Ideas for Teachers for March 2024

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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
Congress.gov: 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”
NPR.org: “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
Congress.gov: S.1409 “Kids Online Safety Act”
NPR.org: “‘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”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Daylight Saving Time

  1. Should the United States make Daylight Saving Time permanent year round? Why or why not?
  2. Visit https://savestandardtime.com/ 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

RESEARCH LINKS

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

Congress.gov: H.R.1147, “Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023”
USDA: “The National School Lunch Program Fact Sheet”
97milk.com: “Whole Milk Facts”
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: “Dairy Milk Isn’t Healthy”
lancasterfarming.com: “Debate Surrounds Nutrition of Full-Fat Milk”
WSJ.com: “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”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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?

Ideas for Teachers for December 2023

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Minimum Wage

Congress.gov: S.2488, “Raise the Wage Act of 2023”
ProCon.org: “Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Increased?”
U.S. Department of Labor: “History of Changes to the Minimum Wage Law”
Wharton School, University of PA: “Why Raising Minimum Wage Has Long-Term Costs”
CommonDreams.org: “Sanders, Scott Unveil $17 Federal Minimum Wage Bill”
RaisetheMinimumWage.com: “Why the U.S. Needs at least a $17 Minimum Wage”

Issue 2: Secure the Border Act

Congress.gov: S.2824, “Secure the Border Act of 2023”
U.S. Congressional Budget Office: “H.R.2, Secure the Border Act of 2023”
Senate.gov: “Cruz Introduces Senate Companion to House-Passed Secure Border Act”
WhiteHouse.gov: “Statement of Administration Policy – Secure the Border Act 2023”
WaPo OpEd, Fareed Zakaria: “Democrats Should Admit They’re Wrong on Immigration”
ImmigrationForum.org: “Bill Analysis — Secure the Border Act of 2023”
House.gov: “Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart Introduces ‘Secure the Border Act 2023’”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Minimum Wage

  1. Do you support or oppose gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $17 an hour? If you were speaking to a person who disagreed with your position, what would you say to persuade them to see your side of the issue?
  2. Some proponents of raising the federal minimum wage say the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour traps people in poverty. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  3. If you were a business owner, would you want the minimum wage to increase? Why or why not?
  4. What is your personal view on whether to raise the federal minimum wage? Use relevant reasons from your life experiences as well as research.
  5. Who bears the costs of a higher minimum wage? (Hint: In addition to businesses who have higher labor costs, this could also include workers who suffer reduced hours as well as young job seekers who find it difficult to find a job.)

Issue 2: Secure the Border Act

  1. Some people believe a good way to slow illegal immigration is to fine U.S. businesses who employ illegal immigrants. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  2. In Fareed Zakaria’s Op-Ed (link above), Zakaria states that to gain control of illegal immigration, the president should suspend admission of asylum seekers to the U.S. since asylum has become a way to game the system. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  3. Do you believe there is a relationship between illegal immigration and crime? Why or why not?
  4. What would happen if we erased all country borders and let people live wherever they wanted?
  5. When is immigration helpful to a country and when is it harmful?

 

 

Ideas for Teachers for November 2023

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Gas Cars vs. EVs
Congress.gov: H.R.1435, “Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act”

GASOLINE-POWERED CARS are familiar, quick to refuel, and can travel long distances between fill-ups, all of which can’t (yet) necessarily be said about electric vehicles or EVs. However, EVs offer a unique set of positives, from an inherently exhilarating drive feel to a significantly less harmful impact on the environment.

CarMax.com: “Electric Cars vs. Gas Cars: What’s the Difference?”
CarandDriver.com: “Electric Cars vs. Gas Cars: Everything You Need to Know”
Autoweek.com: “Electric Cars vs. Gas Cars Pros and Cons”
ConsumerReports.org: “Will an Electric Car Save You Money?”
EnergySage.com: “Electric Car vs. Gas Car Environmental Impact”
EPA.gov: “Electric Vehicle Myths”

Issue 2: Student Loan Debt
USAToday.com: “Student Loan Forgiveness, Education Department Begins”
PBS.org: “Biden’s Student Loan Cancellation Plan Advances with Debate”
ProCon.org: “Student Loan Debt Elimination – Pros and Cons”
APNews.com: “Supreme Court Rejects Biden’s Student Loan Plan”
TheAtlantic.com: “Biden’s New Student Debt Strategy”
Center for American Progress: “What’s Next for Student Loan Borrowers?”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Gas Cars vs. EVs

