND resolution include issues like jobs, health care and human rights? How do these issues connect to climate change?
  3. What crisis was Roosevelt’s New Deal responding to in the 1930s? What modern-day crisis is the Green New Deal responding to?
  4. What kind of a congressional proposal is the Green New Deal? If it was approved by Congress, what would happen?
  5. How important is the issue of climate change? Do you think this country is doing enough to address the problem?

Issue 2: Capitalism vs. Socialism

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of capitalism and socialism? Which economic system is more effective and why?
  2. Should property and the means of production (factories) be owned by businesses and individuals (capitalism) or the government (socialism)? Why?
  3. It is commonly argued that socialism is un-American. What are some arguments for and against this position?
  4. Should the government be involved in the economy? If so, to what extent?
  5. Who is responsible for a person’s well-being, the government or the individual?

 

Mar 20, 2019

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for April 2019 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: National Emergency
White House: “Presidential Proclamation Declaring National Emergency”        
Sen. Lamar Alexander Statement on Trump’s Emergency Declaration        
Sen. Thom Tillis OpEd: “I Would Vote Against Trump’s National Emergency”    
ushistory.org: “The Powers of Congress”                       
USA Today AGs OpEd: “Trump’s Emergency Declaration Constitutional”         
                                        
Issue 2: Civil Asset Forfeiture
Supreme Court Decision on Timbs v. Indiana                        
Institute for Justice: “Policing for Profit – The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture”    
Department of Justice Statistics on Equitable Sharing Program Proceeds       
Forbes: “Indiana Claims It Can Forfeit Cars For Speeding, Minor Drug Crimes”   
Heritage Foundation: “7 Things You Should Know About Civil Asset Forfeiture”    
National Conference of State Legislatures: “Evolving Civil Forfeiture Laws”   


CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: National Emergency

  1. Review President Trump’s national emergency declaration (link above). Do you agree with his decision to declare an emergency? Why or why not?
  2. Why do you think the Constitution’s framers created a system of checks and balances and separation of powers for the government? Is the system working as the framers intended? Why or why not?
  3. What are the powers demonstrated by the legislative branch and the executive branch in this situation?
  4. Which branch of the government do you think has the most power? Why?
  5. Read the statement from Sen. Lamar Alexander on Trump’s emergency declaration (link above). Do you agree with him that Trump’s declaration sets “a dangerous precedent?” Why or why not?

Issue 2: Civil Asset Forfeiture

  1. Should law enforcement agencies be allowed to take money and property from people who haven’t been charged or convicted of a crime? Why or why not? 
  2.  In your opinion, does the practice of civil asset forfeiture violate citizens’ constitutional rights? Why or why not?
  3. Read the Supreme Court’s decision on the Timbs v. Indiana case (link above). Do you agree with the court’s conclusion? Why or why not?
  4.  What is your position on civil asset forfeiture laws? Are they in need of reform? Why or why not?
  5. What protections does the Constitution provide for people who are charged with a crime? Should these same protections be guaranteed to people whose property is taken via civil asset forfeiture? Why or why not?
     

Feb 15, 2019

Research Links and Critical Thinking Questions for March 2019 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Gun Control Laws
Congress.gov: Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 Bill                   
Congress.gov: Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2019 Bill   
ProCon.org: “Should More Gun Control Laws Be Enacted in the U.S.?”       
Newsweek: “States Take Matters in their Hands as Stalemate in Congress”    
The Atlantic: “Democrats Are Newly Emboldened on Gun Control”           
NRA ILA: “Supreme Court Takes a 2nd Amendment Challenge to Gun Law”       
                                            
Issue 2: Vaccines
World Health Organization: “10 Threats to Global Health in 2019”           
U.S. News: “Public Confidence in Vaccines Sags, New Report Finds”      
Immunize for Good: “Fact or Fiction: Benefits vs. Risks”               
Dr. Lauren Feder: “Vaccine Pros and Cons” (More Cons than Pros)           
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “State Vaccination Requirements”   
ProCon.org: “Should Vaccines Be Required for Children?”               

