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Archive for the ‘SIRS Knowledge Source’ Category

Leading Issues in the News: Protests in Sports

Washington Redskins Kneel During the National Anthem

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the beginning of the 2016 NFL preseason, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ignited a firestorm of controversy by sitting down during the national anthem. He explained his reason for sitting as follows, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” In the 49ers final preseason game, Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem instead of sitting as a way to show more respect to military members while still protesting the anthem. Throughout the 2016 season, several NFL players joined Kaepernick in “taking a knee” during the anthem.

The protests became more widespread at the start of the 2017 season after President Donald Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. In the games following Trump’s comments, more than 200 players kneeled while other teams linked arms in solidarity.

The protests are not confined to just the NFL. Soccer players and WNBA players have protested by kneeling or by staying in the locker room during the national anthem. Major league baseball player Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics knelt during the anthem, while NHL player J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning raised his fist while standing on the bench during the national anthem.

Although the protests have generated controversy, they have also started conversations over racial discrimination, police brutality and freedom of expression.

This is not the first time athletes have used the world of sports to make a stand over social issues.

Protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics

Extending gloved hands skyward in racial protest, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City on Oct. 16, 1968. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman is at left. (AP Photo) (Credit: Public Domain)

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised a fist while the national anthem played during their medal ceremony. The gesture was viewed as a “Black Power” salute and became front page news around the globe. The athletes stated they were there to express African-American strength and unity, protest black poverty, and remember victims of lynching.

On October 17, 1968, the International Olympic Committee convened and determined that Smith and Carlos were to be stripped of their medals for violating the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.

Forty-nine years later, that moment at the Olympics continues to reverberate through sports.

Learn more about the current national anthem protests as well as the historical context by visiting SIRS Issues Researcher and eLibrary. Not a customer? Free trials are available.

Recent Supreme Court Decisions Offer Primary Sources on Leading Issues

Educators, do you and your students need primary source materials on current controversial social issues? Look no further than SIRS Knowledge Source’s U.S. Supreme Court feature. SIRS editors hand-select Supreme Court decisions based on their relevance to student research and support of SIRS Leading Issues. Users can access Supreme Court cases via the Supreme Court feature in the Government Reporter product, or in the Advanced Search feature in SIRS Knowledge Source by choosing the Primary Sources tab in article results (All available primary sources will appear in the search results).

SIRS Knowledge Source Advanced Search Screenshot via SIRS Issues Researcher

The Court’s most recent term, which concluded the last week of June, saw quite a few compromise decisions since the Court operated without a ninth justice for most of the term. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, the Court was left with only eight justices for 14 months while the White House and Congress battled over its membership. But in April, President Donald Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed and joined the Court to create a conservative majority.

Current Supreme Court Justices. Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Back row: Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. (Credit: Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States) [public domain]

While there were not a lot of high-profile cases, the Court nevertheless handed down some important decisions involving freedom of religion, gay rights, capital punishment, treatment of prisoners, property rights, free speech, child protection laws and election law. Below we highlight some of the decisions from this term, and their relevance to SIRS Leading Issues topics.

* Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools (Feb. 22, 2017): The Court ruled in a case involving the use of a service dog by a child with cerebral palsy that a student or their family can sue a school district over a disability issue without exhausting all administrative procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

(Related Leading Issue: Education Policy)

* Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 (March 22, 2017): The Court decided that schools can’t settle for minimal academic progress by students with disabilities.

(Related Leading Issues: Autism, Education Policy)

* Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. (March 22, 2017): The Court determined that designs on cheerleading uniforms can be protected by copyright law.

(Related Leading Issues: Cheerleading, Copyright Infringement, Sports)

* Moore v. Texas (March 28, 2017): The Court ruled that the outdated medical standards used by the state of Texas to determine that a convicted murderer was not intellectually disabled and thus eligible for execution violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, as well as Supreme Court precedent.

(Related Leading Issues: Capital Punishment, Treatment of Prisoners, Mental Health)

* Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman (March 29, 2017) The Court decided that the New York General Business Law was not unconstitutionally vague under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Speech)

* Cooper v. Harris (May 22, 2017): The Court determined that North Carolina’s new congressional districting plan constituted an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

(Related Leading Issues: Racial Discrimination, Elections, Government Ethics)

* Sessions v. Morales-Santana (June 12, 2017): The Court determined that disparate citizenship rules for children of unwed mothers and fathers violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

(Related Leading Issues: Illegal Immigration, Immigration)

* Matal v. Tam (June 19, 2017): The Court ruled that the government can’t reject trademarks that might be disparaging or offensive to some people.