  1. What are the arguments for and against Congress passing a bill to prevent states from banning the sale of gas-powered cars? Where do you stand on the issue?
  2. How important is giving American consumers the power to choose whether they will purchase a gas-powered vehicle or an electric vehicle?
  3. What factors might make electric cars more expensive than gas cars initially? What factors might make electric cars more affordable over time?
  4. Let’s compare the Tesla Model 3 (electric) to the Toyota Camry XLE (gas). Which car do you believe costs more over all (to buy and to drive) over its full lifetime? Why?
  5. What infrastructure and resources are required to support mass adoption of electric vehicles in the U.S.? Is the cost worth the investment? Why or why not?

Issue 2: Student Loan Debt

1. Supporters of the Biden administration’s efforts to forgive student loan debt say it would deliver relief to debt-burdened households and lift the economy. Opponents, however, say it’s unfair to those who avoided debt or made sacrifices so they could repay their loans. Where do you stand on the issue? Explain your position.
2. Does student debt affect you or someone you know, and if so, how? What went into the decision to take on student debt? How do you (or they) feel about the decision now?
3. Would forgiving all or part of people’s student loan debt help narrow the racial wealth gap? Why or why not?
4. Some people think student loan debt should be “forgiven” and college tuition should be paid for by the government. Who would actually pay those costs?
5. Should people who chose not to attend college be forced to pay for others’ college education? Why or why not?

 

Ideas for Teachers for October 2023

RESEARCH LINKS

AM RADIO uses amplitude modulation (AM) transmissions. AM broadcasting was established in the 1920s, and AM radio remained the primary method of broadcasting for the next 30 years until television became widespread in the 1950s.

Issue 1: AM Radio
Congress.gov: S.1669, “AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act of 2023”
Fox News: “Officials Sound Alarm on Carmakers Dropping AM Radio in New Vehicles”
The Hill: “Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Requiring AM Radios New Cars”
Inside Radio: “Farm Broadcasters Make Case For AM Radio As A Rural Life Issue”
Washington Post: “End of a Love Affair: AM Radio is Being Removed from Many Cars”
wearebroadcasters.com: “82 Million Americans Depend on AM Radio”

Issue 2: Medicare for All
Congress.gov: S.1655, “Medicare for All Act”
The Nation: “The Blind Spot in Medicare for All”
Physicians for a National Health Program: “The Medicare for All Act of 2023”
ProCon.org: “History of Universal Health Care”
NYT OpEd: “The Dangers of Medicare for All”
House.gov: “Jayapal, Dingell, Sanders Introduce Medicare for All Act of 2023”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: AM Radio

  1. What are the arguments for and against Congress requiring automakers to include AM radio in new vehicles? Decide how you stand on the issue, then see if you can argue the other side’s position.
  2. According to the Nielsen Company, AM radio listeners tend to be older (about one-third of them are over age 65). As a young person, do you think AM radio is still useful? Why or why not?
  3. Lawmakers say AM radio is a critical source for receiving broadcast emergency information. As Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) said, “When the cell phone runs out, the internet gets cut off, or the television doesn’t work because of no electricity or power to your house, you can still turn on your [car’s] AM radio.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
  4. Automakers say that cell phones are much better at broadcasting emergency alerts than AM radio. With today’s smartphones, is AM radio still necessary? Why or why not?
  5. AM radio is free to all drivers of cars that have it. Given this fact, how does AM radio compare to other modes of communication such as cell phone and internet reception?

Issue 2: Medicare for All

  1. Costs of private health care in this country have long been rising; two-thirds of bankruptcies in the U.S. are due to medical debt. Is our current health care system working for “We the People?” Why or why not?
  2. Should health care in the U.S. be a right or a privilege to citizens? Discuss.
  3. Proponents of Medicare for all say even if Americans’ federal taxes had to rise to pay for it, they would save money by no longer having to pay for employer-provided health insurance premiums, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  4. Opponents of Medicare for All say that government cannot effectively run the Postal Service or VA health system without losing money; thus, it would be a mistake to assume it could run the country’s health care system. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  5. What are the arguments for and against Congress passing a Medicare for All national health care program? Decide how you stand on the issue, then see if you can argue the other side’s position.

