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.
Should Eligibility for Food Stamps Be More Restrictive?
December 11, 2019
Upon releasing new rules that will make it more difficult for “able-bodied” adults to receive food stamps, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue explained, “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work. This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the […]Read More >
The Death Penalty: A Just Punishment?
December 04, 2019
On November 15, 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals suspended the execution of Rodney Reed and sent his case back to trial, due to new witness testimony that pointed to his innocence and raised concerns about how evidence was handled during the initial trial.1 Since 1977, at least 166 inmates have been released from death […]Read More >
Political Ads on Social Media
November 25, 2019
On October 30, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that, effective November 22, Twitter would ban all political advertising on its platform. Dorsey justified the decision by explaining that political ads present “entirely new challenges to civic discourse.”1 Twitter’s sweeping decision was not an arbitrary one; it was the result of a new wave of scrutiny […]Read More >
Vaping: Free Market vs. Consumer Safety
November 19, 2019
On September 11, 2019, President Donald Trump told reporters that his administration was considering a ban on flavored vaping products.1 This announcement came after a sometimes-fatal, vaping-related illness began appearing across the United States. On November 18, the Trump administration seemed to reverse course under pressure from constituents2 and corporate donors,3 announcing that no new […]Read More >
How the Supreme Court Could Reshape Discrimination Lawsuits
November 15, 2019
On November 13, 2019, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American-Owned Media.1 The Court’s decision will determine how difficult it will be to bring future cases regarding possible racial bias to trial.2 Facts of the Case Byron Allen, an African American, owns Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN), which operates […]Read More >
What We Can Learn From the 2019 Elections
November 12, 2019
On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, voters in eight states went to the polls to vote in local and statewide elections. Competitive gubernatorial and state legislative races were held in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Virginia.1 These were the last elections before the 2020 census, which could result in the redrawing of political boundaries in each state. Furthermore, […]Read More >
The Supreme Court Will Address DACA. What Will Follow?
October 30, 2019
On November 12, 2019, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the Trump administration’s efforts to end the immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The status of DACA recipients has been in limbo for over two years amidst administration actions and court injunctions. What Is DACA? After Congress failed in its […]Read More >
Using the Harkness Method to Teach the News
October 24, 2019
A Brief Introduction to The Harkness Method1 The Harkness method is a type of student discussion created at the Phillips Exeter Academy in 1930. At the time, most methods of education involved teacher-led lectures and rote memorization. But a wealthy philanthropist, Edward Harkness, promised a financial contribution of over $5 million (or almost $90 million […]Read More >
President Trump Seeks to Further Reduce U.S. Military Presence in Syria
October 18, 2019
On October 6, 2019, President Trump made the surprising announcement that he would pull out most of the 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria, where the United States has been working with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and to […]Read More >
Understanding the Current Impeachment Inquiry
October 15, 2019
In late September 2019, it was revealed that an officer at the Central Intelligence Agency filed an official complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general, alleging that President Trump had engaged in an inappropriate phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky on July 25. The whistleblower alleged that President Trump threatened to withhold approximately $400 million […]Read More >