(Related Leading Issues: Controversial Mascots, Ethnic Relations, Freedom of Speech)

* McWilliams v. Dunn (June 19, 2017): The Court decided that an indigent defendant whose competence is a significant issue at trial is entitled to a psychiatric expert, who is independent of the prosecution.

(Related Leading Issues: Criminal Justice, Death Penalty/Capital Punishment, Mental Health)

* Packingham v. North Carolina (June 19, 2017) The Court ruled that the North Carolina law prohibiting registered sex offenders from accessing various websites, where minors are known to be active and have accounts, regardless of whether or not the sex offender directly interacted with a minor, violates the First Amendment.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Speech, Social media, Child protection laws, Convicted felons)

* Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer (June 26, 2017) The Court decided that the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion.

(Related Leading Issues: Freedom of Religion, Church and State) 

* Pavan v. Smith (June 26, 2017) The Court ruled that an Arkansas statute that precludes both names of a same-sex married couple from being listed as parents on a child’s birth certificate is an unconstitutional discrimination, considering the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which legalized same-sex marriage.

(Related Leading Issues: Gay Liberation Movement, Same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, Human Reproductive Technology) 

U.S. Supreme Court Conference Room via U.S. Supreme Court [public domain]

Each case in SIRS Knowledge Source’s U.S. Supreme Court feature includes a full-text PDF version of the opinion, as well as a concise and easy-to-understand summary explaining the question before the Court and its decision. Cases can be browsed by subject heading, topic, by Constitutional Article and Amendment, or alphabetically. You can also find biographical information on current and past justices, a reference article that explains the role of the Supreme Court and its history, a full-text version of the U.S. Constitution with amendments and historical notes, a list of supplementary references for students and educators, and more.

The Supreme Court’s upcoming term for 2017-2018 began on October 2, and the justices have already agreed to hear 33 cases. These cases involve immigration (President Trump’s controversial travel ban); more gay rights issues (a showdown between religious freedom and state anti-discrimination laws); government surveillance (the use of cell phone location records by police without a warrant); election law (a state’s attempt to clean up its voter rolls, and another election redistricting case); and gambling (sports betting at casinos and racetracks); among others.

Stay tuned for decisions in these important cases, and keep SIRS Knowledge Source in mind when you need easy access to primary source material for lesson plans or student research.

Don’t have SIRS Knowledge Source at your school or library? Free trials are available.

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What are you celebrating today?

Christopher Columbus photo via Wikimedia, indigenous Guatemalan girls photo via CultureGrams.

 

Today, or on a day soon to come this month, countries throughout the Western hemisphere will mark some aspect of the European encounter with the Americas. Which aspect they choose to celebrate depends on their perspective. And in fact some cities within the same country (namely the U.S.) will be celebrating under different titles.

In many Latin American countries, this October holiday is called Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in an effort to highlight the indigenous cultures Columbus encountered when he arrived in the Americas. However, some indigenous groups, such as those in Chile, find nothing to celebrate on this day and instead call it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Indigenous Resistance Day.

Within the United States, the federal holiday is called Columbus Day, a title that, according to the New York Times, has been controversial from the start. Formally made a recurring holiday in 1934, Columbus Day began as a celebration more significant to Italian-Americans than the general population, and Italian-American groups today still advocate for the holiday to be called Columbus Day. As the figure of Columbus broadened to represent general European settlement of the Americas, resistance to the holiday deepened. As one Christian Science Monitor article (available via SIRS) put it, “For many native Americans, Columbus is a symbol of European colonialism, enabling widespread destruction of indigenous cultures and its people and paving the way for rampant oppression and forced relocation.” In response, many states with high native populations stopped celebrating Columbus Day and some cities and states added “Indigenous People’s Day” to the holiday name or changed the name entirely. Today only 25 states in all observe the holiday.

However, shifting the celebration from Columbus to the people he and other Europeans colonized is not itself without controversy. Last month an opinion piece (available via eLibrary) in The Weekly Standard argued that “up until fairly recently the European discovery of the Americas was regarded as a milestone in Western civilization . . .” The author also likened Columbus Day to other U.S. holidays that are outdated but “represent the great American habits of adaptation and historical amnesia.”

