Ideas for Teachers May 2024


TikTok has become an immensely popular app with teens and young social media users for its short videos and customized song and dance features. But recently the app is the subject of scrutiny over fears it could be used by the Chinese Communist government to censor content and spy on Americans.

Issue 1: TikTok Ban H.R.7521, “Protecting Americans Foreign Controlled Apps” “TikTok Ban Top Pros and Cons” “What Banning TikTok in the U.S. Would Look Like” “These 39 States Already Ban TikTok from Government Devices” “House Passes TikTok Ban Bill” “House Passed TikTok Ban Bill. But Is App a National Security Threat?”

Issue 2: Ukraine Aid H.R.5692, “Ukraine Security Assistance Appropriations Act”
Government Accountability Office: “What’s the Status of U.S. Aid to Ukraine?” “The Case for and Against Aid to Ukraine” “Mike Johnson Faces Revolt by Republicans on Ukraine Aid” “Speaker Johnson Faces Ukraine Aid Dilemma” “Senators Push Forward with Ukraine Aid as World Watches”


Issue 1: TikTok Ban

  1. Should TikTok be banned in the U.S.? Why or why not? What alternative solutions do you suggest?
  2. Although they’re owned by the same company, China’s version of TikTok offers a child-friendly version, with educational videos and a time limit that isn’t offered in the U.S. Do you think it’s possible China is using TikTok to influence a generation of American youth?
  3. Is TikTok merely a fun video app, or something more insidious? If you were a parent, would you allow your kids to use the app? Why or why not?
  4. The TikTok app contains a great deal of private information about American users and this data is stored offshore. But is it futile to worry about Chinese government surveillance in an age where all big tech companies (and the U.S. government) are spying on us anyway?
  5. Should American federal or state governments ban TikTok on government devices? Why or why not?

Issue 2: Ukraine Aid

  1. What are the arguments for and against the U.S. continuing to give aid to Ukraine to fight Russia?
  2. Some foreign policy experts believe that Russia seeks to weaken Ukraine by waging a “war of attrition.” What do you think that means?
  3. Former President Donald Trump has accused President Joe Biden of putting “Ukraine first” and “America last.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think support for Ukraine is important to U.S. interests? Why or why not?
  5. Do you feel that Ukraine should advance toward NATO membership? Why or why not?

Teacher Spotlight on Chris Elliott (New Haven, IN)

Chris Elliott, New Haven, IN


Name: Chris Elliott
School Name: New Haven High School
School Location: New Haven, IN
Subject(s) Teaching: U.S. History, Government
Grade(s)Teaching: 11, 12
No. of Years Teaching: 12

In an Education Week article on how polarization is affecting the classroom, Rick Hess discusses how the deep political divides in our nation are having a “chilling effect” on classroom dialogue. Social studies teachers in particular may feel more challenged than teachers of other subjects since many government and history teachers use current events to spark classroom discussion and debate.

As the article notes, because of the heightened polarization, some teachers are avoiding discussion of current events. But learning how to navigate differing opinions is a skill we will need more, not less, in the youth who will be “generation next” for our country.

Teaching Current Events in the Classroom

As a veteran teacher and published author, Chris Elliott—who teaches U.S. history and government at a public high school in New Haven, Indiana—says he’s seen a number of changes as a result of the tense political climate.

“Public education is being scrutinized again,” Elliott says. “Much of that scrutiny—CRT, mask mandates during Covid, banned books, etc.—is based on misinformation. Recognizing this climate, I don’t shy away from assignments and discussions covering potential powder keg topics, but I ensure that I remain politically neutral in the classroom.”

Elliott believes that teaching youth how to engage in constructive dialogue with people who hold opposing views will be even more important in the future. “We should continue to encourage rich dialogues about sensitive subjects,” Elliott says. “In my government classes, we recently held discussions on Supreme Court cases about gay marriage, abortion, search and seizure laws, religious rights in public school, and gun control. The kids love it!”