Ideas for Teachers for September 2023

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Supreme Court Term Limits
Congress.gov: H.R.4423 “To establish process for appointment Supreme Court Justices”
fixthecourt.com: “On Supreme Court Term Limits”

Formal group photograph of the Supreme Court as it was been comprised on June 30, 2022. Seated from left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito and Elena Kagan.
Standing from left are Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Brookings Institution: “Term limits can tackle the Supreme Court’s crisis of legitimacy”
Alliance for Citizen Engagement: “Pros, Cons of Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices”
constitutioncenter.org: “Did Founders want term limits for Supreme Court Justices?”
Louisville Political Review: “The Case Against Supreme Court Term Limits”

Issue 2: Welfare Drug Testing
Congress.gov: H.R.204 “Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients Act”
clasp.org: “Drug Testing and Public Assistance”
worldpopulationreview.com: “Welfare Drug Test States”
usatoday.com: “Viral Post Errs in List of States Requiring Drug Tests for Welfare”
legalmatch.com: “Welfare Drug Testing Legality”
Heritage Foundation: “Reforming the Food Stamp Program”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Supreme Court Term Limits

  1. Would Supreme Court term limits contradict Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which states justices shall “hold their Offices during good Behaviour?” Why or why not?
  2. Critics of Supreme Court term limits say it is an effort to grab the power Democrats have lost. How do you respond?
  3. Since the drafting of the Constitution, the legislative and executive branches of government have become more democratized. For example, senators are elected directly by voters in the states they represent. Should the judiciary undergo similar reform? Why or why not?
  4. Would term limits create a situation where justices are incentivized to rule in their self-interest during the final portion of their term to be more appealing to future employers? Why or why not?
  5. Opponents of Supreme Court term limits say unlimited judicial terms serve the goal of distancing the high court from political manipulation. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Issue 2: Welfare Drug Testing

  1. State legislators have argued that drug testing is often required by employers, so it is reasonable to also require it for welfare recipients. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  2. Drug testing welfare recipients is expensive. Do you think it is worth the cost? Why or why not?
  3. Does your state require drug testing for recipients of welfare programs like SNAP, TANF, etc.? Research the answer if you don’t know. Do you agree with your state’s policy?
  4. Do you believe the poor are more likely than other groups (such as seniors) who receive government money to use drugs? Why or why not?
  5. Proponents of drug testing welfare recipients argue that drug testing helps identify people who can benefit from substance abuse treatment. Is there a convincing link between welfare recipients and drug use? Why or why not?

 

Ideas for Teachers for May 2023

RESEARCH LINKS

THE IDEA OF THE 32-HOUR (OR FOUR-DAY) WORKWEEK has been bandied about for decades in the U.S. As far back as the 1950s, The New York Times reported that then U.S. Vice President Richard M. Nixon—a Republican—predicted the coming of the four-day or 32-hour workweek in our nation. In a Sept. 23, 1956, NYT article, reporter William M. Blair wrote, “Vice President Richard M. Nixon foresaw tonight for the ‘not too distant future’ a four-day workweek and a fuller family life for every American.”

Issue 1: 32-Hour Workweek
Congress.gov: H.R.1332 “Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act”
The Hill: “33 Companies Tested 4-day Week. None Are Planning to Switch Back”
shrm.org: “Is the 32-Hour Workweek Feasible in the US? Experts Weigh In”
New York Times: “Trial Run of 4-Day Workweek Wins Converts”
KXAN.com: “60 School Districts in Texas Have Made Switch to 4-day Weeks”
Higher Ed Dive: “Inside One College’s Move to a 4-day Workweek”

Issue 2: Gas Stoves
Congress.gov: S.240 “Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act”
U.S. Oil and Gas Association: “Hands Off My Stove”
Fox News: “Democrat Led Cities Already Moving Forward on Gas Stove Bans”
USA Today: “Gas Stove Bans Explained: Why Are They Suddenly Controversial?”
Wall Street Journal: “Banning Gas Stoves by Regulation”
Fox News: “’Hands Off My Stove:’ Group Pushes Back Against Gas Stove Bans”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: 32-Hour Workweek

  1. How do you think having a shorter workweek would affect workers’ productivity? Would it rise, fall or remain the same? Why?
  2. If your school changed to a 4-day week, how would that affect your life? For instance, you might have less time for an after-school job. What are other ways such a schedule might affect your life?
  3. How might a shorter workweek be good or bad for the environment? Explain.
  4. In Japan, Microsoft trialed a four-day workweek and saw improvements in workers’ productivity and job satisfaction. Do you think this would work in the U.S.? Why or why not?
  5. How did the COVID pandemic change American workers’ expectations about work/life balance? Explain.