So what is the holiday called where you live today? Or is it considered a holiday at all? And do you agree with that status or name? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, check out more Columbus Day/Día de la Raza/Indigenous People’s Day articles and information in CultureGrams, SIRS, and eLibrary!

TDIH: Thurgood Marshall Confirmed to the Supreme Court

“I believe he earned his appointment. He deserves the appointment. He’s the best qualified by training and by very valuable service to the country. I believe it’s the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man, and the right place.”–President Lyndon Johnson, on nominating Thurgood Marshall to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court

“There is very little truth in the old refrain that one cannot legislate equality. Laws not only provide concrete benefits; they can even change the hearts of men–some men anyway–for good or for evil.”Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall (on telephone), President Lyndon B. Johnson, 6/13/1967
by Yoichi R. Okamoto/White House Photograph Office
via National Archives [public domain]

Fifty years ago today, August 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court was confirmed by the Senate, making him the first African American to serve as a Justice on the highest court in the land. Marshall had a lasting and significant impact on civil rights in the United States. He argued and won cases, and later wrote opinions from the bench that changed the nation’s laws on segregation and racial injustice.

Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 2, 1908, the great-grandson of a slave. He attended the racially segregated public schools there graduating from high school in 1925, then went on to the historically black Lincoln University in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, graduating with honors in 1930. He then applied to the all-white University of Maryland Law School but was denied admission because he was Black. This event went on to direct his future professional life. He was accepted at another historically black school–Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., that same year. He received his law degree in 1933, graduating first in his class (magna cum laude).

Between 1934 and 1961, as an attorney for the NAACP, Marshall traveled throughout the United States, representing clients in many different disputes involving questions of racial justice. Marshall’s first major civil rights case came in 1936 when he successfully sued the University of Maryland for their unfair admissions policy. Murray v. Pearson was the first in a long line of cases designed to undermine the legal basis for racial segregation in the United States.

He argued thirty-two cases before the Supreme Court, more than anyone else in history, and won an astounding twenty-nine of them. His first victory at the high court was in 1940. Chambers v. Florida demonstrated that police brutality and coerced confessions were a violation of the 14th Amendment’s right to due process. Other notable cases were Smith v. Allwright (1944), which invalidated the so-called white primary (the practice of barring blacks from the Democratic party primary in a state where that party controlled state government), Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), which prohibited state courts from enforcing racially restrictive real estate covenants, and the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which invalidated state-enforced racial segregation in the public schools.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where he wrote over 150 decisions. None of his 98 majority decisions were ever reversed by the Supreme Court.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson named him Solicitor General of the United States, another racial first. The Solicitor General represents the U.S. when it is sued by a corporation or an individual. He served until 1967, when Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, winning 14 of the 19 cases he argued.

In his 24 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Marshall was an outspoken liberal on a Court dominated by conservatives, often voting in the minority. He consistently voted to uphold gender and racial affirmative action policies. He also dissented in every case that the Court refused to overturn a death sentence, as well as opposing all efforts to limit abortion rights. He believed that the Constitution requires the government to provide certain benefits to everyone–including education, legal services and access to the courts–regardless of their ability to pay for them. He succeeded in fashioning new protections under the law for women, children, homeless persons, and prisoners.

On June 27, 1991, Marshall announced his intention to retire from the Court. President George H.W. Bush nominated 43-year-old Black conservative Clarence Thomas to replace him a week later. Marshall died of heart failure in Bethesda, Maryland on January 24, 1993, at the age of 84.

To learn more about Justice Marshall, navigate to these websites available on SIRS Knowledge Source:

Justice for All: The Legacy of Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall Before the Court

Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

Or direct your students to the SIRS Knowledge Source feature on the U.S. Supreme Court. Students can browse editorially-selected cases by Constitutional Articles & Amendments, or by Topic. This feature includes a list of Landmark Cases by category, profiles of the current Justices, as well as biographical information on all the Justices who have served on the Court throughout history, including Justice Marshall. A glossary, a graphic that explains how the Court is organized, supplementary references with links to related articles in the product, and a link to the official U.S. Supreme Court website are also provided. An additional link includes the text of the U.S. Constitution.

Don’t have SIRS Knowledge Source at your school or library? Free trials are available.

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12 Years Later: Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Twelve years ago, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. Nearly 93,000 square miles were impacted by Katrina. 138 counties and parishes were affected by the storm. New Orleans, Louisiana, Gulfport, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama were among the devastated cities that bore the brunt of Katrina’s destruction. The 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is a great opportunity for educators to help students learn about one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

People sit on a roof waiting to be rescued after Hurricane Katrina.

