Our Current Issues blog helps teachers connect news stories to their classrooms and students. Teaching the news is time-consuming and complicated; by the time you are able to find and process important issues and identify how to teach them, they are old news. This blog will be updated weekly, with links to classroom-ready news items, relevant context, and suggested discussion questions for teachers. Additionally, we help connect teachers to resources from partners across the civic education world, such as AllSides for Schools and our partners at the Teaching for Democracy Alliance.
Homeless People and the COVID-19 Pandemic
March 26, 2020
The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is affecting every American and people all over the world, but it does not affect everyone equally. The more than 500,000 Americans who are homeless are especially vulnerable—due to age, lack of access to health care, underlying medical conditions, and lack of access to information and news—and also pose a risk […]Read More >
Coronavirus, Prisons, and Detention Centers
March 24, 2020
In the face of the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, government officials and medical experts are calling on people all over the world to practice social distancing.1 In general, this means canceling events and gatherings, avoiding large groups and crowds, and, when possible, staying home. Many people are working from home,2 schools have closed or moved online,3 and […]Read More >
Humans, Animals, and Viruses
March 23, 2020
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak is believed to have started at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It is unclear which species transferred the virus to humans, but scientists largely agree on the point of origin.1 The 2002 outbreak of SARS, another type of coronavirus, began under similar circumstances.2 LISTEN: A 13-minute podcast […]Read More >
Gender, Identity, and Official IDs
March 13, 2020
In February, Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced the Gender Inclusive Passport Act (H.R. 5962) in the House of Representatives. The legislation currently has 25 cosponsors, all of them Democrats.1 If the bill becomes law, it would create a third gender designation on U.S. passports—unspecified (X)—to join the existing designations of male (M) and female (F).2 […]Read More >
Public Health, Public Policy & Personal Responsibility: Coronavirus and the Common Good
March 04, 2020
Public health officials first encountered COVID-19, popularly called the coronavirus, in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Thus far, the virus has infected over 89,000 people, killing more than 3,000.1 In the United States, there have been more than 100 cases in 15 states; at least six people have died, all of them in Washington state.2 […]Read More >
Universal Basic Income: Pipe Dream or Proactive Policy?
February 28, 2020
On November 6, 2017, businessman Andrew Yang began a presidential campaign centered on a signature policy, Universal Basic Income (UBI).1 If put in place, this UBI or “Freedom Dividend” would give every adult American $1,000 a month, no questions asked.2 The idea captured some voters’ imaginations; although Yang ultimately suspended his campaign after a poor […]Read More >
Understanding Ideological Labels
February 20, 2020
During campaigns and elections, candidates use political labels, such as liberal, moderate, progressive, conservative, and libertarian, to position themselves in relation to each other and as a shorthand for their worldviews and policy preferences. This presidential election cycle features candidates from across a wider political spectrum than most elections in recent years. In the United […]Read More >
Is It a Crime When Politicians Lie?
February 05, 2020
“There’s a clear difference between politics and a crime,” Michael Levy told the Supreme Court in January,1 when he made arguments in a case about New Jersey’s “Bridgegate” scandal. As the justices considered whether or not a public official commits fraud by obfuscating the “real reason”2 behind a decision, they asked both sides tough questions […]Read More >
Primary Voting Begins: Iowa and New Hampshire
January 29, 2020
What Should You Watch for in the Democratic Primaries? The next month features four nominating contests: the Iowa caucuses (February 3), the New Hampshire primary (February 11), the Nevada caucuses (February 22), and the South Carolina primary (February 29).1 A great deal of polling has been done to determine voters’ favorites in these contests, particularly […]Read More >
How Would You Vote in the Senate Impeachment Trial?
January 17, 2020
Editor’s Note: This week, we created a longer post to provide some background on both the process and substance of President Donald Trump’s impeachment and Senate trial. This post includes more substantial teaching strategies, including a role-playing approach, that can be used to explore the issues at the heart of the impeachment and Senate trial. […]Read More >