Issue 2: Gas Stoves

  1. Why do you think gas stoves have become such a “hot topic?” What is the underlying issue? Explain.
  2. Regarding gas stoves, CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka, Jr. said, “Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” Republications charged that the statement was a weaponization of the federal bureaucracy. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  3. Trumka later clarified that regulations restricting gas stoves would apply to new products only (not gas stoves currently in people’s homes). Does this change your opinion? Why or why not?
  4. Read the pro/con quotes for the gas stoves issue on p. 3 of the Student Forum newsletter. Whose opinion do you agree with more? Explain why.
  5. Do you think it’s unfair to tell people which appliance they can and can’t use? Why or why not?

Ideas for Teachers for April 2023

RESEARCH LINKS

DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILD-HOOD ARRIVALS (DACA) is a deferred action policy implemented by the Obama administration in June 2012. It protects qualifying young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, temporarily shielding them from deportation and providing them work authorization with possible renewal every year (until recently, every two years).

Issue 1: Dream Act
Congress.gov: S.365 “Dream Act of 2023”
National Immigration Forum: “Bill Summary – Dream Act of 2023”
fwd.us: “Dreamers by the Numbers”
Migration Policy Institute: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Data Tools”
White House: “Statement by President Biden on Protecting Dreamers”
Heritage Foundation: “DACA May Help ‘Dreamers,’ but Illegal Immigration Hurts U.S.”

Issue 2: Universal Child Care
Congress.gov: S.388 “Child Care for Every Community Act”
Virginia Commonwealth University: “The History of Child Care in the U.S.”
NPR.org: “That Time America Paid for Universal Day Care”
Time.com: “The U.S. Almost Had Universal Child Care 50 Years Ago”
Jezebel.com: “A Brief, Shameful History of Childcare in the United States”
Rasmussen University: “Exploring the Potential Pros and Cons of Universal Pre-K”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Dream Act

What are some reasons people immigrate (legally and illegally) to the United States? What challenges might they face? Do you think their expectations for a better life are met? If not, how does this country disappoint or not live up its promise?
What do you think the U.S. government should do to address the legal status of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children?
Who are the Dreamers? What requirements must they meet to be eligible for citizenship under the Dream Act?
What is the most compelling argument to pass the Dream Act? What is the most convincing reason not to?
What solutions might students offer legislators when considering the futures of young people brought to the country as children?

Issue 2: Universal Child Care

Do you think that U.S. taxpayers should fund the cost of childcare for working families? Why or why not?
Should child care be left to individual parents and families, or is it a broader, societal issue? Explain.
Do you think that child care workers should be paid more for the work they do? Why or why not?
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said, “It’s impossible to have a strong economy when it’s too expensive to work because of child care.” Do you agree with her statement? Why or why not?
How might a lack of access to high quality and affordable child care impact working women more so than working men? What are the implications for gender inequality?

Ideas for Teachers for March 2023

RESEARCH LINKS

THE STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE (SPR) is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil. Administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, these federally owned oil stocks are stored in massive underground salt domes (or caverns) along the Texas and Louisiana coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico.

Issue 1: Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Congress.gov: H.R.21 “Strategic Production Response Act”
U.S. Department of Energy: “Strategic Petroleum Reserve Quick Facts”
WaPo: “What Is the Strategic Oil Reserve and Can It Lower Prices?”
Axios.com: “How the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Works”
Politico.com OpEd: “Tapping the Oil Reserve Is Bad Policy”
WSJ.com: “Why Is Biden Tapping the SPR and Will It Bring Lower Gas Prices?”