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Gun Control Laws

  1. Are you for enacting stricter gun-control laws or expanding gun-control rights in the U.S.? Which would ultimately be better for the U.S. and why?
  2. How do you interpret the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? The amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
  3. How is the United States different now than it was in 1789, when the Second Amendment was written?
  4. Would enacting stricter gun-control laws help prevent school shootings? If so, why? If not, what would?
  5. Do you think there should be a law banning U.S. citizens from buying and possessing automatic weapons? Why or why not?

Issue 2: Vaccines

  1. Should the government have the right to compel vaccines for children? Should parents have the right to refuse them?
  2. What are the risks associated with vaccines and do those risks outweigh the benefits?
  3. Currently, mandatory vaccine laws are left to the states to decide. Should there be a national law for vaccines? Why or why not?
  4. Which is more important — individual rights or the collective good? Why?
  5. If vaccines are not required, will the public health be endangered? Why or why not?

 

Jan 08, 2019

Research Links & Critical Thinking Questions for February 2019 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Troops in Syria
NYT: “Trump Withdraws U.S. Forces from Syria”                    
Reuters: “Trump Starts Withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Syria”          
Forbes OpEd: “U.S. Troops Don’t Belong in Syria”                  
The Nation: “Why We Can’t Afford to Send More Troops to the Middle East”  
Resignation Letter of General Mattis, Former Secretary of Defense        
The Guardian OpEd: “Donald Trump Has a Point”                  
                                                
Issue 2: Food Stamps & Work Requirements
USDA’s Proposed New Rule Strengthening SNAP Work Requirements        
USA Today: USDA OpEd by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue         
National Conference of State Legislatures SNAP Fact Sheet            
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “SNAP Requirements Won’t Work”
USDA’s SNAP (Food Stamps) Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool            
Urban Institute: “The Anti-Poverty Effects of SNAP”                

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Troops in Syria

  1. What information would you need to make a decision about whether to keep troops on the ground in Syria?
  2. What are the differences between the opposing viewpoints in the pro/con congressional quotes on p. 3?
  3. Do you think that withdrawing troops from Syria would ultimately be better or worse for the U.S.? Explain your reasoning.
  4. How would you compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of keeping U.S. troops in Syria?
  5. Read Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s resignation letter to President Trump (link above). What are the major points or “big ideas” in the letter?

Issue 2: Food Stamps & Work Requirements

  1. Do you agree that the U.S. should set stricter work requirements for recipients of SNAP food stamps? Why or why not?
  2. Read the USDA OpEd by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (link above). What ideas would you add to his reasoning and how would these ideas change his conclusions?
  3. How do you think a food stamps recipient would react to the proposed USDA rule for stricter work requirements for SNAP?
  4. What solutions could you suggest to the problem of food scarcity in the U.S.? How would they differ from the current SNAP food stamps program?
  5. What information would you need to make a decision about whether to establish stricter work requirements for SNAP food stamps recipients?

 

Nov 13, 2018

Research Links & Critical Thinking Questions for December 2018 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Birthright Citizenship
Rep. Steve King: “Ending Birthright Citizenship Does Not Require an Amendment”    
The Federalist: Trump Sends Birthright Citizenship Trial Balloon                
Politico: “Can Trump Revoke Birthright Citizenship? Nearly All Say No"          
National Review: “Birthright Citizenship – A Nutty Policy We’re Probably Stuck With”    
The News & Observer OpEd: “Executive Order Clarifying the 14th Amendment”        
CNN OpEd: “Revoking Birthright Citizenship Is Un-American”                
                                                        
Issue 2: Balanced Budgdet Amendment
Investopedia: What Is a Balanced Budget?                          
Peter G. Peterson Foundation: Balanced Budget Amendment Pros and Cons        
Motley Fool: Advantages and Disadvantages of a Balanced Budget                
Balanced Politics: Yes/No Arguments on Balanced Budget Amendment            
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Balanced Budget Amendment Poses Risks”    
Center for American rogress: “Reflections on the Congressional Budget Act”        

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Birthright Citizenship
What is your interpretation of the 14th Amendment? Does its language grant citizenship to those born in the U.S. whose parents are undocumented? Why or why not?
Do you agree with Rep. Steve King’s interpretation of the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Why or why not?
Do you believe the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment ensures citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants? Why or why not?
Do you think that ending birthright citizenship would resolve our immigration challenges? Why or why not?
What qualities do you think should define whether or not someone is a U.S. citizen?