People sit on a roof waiting to be rescued after Hurricane Katrina.
By Jocelyn Augustino / FEMA (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

To commemorate the anniversary, here are 10 facts about Hurricane Katrina:

1. Hurricane Katrina struck Florida first.

On August 23, 2005, a tropical depression developed in the Bahamas. The tropical depression intensified into Tropical Storm Katrina the next day. On August 25th, Katrina made landfall in South Florida between North Miami Beach and Hallandale Beach as a Category 1 hurricane, with wind speeds of approximately 80 mph.

2. Hurricane Katrina became a Category 5 storm on August 28, 2005.

After crossing over Florida, Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of approximately 175 mph.

3. The first-ever mandatory evacuation for New Orleans was issued on August 28, 2005.

The day before Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered the first-ever mandatory evacuation of the city. It is estimated that about 80% of the city’s residents evacuated. Residents who lacked transportation were urged to go to the Superdome, a domed sports venue and home of the New Orleans Saints. The stadium was to be used as a “shelter of last resort” for people unable to evacuate the city. Approximately 26,000 people sought refuge in the Superdome. Unfortunately, the stadium, which became synonymous with the misery of Hurricane Katrina, was undersupplied and understaffed–demonstrating how woefully unprepared local, state, and federal government officials were for the catastrophic event.

4. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005.

On Monday, August 29, 2005, Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane near Buras, Louisiana, with winds estimated at 125 mph. Katrina continued northward and made its final landfall as a Category 3 hurricane near the Louisiana/Mississippi border with winds estimated at 120 mph.

5. Approximately 80% of New Orleans was underwater.

Much of the damage and devastation from Hurricane Katrina was due to the storm surge. Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge overwhelmed the levee system built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the city from flooding. The flooding was so extensive in low-lying areas like the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish that people climbed to rooftops for safety.

6. Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and the third deadliest hurricane in U.S. history.

The storm caused an estimated $108 billion in damage and resulted in 1,833 fatalities, according to CNN. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has described Hurricane Katrina as the “single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history.”

7. Hurricane Katrina displaced more than one million people in the Gulf Coast region.

Hurricane evacuee shelters accommodated 273,000 people at their peak. FEMA trailers were used to house approximately 114,000 households. Up to 600,000 households remained displaced a month after the storm.

8. New Orleans lost more than half of its population.

The population of New Orleans decreased from 484,674 in April 2000 to approximately 230,172 in July 2006, almost a year after Hurricane Katrina. By 2015, the city’s population was at 80% of what it was before Katrina in 2000.

9. Hurricane Katrina damaged over one million housing units across the Gulf Coast.

Approximately half of the damaged housing units were in Louisiana. 134,000 housing units in New Orleans were damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flooding.

10. Post-Katrina, the federal government has spent $120.5 billion on the Gulf Coast region.

$75 billion of that money was used for emergency relief operations.

For more information on Hurricane Katrina, check out these related resources available through ProQuest eLibrary and ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher.

Hurricane Katrina (2005) Research Topic

Hurricanes Research Topic

In Depth: Hurricane Katrina

Storm That Drowned a City

Let’s Debate…Federal Funding of the Arts

Federal funding of the arts–which encompasses visual art, performing arts, cultural events and programming, public television, public radio, and more–has been a politically debated issue for decades. Want to learn more about both sides? Check out the infographic below. Then explore more by visiting SIRS Researcher‘s new Leading Issue Public Funding of the Arts.

 

SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

Back-to-School for Educators: ProQuest Is Here to Help

Are you ready to make or finalize lesson plans? Have you made your school year shopping trip yet? Do you know how you want to decorate your classroom? Educators have so much to do before the school year starts let alone during it. While there’s a lot to think about, having helpful tools ready to go and a checklist of what you need to do can make it easier. The ProQuest story is to curate enriching content, simplify workflows for our customers and connect with our vast community of educators, researchers, and librarians. As an editor that works on the Guided Research products, my department works hard to not just do all of the above but also to create new ideas and content that help students grow and thrive in K12 plus preparing for what comes after. Our editors do the research to come up with new Leading Issues and create them from beginning to end. We create new product features and curate the content that’s highlighted and we make sure our customers feel connected.