Issue 2: D.C. Statehood

Congress.gov: S.51 “Washington, D.C. Admission Act”
Brennan Center for Justice: “D.C. Statehood Explained”
Senate.gov: Hearing, Cato Institute Statement – “Examining D.C. Statehood”
statehoodresearchdc.org: “Democracy Deferred: D.C.’s Two-Century Struggle”
League of Women Voters: “FAQs About Statehood for the People of D.C.”
Politico: “Your All-Purpose Wonk’s Guide to Why D.C. Statehood Is So Hard”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Strategic Petroleum Reserve

1. President Biden’s recent release of oil from the SPR succeeded in reducing the cost of gasoline for Americans. Yet the SPR has dropped to its lowest level since 1985 in less than a year. Did Biden make the right decision? Why or why not?
2. The SPR wasn’t technically designed to help the U.S. government manage the price consumers pay for gasoline, but it has been used that way by multiple administrations. Does this make it “okay” for administrations to tap into it for that purpose?
3. H.R.21 limits the drawdown of petroleum in the SPR until the Department of Energy develops a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production. Should alternatives to oil and gas production, such as renewable energy options, also be considered as solutions? Why or why not?
4. Is releasing emergency oil reserves when there are no fuel shortages or lines at the pump worth what might come next? Is the benefit to the American public worth the risk?
5. What is your perception of President Biden’s motives for tapping the SPR to lower gas prices? Are his intentions politically motivated? Why or why not?

Issue 2: D.C. Statehood

1. How do you think the inclusion of D.C. as a state might impact the future of the country?
2. D.C. citizens pay high taxes but do not have representation in Congress. Is statehood the right solution to this problem? Why or why not?
3. If admitted, D.C. would have the highest proportion of Black residents of any state. Does this fact make D.C. statehood a civil rights issue? Why or why not?
4. What do you think? Should D.C. become a state? Explain your reasoning.
5. What are the arguments for and against D.C. statehood? Which do you believe are the strongest, and which are weaker?

Ideas for Teachers for February 2023

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: TikTok Ban

SINCE ITS LAUNCH, TIKTOK has become a popular meeting place for under-25-year-olds, but recently the social media app is the subject of a slew of state bans and a U.S. national security probe.

Congress.gov: “S.5245 – ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act”
Rubio/Gallagher OpEd: “TikTok, time’s up; app should be banned in America”
WSJ.com: “Senate Passes Bill Banning TikTok From Government Devices”
Gizmodo.com: “TikTok Owner Admits Employees Accessed Data of U.S. Users”
TheHill.com: “Lawmakers introduce bill to ban TikTok in U.S.”
Reuters.com: “U.S. lawmakers unveil bipartisan bid to ban China’s TikTok”
TheGuardian.com: “Revealed: How TikTok censors videos don’t please China”

Issue 2: Cryptocurrency
Congress.gov: “S.4760 Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act of 2022”
Overview: “The Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act Closes Gaps”
Marketplace.org: “Your questions about cryptocurrency answered”
cnbc.com: “Congress considers crypto consumer protection bill SBF backed”
Thomsonreuters.com: “Why the crypto economy needs stricter regulations”
coinmarketcap.com: “Impact of FTX’s Collapse Will Go Beyond Its Customers”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: TikTok Ban

  1. 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 with malevolent motives?
  2. Should TikTok be banned in the U.S.? Why or why not? If not, what alternative solutions do you suggest?
  3. U.S. lawmakers fear TikTok has become a tool for the dissemination of Chinese propaganda. In fact, sources have claimed that the Islamic State is posting propaganda on the app. Do these facts change your opinion of the situation? Why or why not?
  4. 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?
  5. The app contains a great deal of private information about American users and this information is stored offshore. Is TikTok a threat to national security? 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?

Issue 2: Cryptocurrency

  1. Some people believe that cryptocurrencies such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are the new financing of the future. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  2. Certain lawmakers, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), say cryptocurrencies need more regulation. What are the concerns about regulation, or lack thereof, and what do you think needs to be done?
  3. Warren says digital currency is not a “good way to buy and sell things and not a good investment and is an environmental disaster.” Is she correct?
  4. Should cryptocurrencies have to abide by the same regulations as securities, or should new rules be devised?
  5. Given the current lack of regulations on cryptocurrencies, would you feel safe investing all or part of your savings in it? Why or why not?