Issue 2: Balanced Budgdet Amendment
1.    Do you think a balanced budget amendment is necessary in order for Congress to not spend more than it receives in revenue? Why or why not?
2.    What impact would a balanced budget amendment have on fiscal policy during a recession?
3.    Are you in favor of a balanced budget amendment? Explain why or why not.
4.    How would a balanced budget amendment affect the balance of power between the President and Congress? Between the federal courts and Congress?
5.    Should entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security be cut in order to reduce the national debt? Why or why not?

 

Oct 16, 2018

Research Links & Critical Thinking Questions for November 2018 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Smoking Age

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids: States & Localities That Have Raised the MLSA to 21    
National Academy of Sciences: “Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco”   
American Heart Association: “Tobacco, No Minor Issue” Fact Sheet           
American Lung Association: “Tracking Progress Toward Raising Minimum Sale Age”   
Study: “Raising the Tobacco Sales Age to 21: Surveying the Legal Landscape” (2016)   
Worth It: Tobacco Facts                                  
Tobacco 21: Tobacco 21 Fact Sheet                               

Issue 2: Tech Regulations

The Hill OpEd: “Regulate Social Media Just Like Other Media”               
Washington Post OpEd: “Don’t Regulate Facebook”                      
PBS: “Stopping Foreign Meddling in U.S. Elections Via Social Media Is Enormous Task”   
Senate.gov: Honest Ads Act (S. 1989) Section by Section                   
Debate.org: Should the Internet Be Regulated by the Government?           
The Conversation: “Government Regulation of Social Media Would Be Worse”       

 

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1:  Smoking Age

  1. Should the U.S. make it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy tobacco products in all states? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think increasing the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products infringes on young people’s rights? Why or why not?
  3. If cigarettes and other tobacco products were more difficult to obtain in stores, do you think teenagers would be less inclined to want them? Why or why not?
  4. What do you think is the appropriate minimum age for purchasing tobacco products? Why?
  5. What are the arguments for and against raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products? Which position do you agree with and why?

Issue 2: Tech Regulations

  1. Do you think the government should regulate tech companies like Facebook and Google? Why or why not?
  2. Read for pro and con congressional quotes on raising the smoking age on p. 3. Whose opinion do you agree most with, and why?
  3. Are social media platforms like Twitter subject to the First Amendment?
  4. Is there a right to free speech on social media owned by private tech companies?
  5. Do you trust social and search companies like Facebook and Google to regulate themselves? Why or why not?

 

Sep 18, 2018

Research Links & Critical Thinking Questions for October 2018 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Minimum Wage

U.S. Department of Labor: State Minimum Wage Laws               
National Conference of State Legislatures: State Minimum Wage Laws       
Economic Policy Institute: Minimum Wage Tracker                   
The Guardian: “How Much Is an Hour Worth? The War Over Minimum Wage”   
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Living Wage Calculator           
Forbes: “McDonald’s Says Goodbye Cashiers, Hello Kiosks”               
 

Issue 2: Fuel Efficiency Standards

Federal Register: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from EPA and NHTSA       
EPA: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle           
InsideClimateNews: “How Pruitt's EPA Is Weakening Clean Air Rules”        
Reuters: “U.S. States Vow to Fight Trump Rollback on Auto Emissions”       
Washington Post: “Trump Administration Says Weaker Fuel Standards Saves ..."   
EPA: Estimate Your Carbon Footprint Calculator                   

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1:  Minimum Wage

  1. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor link above to see if your state has a minimum wage law. How does your state compare to other states? Do you think it should be higher or lower than it is?