Simplifying an Educator’s School Year

Curating and Creating Content for All Researchers

SIRS Discoverer

Animal Facts and Pro/Con Leading Issues are two product features in SIRS Discoverer that were created in-house.

In collaboration with product management, Content Editor, Senior Jen Oms came up with the idea for Animal Facts and Content Editor, Senior Ilana Cohen came up with the idea for Pro/Con Leading Issues. Jen and Ilana both explained why they wanted these two features in SIRS Discoverer.

Before Animal Facts was created, Jen knew it was a feature SIRS Discoverer needed. She said the product had articles about animals, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to simplify the time and process kids would have to go through to learn all the key facts on their favorite animals. She also wanted such a feature to complement the product. She knew SIRS Discoverer had articles on tigers for example. She wanted there to be an Animal Fact page for tigers too. Jen collaborated with another colleague Michelle Sneiderman to create what is now totaled at over 300 Animal Facts (with more being added). They modeled the idea on a 1-page table style of animal characteristics, conservation status and additional information like fun facts. Jen also said one of the main sources used to create Animal Facts came right from the encyclopedia content in SIRS Discoverer. Jen wanted Animal Facts to be robust and it is one of the most popular features in the SIRS Discoverer product.

Bobcat Animal Fact via SIRS Discoverer

Bobcat Animal Fact via SIRS Discoverer

The creation of Pro/Con Leading Issues for SIRS Discoverer seemed a logical decision. Ilana said it was modeled as an “entry-level pro/con research product for young audiences,” something the product didn’t have but would be beneficial. She created the initial pro/con issues and added supporting content in collaboration with a few other editors. These issues are created and updated dynamically on a yearly basis. While SIRS Issues Researcher includes main and sub-issues, SIRS Discoverer Pro/Con Leading Issues only contains main issues. It currently has 60 Pro/Con Leading Issues that students can choose from, and Ilana explained her process for choosing new ones to create includes looking at existing content and search reports. This feature also includes a Visual Literacy asset which presents a cartoon and pairs it with critical thinking questions. Pro/Con Leading Issues is also one of the most popular features in the SIRS Discoverer product.

Pro/Con Leading Issues via SIRS Discoverer

Pro/Con Leading Issues via SIRS Discoverer

SIRS Issues Researcher

Visual literacy, information literacy, and critical thinking are three skills the Guided Research products help build. SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issues are created in-house. Editors curate the content to support them that students can debate and discuss in and out of the classroom.

Recently, I worked with my colleague Jeff Wyman to make it possible for our editorial team to create charts and statistics in-house. Sometimes our content providers lack this and we wanted a way for ProQuest editors to fill the gap when it happens. Knowing how to read charts is a skill that students can continue to develop as they advance in their research and go on to college.

EU Favorability Chart Created by ProQuest Staff

EU Favorability Chart Created by ProQuest Staff

SIRS Issues Researcher also includes Curriculum Guides that are helpful in building information literacy, visual literacy, critical thinking, and research skills. These guides help students understand editorial cartoons, infographics, primary sources, research, statistics and writing arguments.

Both Leading Issues and the skills they support drive the ProQuest story. We simplify educators’ workflows and not just curate, but create too. SIRS Issues Researcher delves into the heart of the issues affecting people all around the world every day. It gives students the chance to explore topics they may have never thought of before and think critically about them.

Connecting with Customers and Our Community

ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to learn information and media literacy skills. Free trials are available.

Find us on Facebook or Tweet us @ProQuest. We love our customers to reach out and say hello!

Let’s Debate…Education Reform

Education reform, particularly federal spending on public education, has been a political hot-button issue since the 1960s. Questions that were asked then are the same that are debated now: Do the funds provided by the Department of Education improve students’ learning environments and opportunities, or do they simply allow states to decrease money allocated to education? Does federal funding advance education in public schools, or does it stifle public schools with regulations and oversight?

Check out Let’s Debate…Education Reform below for an overview of the topic. Also visit the SKS Spotlight of the Month, which explores the 2017-2018 National High School Debate Topic: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

 

Summer Reading: 5 YA Fiction Titles to Help Students with Controversial Issues

This summer, have your students read Young Adult (YA) fiction to help them understand controversial issues.

