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 site will be updated frequently with links to classroom-ready news items, relevant context, and suggested teaching activities and discussion questions.
Should the Federal Government Legalize Marijuana?
March 19, 2019
On Feb. 28, the day he introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, (S.597) Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted, “The failed War on Drugs has really been a war on people—disproportionately criminalizing poor people, people of color & people with mental illness. I’m reintroducing the #MarijuanaJustice Act to begin reversing our failed federal drug policies.” The views expressed by Sen. Booker […]Read More >
The End of the Draft?
March 12, 2019
Last month, a federal judge in Texas ruled that an all-male draft is unconstitutional.1Current laws demand that all males must register for Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday, or face prosecution, fines and prison time. If an American male over 18 is not registered, he is not eligible for federal student aid, cannot […]Read More >
Who counts in America?
March 05, 2019
Every ten years, the federal government conducts a census to count people residing in the United States. The information gathered helps the federal, state, and local governments plan and create public policy, identifies regional and national trends, and, most importantly, is used in apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. As the U.S. population […]Read More >
State of Uncertainty: Emergency Declaration on the Border
February 26, 2019
Why declare an emergency? On February 15th, 2019 President Trump declared a state of emergency at the US-Mexico border in an effort to secure funding for his long-promised border wall. The move had been predicted for months as a way to avoid a government shutdown if Congress refused to allocate the funding in the annual […]Read More >
So, what is the Green New Deal?
February 20, 2019
In the weeks since Democrats took over the House of Representatives, an idea has been gaining some momentum and media attention: A Green New Deal. According to CNN’s Zachary Wolf, the proposal will likely become a litmus test on the road to the Democratic nomination for the presidency.In this post, we’ll take a look at […]Read More >
ERA Won’t Go Away
February 20, 2019
“Yes Virginia, there is an ERA” “One State to 38!” These slogans adorned the banners and signs that ERA supporters brought to the Virginia State Capitol at the beginning of the General Assembly’s legislative session this January. ¹ ERA activists are hoping that this year’s session would include a floor vote on ratification of the […]Read More >
The Shutdown: It’s Over!…Isn’t It?
January 29, 2019
In 1978, Kenny Roger’s released ‘The Gambler’, a song about which details the sage advice of an avid poker player. The lyrics famously contain the chorus “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run”. Fittingly, the song debuted less than a […]Read More >
H.R. 1 – A Bill to Rescue Democracy?
January 22, 2019
The first bill introduced in the new Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is H.R. 1, informally known as the For the People Act. (The bill’s full title is H.R. 1: To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other […]Read More >
10 Things to Know About the Government Shutdown
January 15, 2019
Why has the government shutdown? As summarized by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “Every year, Congress must pass and the president must sign budget legislation for the next fiscal year (FY), consisting of 12 appropriations bills, one for each appropriations subcommittee. When the federal government’s fiscal year began October 1, Congress had enacted five of the […]Read More >
The New Congress and the Government Shutdown
January 08, 2019
On January 3, the 116th Congress was sworn in as directed by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. The incoming Congress will be the most diverse in history. Here are some facts about the makeup of the new Congress: In the House of Representatives, Democrats will now be in the majority with 235 members. Republicans will have […]Read More >