One resource Elliott uses in his classroom is the SGAP Student Forum newsletter. “We read ‘the controversy’ sections of the newsletter after I summarize the two bills up for vote,” he says. “Next, I ask students to complete the assignment provided in the newsletter. We discuss their responses the following day.”

Distracting Devices

Another trend that has affected education today is technology, Elliott says. “We cannot ignore how information on the internet—some credible, some not—shapes our modern society, which includes the classroom,” he adds. “Increased internet access will continue to affect our curriculum.”

One of Elliott’s concerns is the over-reliance many students have developed on technology, and the distraction it causes.Cell phones are the number one challenge facing educators today,” Elliott says. “Student engagement and achievement decline primarily due to distractions that electronic technology brings to the table.”

Elliott believes schools should implement a policy banning student cell phones and other devices. In this way, teachers themselves aren’t forced to act as “cell phone cops” with their students.

Indeed, Elliott’s teaching philosophy and approach to classroom management emphasizes respecting his students rather than micromanaging them. “Most of my students already tackle adult responsibilities—jobs, driving, caring for younger siblings,” he says. “I establish trust by recognizing their adult responsibilities and working to guide them toward graduation and full immersion into the adult world.”


Ideas for Teachers April 2024


NUCLEAR ENERGY is found in the nucleus of atoms. There is enormous energy in the bonds that hold atoms together. To make electricity, energy must be released from these atoms through either fission or fusion.

Issue 1: Liquefied Natural Gas H.R.7176, “Unlocking our Domestic LNG Potential Act of 2024”
White House: “Biden Announces Pause on Approvals of LNG Exports”
Reuters: “U.S. House Passes Bill to Reverse Biden’s LNG Pause” “Why Pausing LNG Exports Is Bad Foreign Policy” “Liquefied Natural Gas 101” “Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)”

Issue 2: Nuclear Energy H.R.6544 “Atomic Energy Advancement Act”
The Hill OpEd: “Conflicts of Interest Nuclear Laws Could Undermine Safety”
World Nuclear Association: “Nuclear Power in the World Today”
New York Times: “Nuclear Power Bill Passed by House, Support Grows”
Center for Sustainable Systems (University of MI): “Nuclear Energy Fact Sheet” “Nuclear Power 101”


Issue 1: Liquefied Natural Gas

  1. Read the White House statement on why the Biden administration temporarily paused exports of LNG (link above). Do you agree with the decision and its rationale? Why or why not?
  2. What are the arguments for and against the U.S. continuing to export liquefied natural gas (LNG)?
  3. Environmental activists argue that furthering U.S. LNG exports is incompatible with our climate commitments because they will lock in fossil fuel consumption to the detriment of renewable energy sources. How would you respond to their position?
  4. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL) has said that climate advocates who fight LNG projects are heroes. “I can only hope that we build off Biden’s pause to get to a green, clean future,” he said. If Rep. Frost was (or is) your congressman, what would you write to him in a letter?
  5. What is an example of an energy source that is renewable and has less environmental impact than fossil fuels?

Issue 2: Nuclear Energy

  1. What images spring to mind when you hear the term “nuclear energy?”
  2. Is nuclear energy better than fossil fuels? Should we pursue other strategies like geothermal and solar instead?
  3. Are the impacts of the Chernobyl (Ukraine, 1986) and Fukushima Daiichi (Japan, 2011) nuclear accidents still relevant today? If so, how?
  4. How would you feel if a nuclear power plant were built in your community?
  5. Are there better alternatives to nuclear energy?

Ideas for Teachers for March 2024


SECTION 230 of the Communications Decency Act stipulates that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

Issue 1: Daylight Saving Time S.582 “Sunshine Protection Act of 2023”
National Conference of State Legislatures: “DST State Legislation”
Journal of Sleep Medicine: “American Academy of Sleep Medicine Statement”
NYT: “Bill to Make DST Permanent Re-emerges from the Dark” “Six Things to Know about the Political Debate around DST”
Smithsonian Magazine: “What Happened Last Time U.S. Made DST Permanent?”