“Based on our own experience, we believe that emotion — for good or bad — is a key element of how many arguments are made in the world.”–Larry Ferlazzo, “Common Core Writing and ELLs”

Reviewed YA Books Featured on the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog (School Library Journal)

Students struggle to understand and write about controversial issues. This is where the power of story found in YA fiction can help. And summer is a perfect opportunity for students to read. Reading tears down walls by exposing students to the diverse perspectives and emotions of fictional characters who are dealing with controversial issues. After reading a compelling narrative over the summer, students will be better prepared for research and argumentative writing on controversial issues.

Here are five recent YA fiction titles with a narrative related to a SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue:

1. Other Breakable Things by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood
Assisted Suicide Leading Issue

Assisted Suicide Leading Issues in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description: “According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing. Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her. Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again. And now it is. Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn. And she’s not giving up so easily. A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be. Right down to the thousandth paper crane.”

 

2. Internet Famous by Danika Stone
Social Media Leading Issue

Social Media Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description:“Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. And now Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!), has started flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies…Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s ‘real life’ hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything—and everyone—she loves?”

 

3. Factory Girl by Josanne La Valley
Sweatshops Leading Issue

Sweatshops Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description: “In order to save her family’s farm, Roshen, sixteen, must leave her rural home to work in a factory in the south of China. There she finds arduous and degrading conditions and contempt for her minority (Uyghur) background. Sustained by her bond with other Uyghur girls, Roshen is resolved to endure all to help her family and ultimately her people. A workplace survival story, this gritty, poignant account focuses on a courageous teen and illuminates the value—and cost—of freedom. ”

 

4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Police and Body Cameras and Racial Discrimination Leading Issues

Police and Body Cameras Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description: “Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.”

 

5. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Illegal Immigration Leading Issue

Illegal Immigration Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description: “On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?”

All titles are linked to reviews by the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog (School Library Journal).

SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

Summer Learning: Celebrate Great Outdoors Month

Summer is a wonderful opportunity for learning in the great outdoors. June is recognized as Great Outdoors Month. In 1998, President Clinton established Great Outdoors Week to celebrate America’s natural treasures. The week-long celebration was expanded by President George W. Bush in 2004 when he issued the first Presidential Proclamation designating the entire month of June as Great Outdoors Month. This recognition emphasizes the benefits of outdoor recreation and encourages Americans to enjoy our magnificent public lands and waterways. The annual tradition has continued under the Obama administration. In 2015, proclamations were issued by all 50 governors declaring June as Great Outdoors Month.

Hikers on the North Inlet Trail

Hikers on the North Inlet Trail
By Brian & Jaclyn Drum (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Exciting events occurring during Great Outdoors Month include National Trails Day, National Fishing & Boating Week, National Get Outdoors Day, National Marina Day, and the Great American Campout. Great Outdoors Month reminds people to take the time to appreciate the natural beauty around us. If you are interested in getting outside and reconnecting with nature, here are some ways to celebrate Great Outdoors Month.

Plan a camping trip, take a hike, go rock climbing and horseback riding. Watch wildlife. You don’t have to go far to enjoy the great outdoors. Walk or jog in a neighborhood park. Ride a bicycle. Have a picnic or barbecue in your own backyard. Plant a garden. If you like the water, beaches, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls are great places for outdoor activities. Go boating, fishing, swimming, diving, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. Visit a national or state park.

I love exploring national parks. I’ve visited some of the most popular ones, including the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. National parks offer visitors stunning landscapes, breathtaking views, and an opportunity to view wildlife in their natural habitat. National parks are amazing and I hope someday I’ll be able to visit all of them, but my favorite park is not a national park, it’s a state park on the central coast of California.

Often overshadowed by national parks, I believe state parks are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a perfect example. Point Lobos may not get as much attention as Yosemite, but in my opinion, it is the most beautiful place in the world. Many beautiful state parks—like Point Lobos are exceptional for hiking, photography, sightseeing, and observing wildlife.

eLibrary contains many resources related to national and state parks. If you want to learn more about America’s national parks, click here. If you want to find more information about state parks, perform a basic search in eLibrary by typing in the name of a state followed by parks. When I was planning a trip to Utah and wanted to know more about Utah’s state parks. I typed in Utah parks and I retrieved this Research Topic page in the results list Utah Forests & Parks.

How will you and your students explore learning outside during Great Outdoors Month? Check out the following SIRS WebSelect and ProQuest eLibrary resources to get some ideas about how you can enjoy outdoor recreation.

Camping Research Topic

Hiking Research Topic

National Park Service

National Park Service Research Topic

National Parks Research Topic

The National Parks: America’s Best Ideas

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