Ideas for Teachers for December 2022

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Social Media
Medium.com OpEd: “Section 230 – Mend It, Don’t End It”
National Review: “Elon Musk and the Third Era of Social Media”
“Communications Decency Act Pros and Cons”
Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act”
Lawfare Blog: “Supreme Court … Gonzalez v. Google and Twitter v. Taamneh”
NPR: “Democrats Hold Social Media Companies Responsible Health Misinformation”

Issue 2: Minimum Wage
Congress.gov: “H.R.603 – Raise the Wage Act of 2021”
House.gov: “Top Democrats Introduce Bill Raising Minimum Wage to $15 by 2025”
Senate.gov: “Raise the Wage Act of 2021 Fact Sheet”
Department of Labor: “History of Changes to the Minimum Wage Law”
Economic Policy Institute: “Why America Needs a $15 Minimum Wage”
raisetheminimumwage.com: “Letter to Congress Support Raising Minimum Wage”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Social Media

  1. If the government were to have censorship authority over social media platforms, would that result in the protection of Americans’ rights or loss of them? Explain your reasoning.
  2. In your own experience with social media, have you encountered rude or abusive behavior from others? If so, what do you think is a good solution to this problem?
  3. Should the social media platform itself be responsible for the comments of users? Why or why not?
  4. How does the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment protect free speech in the U.S.?
  5. Do you believe Section 230’s protections for big tech companies need to be revised? How would you revise them?

Issue 2: Minimum Wage

  1. Do you support or oppose raising the federal minimum wage? If you were speaking to a person who disagreed, what is the strongest argument in support of your position?
  2. If you were a business owner, would you want the minimum wage to increase? Why or why not?
  3. What are two arguments against raising the minimum wage? What are two arguments in favor of raising the minimum wage?
  4. How would a minimum-wage worker’s life be changed as a result of lifting the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour?
  5. Places like New York, Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle have raised the minimum wage in their cities. Why do you think these places have raised their municipal minimum wage?

Ideas for Teachers for November 2022 Issues

RESEARCH LINKS

Issue 1: Student Loan Debt

STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS in the United States owe a collective nearly $1.75 trillion in federal and private student loan debt as of August 2022, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Congress.gov: H.R.8729 “Debt Cancellation Accountability Act of 2022”
Congress.gov: S.4483 “Debt Cancellation Accountability Act of 2022”
whitehouse.gov: “President Biden Announces Student Loan Relief 4 Borrowers”
GOP House.gov: “Biden’s Student Loan Giveaway to the Wealthy”
GOP House.gov: “CBO: Biden’s Biggest Executive Actions Come with Price Tag”
Wall Street Journal: “Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan to Cancel Debt”
Associated Press: “GOP states sue Biden administration over student loan plan”

Issue 2: Puerto Rico Statehood
Congress.gov: H.R.8393 “Puerto Rico Status Act”
House.gov: “Chair Grijalva Introduces Historic Puerto Rico Status Act”
LatinoRebels.com: “Puerto Rico Status Act Stalls in House, ‘Outside Interests’”
House.gov: “Rep. García’s Statement on His Vote on the Puerto Rico Status Act”
PuertoRicoReport.com: “Supporters Rally for the Puerto Rico Status Act”
CRS: “Statehood Process + Political Status of U.S. Territories”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Issue 1: Student Loan Debt

  1. Should any student debt be canceled? If so, who is “deserving” of cancellation, and on what timeline?
  2. If all future students were provided with a pathway to a debt-free public college going forward, does that make student debt cancellation more or less reasonable?
  3. Why is the question over forgiving federal student loan debt so controversial?
  4. How have the opportunities in the job market for someone with a degree changed in the last 10 to 50 years?
  5. Is it important to have a significant number of young people attend college, including young people that are going to require loans to afford college?

Issue 2: Puerto Rico Statehood

  1. Do you support or oppose H.R.8393? If you were speaking to a person who disagreed with you, what would you say is the strongest argument in support of your position?
  2. Should Puerto Rico be granted statehood? Why or why not?
  3. What other policies could mitigate the problems seen by proponents of statehood? Explain your answer(s).
  4. Should any or all of the other U.S. territories be granted statehood? Why or why not?
  5. What other measures might be considered, if any, to resolve Puerto Ricans’ lack of representation in Congress, citizenship, and other concerns?