Issue 2: Social Media Safety S.1409 “Kids Online Safety Act” “‘You Have Blood on Your Hands,’ Senator Tells Zuckerberg”
CBS News: “Meta CEO Zuckerberg Apologizes to Parents of Victims”
cdasec230: “Communications Decency Act Pros and Cons”
Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Section 230 Communications Decency Act
WaPo: “Meta’s Zuckerberg Apologizes to Child Abuse Victims in Hearing”


Issue 1: Daylight Saving Time

  1. Should the United States make Daylight Saving Time permanent year round? Why or why not?
  2. Visit and read the arguments for permanent Standard Time. What are the benefits and drawbacks of the proposal?
  3. How does “springing forward” and “falling back” affect you personally? Which time zone do you prefer and why?
  4. Why do you think some states like Hawaii and most of Arizona opt out of Daylight Saving Time?
  5. Compare and contrast the economic advantages and disadvantages of Daylight Saving Time with those of Standard Time. Is DST better for the economy overall? Explain your answer.

Issue 2: Social Media Safety

  1. In your own experience with social media, have you encountered rude or abusive behavior from others? What do you think is a good solution to this problem?
  2. Should the social media platform itself be responsible for the behavior and comments of users? Why or why not?
  3. Do you believe Section 230’s protections for big tech companies need to be revised? If so, what changes would you make?
  4. Do social media networks cause more harm than good? Why or why not?
  5. How does the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment protect free speech in the U.S.?

Ideas for Teachers for February 2024


THE NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost, or no-cost lunches to children each school day.

Issue 1: Whole Milk H.R.1147, “Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023”
USDA: “The National School Lunch Program Fact Sheet” “Whole Milk Facts”
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: “Dairy Milk Isn’t Healthy” “Debate Surrounds Nutrition of Full-Fat Milk” “School Cafeterias Might Serve Whole Milk Again”

Issue 2: FISA Surveillance
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: “Constitutional Amendment 4: Privacy”
Brennan Center for Justice: “Congress Should Not Reauthorize Surveillance”
Center for Strategic & International Studies: “Reforming Section 702 of FISA”
Americans for Prosperity: “Key Vote Alert: Vote YES on HR 6570″
WaPo Op-Ed: “FISA Provision Vital to Beating the Opioid Crisis”
Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Surveillance ‘Reform’ Bill a Farce”


Issue 1: Whole Milk

  1. Regulations limiting milk options for schools surfaced under the Obama administration, when former First Lady Michelle Obama championed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Are programs like these examples of government overreach? Why or why not?
  2. If you had the option to buy whole or 2% milk (flavored or unflavored) for your school lunches, would you drink milk more? If so, what advantages and/or disadvantages would that bring?
  3. What weight should be given to the opinions of nutrition experts, parents, and even children when determining what food is served in schools?
  4. By limiting children’s lunch options to only fat-free or low-fat milk, is the government actually discouraging kids from drinking milk?
  5. If the “Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act” is passed by Congress, can you think of any negative consequences that might occur? Would the potential negative consequences outweigh the benefits?

Issue 2: FISA Surveillance


  1. Does FISA Section 702 need to be amended to strengthen protections of Americans’ constitutional and privacy rights? Or should Congress permanently reauthorize it as is?
  2. Why do you think some legislators are concerned about the potential for abuse of power among employees and/or contractors of federal government intelligence agencies?
  3. Read the wording of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (link above). Opponents of FISA Section 702 claim that it creates a “massive end run around the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
  4. Are Americans’ constitutional rights possibly being violated by some federal agencies’ current interpretations of FISA Section 702? Why or why not?
  5. What reforms, if any, would balance the national security value of the foreign intelligence collection program with the protection of privacy rights and civil liberties?