  2. How does the minimum wage issue relate to gender and race?

  3. Use the Living Wage Calculator (link above) to calculate your living wage. Should the U.S. should establish a “living wage” standard? Why or why not?

  4. Do you support or oppose raising the minimum wage? If you were speaking to a person who disagreed, what is the strongest argument in support of your position?

  5. Do you think that if the minimum wage was raised, it would ultimately help or hurt workers?

     

Issue 2: Fuel Efficiency Standards

  1. Does the responsibility to slow down or stop climate change belong to humans? Why or why not?

  2. Using the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator (link above), calculate your carbon footprint. What does the term “carbon footprint” mean? Why do people care about their carbon footprint?

  3. On an individual level, what can you do to limit your “carbon contribution” to the environment?

  4. Are greenhouse gases a natural part of the earth’s climate system? Why or why not?

  5. Do you think the U.S. should weaken their fuel-efficiency standards? Why or why not?

     

 

Aug 17, 2018

Research Links & Critical Thinking Questions for September 2018 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Supreme Court
supremecourt.gov: About the U.S. Supreme Court                   
Georgetown University: Supreme Court Nomination and Confirmation Process   
Supreme Court Historical Society: How the Court Works               
landmarkcases.org: Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court           
NYT: “10 Supreme Court Cases Every Teen Should Know”               
CNN: “Where Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Stands on the Issues”                                              

Issue 2: Bullying Laws
stopbullying.gov: List of State Laws on Bullying                   
Text of Pennsylvania State Rep. Frank Burns’ House Bill 2217           
Bully Police USA: Watchdog Reporting on State Anti-Bullying Laws       
Huffington Post OpEd: “Why Criminalizing Bullying Is the Wrong Approach”   
Crisis Prevention Institute: 5 School Bullying Misperceptions           
Psychology Today OpEd: "Anti-Bullying Laws Punish the Tax Payer"           
cyberbullying.org: Cyberbullying Statistics                       

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1:  Supreme Court

  1. Do you think Supreme Court justices should take an active role in politics? Why or why not?
  2. What defines a “conservative” or “liberal” Supreme Court justice?
  3. What is a justice’s responsibility when their personal opinions are in conflict with the rule of law in a case?
  4. Should the people be allowed to approve Supreme Court appointments instead of, or in addition to, the U.S. Senate? Why or why not?
  5. Read the “10 Supreme Court Cases Every Teen Should Know” article (link above) and explain how the Supreme Court affects your life personally?

Issue 2: Bullying Laws

  1. Do you think parents should be fined if their child bullies? Why or why not?
  2. What kind of interventions can young people use to prevent or stop bullying? List three things you could do to defuse a bullying situation.
  3. Do you think you’ve ever bullied someone? If so, why? What made you stop or continue to bully?
  4. Do you think bullying is a serious problem in your school? Why or why not?
  5. What can be done to make schools safer and more inclusive?

 

Apr 19, 2018

Research Links & Critical Thinking Questions for May 2018 Topics

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Digital Privacy
The Guardian: 50 Million Facebook Profiles Harvested for Cambridge Analytica"           
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): Original Text of the Senate CLOUD Act Bill           
Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA): Press Release on CLOUD Act Passage           
Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Responsibility Deflected, the CLOUD Act Passes”   
European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Key Changes       
Phys.org Fact Check: Facebook Makes Shaky Privacy Claims               
            
Issue 2: Trade War
Roll Call: “China Trade Tariffs Stir Support, Fears and Retaliation Threat”           
White House: “President's Actions Responding to China’s Unfair Trade Practices”   
Statement from Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) on President Trump’s Tariffs           
House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s Statement on President Trump’s Tariffs       
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Report on “Made in China 2025” Plan               
New York Times: “If There’s a U.S.-China Trade War, China May Have Weapons”        

 

CRITICAL-THINKING QUESTIONS

Issue 1:  Digital Privacy

  1. In your opinion, does Facebook respect the privacy rights of its users? What, if anything, should be done to protect FB users’ personal data in the future?
  2. Some states have laws that provide privacy protections for citizens who live there. Do you support the inclusion of privacy protections in your state’s laws? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think Congress should strengthen privacy protections for U.S. citizens? Why or why not?
  4. If a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution was added to specifically protect Americans’ right to privacy, how would you word it?
  5. Do you think that the right to privacy is a fundamental freedom, like freedom of religion? Why or why not?

