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.
Criminal Justice Reform: The First Step Act
December 31, 2018
On December 21st, President Trump signed the FIRST STEP Act of 2018 into law. In addition to being a notable act of bipartisanship, the act will have far reaching implications for the nation’s criminal justice system and will have meaningful impacts on the lives of incarcerated people. The bill, whose title is an acronym for […]Read More >
New Year, New Congress
December 18, 2018
Congress is adjourning for the holiday break and when it comes back in January, the new congressional class will be the most diverse in history. The November elections saw historic wins for women and minority groups that have lacked representatives of their demographics. The 116th Congress will include several notable members: There will be a record […]Read More >
Don’t Like the Election Results? Change Them!
December 11, 2018
Just when you thought it was safe to declare the 2018 midterm elections over… Historically, the results of elections have always been honored, even when the fairness of a given contest is debatable. In recent history, for example, some people questioned to what extent the elections of John F. Kennedy1, Richard Nixon2, Ronald Reagan3, George W. Bush4, […]Read More >
Mueller and the Lame Duck
December 04, 2018
Congress is back in session after Thanksgiving break, but the newly elected senators and representatives have not yet taken their seats. For the next month and a half, the outgoing Republican majority will continue to call the shots in the House of Representatives, meaning that these are the last few weeks of single-party control of […]Read More >
Congressional Term Limits: A Balance on a Check?
November 26, 2018
In this week’s blog post, we will explore an idea that is gaining some traction in the United States: term limits for members of Congress. New Kids on The Very, Very Old Block After attending orientation classes (yes, those are a thing) and being sworn in, freshman representatives and senators will take their seats next […]Read More >
Making Sense of Election Results, Part 2
November 12, 2018
In this post, we will take a look at some important issues that voters weighed in on in last week’s election. Our previous post examined the shift in the national political landscape, especially the change of power in the House of Representatives. This post will take a look at ballot initiatives across the country. For a full […]Read More >
Making Sense of Election Results, Part 1
November 09, 2018
Tuesday’s election strengthened the Republican majority in the Senate, but it is likely that the most significant outcome at the national level is Democrats’ new majority in the House of Representatives. In this post, we will explore some of the trends and data from the midterms as well as some of the implications of divided […]Read More >
A Rumble in the House—What Are the Odds of Republicans Maintaining the Majority?
November 05, 2018
What’s Up? The members of the House of Representatives represent citizens on the basis of population. Representatives (who are elected to two-year terms) have many duties, but their most important ones are to make and pass federal laws by introducing bills and resolutions, offering amendments, serving on committees, and voting to represent their constituents. Tomorrow, […]Read More >
Campaign Ads and Campaign Cash
October 31, 2018
The 2018 election is easily going to be the most expensive midterm election in history. There are estimates that campaigns, parties, and interest groups will spend about $5.2 billion by the time it’s all over—about 35 percent more than was spent on the 2014 midterms. Some of this money is spent on supplies, signs, the hiring of […]Read More >
Anger, Fear, and Polarization
October 29, 2018
The hate-based mass shooting in Pittsburgh and the attempted assassinations of prominent Democrats and media figures are among the most recent and startling signs that the divides in the country are getting deeper and more dangerous. This post is intended to help teachers and students explore the sharp political divides that exist in the United States. It is also important […]Read More >