Issue 2: Trade War

  1. Do you feel President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on China will ultimately help or hurt the U.S.? Justify your position.
  2. Will China surpass the United States as the world’s superpower? Why or why not?
  3. Should the U.S. view China as a threat or an opportunity?
  4. What role should Congress play in easing tensions between the U.S. and China and facilitating greater cooperation?
  5. What is the difference between “absolute advantage” and “comparative advantage?” What “absolute advantage” does China have over the United States and what “comparative ad-vantage” does the U.S. have over China?

 

Mar 21, 2018

Research Links & Critical Thinking Questions for April 2018

Ideas for Teachers for April 2018 SGAP Program

Feb 16, 2018

Research Links & Critical-Thinking Questions – March 2018

RESEARCH LINKS Issue 1: Offshore Drilling Heritage Foundation: How Offshore Oil and Gas Production Benefits the Economy  Oceana Report: Safety Measures Will Not Make Offshore Drilling Safe  Press Release from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke Announcement  National Ocean Industries Association Offshore Energy Industry Publications  Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Statistics and Facts  U.S. Department of Energy Report “Today in Energy” 

Nov 08, 2017

Research Links & Critical-Thinking Questions – December 2017

RESEARCH LINKS Issue 1: Charter Schools

Sep 20, 2017

Research Links & Critical-Thinking Questions – October 2017

RESEARCH LINKS Issue 1: War in Afghanistan

Aug 09, 2017

Research Links & Critical-Thinking Questions - September 2017

RESEARCH LINKS Issue 1: Dreamer Immigrants

Apr 20, 2017

Research Links & Critical Thinking Questions for May 2017 Issues

LINKS For further research, please see the links below. Links have been shortened for your convenience.

Feb 20, 2017

Links & Critical Thinking Questions – March 2017

LINKS For further research, please see the links below. Links have been shortened for your convenience.

Jan 19, 2017

Ideas for Teachers (Links & Critical-Thinking Questions) – February 2017

LINKS For further research, please see the links below. Links have been shortened for your convenience.

Oct 20, 2016

Ideas for Teachers (Links & Critical-Thinking Questions) – November 2016

LINKS

Apr 13, 2016

Ideas for Teachers/Critical-Thinking Questions – May/June 2016

LINKS

Mar 22, 2016

Ideas for Teachers/Critical-Thinking Questions – April 2016

LINKS Apple vs. FBI Los Angeles Times Washington Post USA Today Washington Post (hearing recap) CNN NPR

Feb 26, 2016

Ideas for Teachers/Critical-Thinking Questions – March 2016

LINKS Presidential Authority Brookings Institution Constitution Daily Cornell University Law School Smithsonian Magazine New York Times HowStuffWorks Washington Examiner

Jan 22, 2016

Ideas for Teachers/Critical Questions – Feb. 2016

LINKS

Nov 19, 2015

Ideas for Teachers/Critical Questions - Nov./Dec. 2015

Links:

Nov 09, 2015

Ideas for Teachers - October 2015

Resources for additional study:

May 06, 2015

Ideas for Teachers - May 2015

Websites and videos for additional study:

Mar 04, 2015

Ideas for Teachers - February 2015

Oct 09, 2014

Ideas for Teachers - October 2014

Websites and videos for additional study:

Sep 11, 2014

Ideas for Teachers

Websites and Videos for Additional Study

Jun 03, 2014

Ideas for Teachers - May 2014

Websites and videos for additional study:   Gun-Free School Zones