Social Studies

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Connection Challenge: Building Stronger, Safer Communities | PBS NewsHour

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Inspired by Parkland students, three schools across the U.S. participated in the Connection Challenge as a way to step out of their comfort zones and connect with other young people at school with whom they wouldn’t normally interact. PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs teamed up with Snapchat on April 20th, the day of the National School Walkout, to cover the event.

Watch the video and answer the discussion questions in our support materials below. Your class or school may want to hold its own Connection Challenge. Check out the extension activity linked below under Follow Up.

Santa Fe Study Guide: Have School Shootings Become Part of American Culture? | PBS NewsHour

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Watch the first video, Remembering the Santa Fe Shooting Victims, to learn about the eight students and two teachers who were killed in the school shooting at Santa Fe High School on May 18, 2018 near Houston, Texas. Next, read the Associated Press (AP) story about the circumstances surrounding the shooting and answer the discussion in support materials questions below.

Then, watch the second video, Texas School Shooting Days Before Graduation Draws Governor’s Call for New Gun Laws. Consider how the words spoken by student Paige Curry relate to those spoken in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

May 22, 2018 video and resource materials from PBS NewsHour.

What Other Countries Can Teach Us About Good Schools

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This Daily News Story from PBS NewsHour Extra was created on September 25, 2013.

Despite increases in education spending and a decade of school reform, students in the United States still lag behind their peers in many other countries when it comes to math, science and reading skills.

Does Trump’s School Safety Plan Make Schools Safer? | PBS NewsHour

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On March 11, 2018, President Donald Trump shared his school safety plan, which includes arming teachers, expanding mental health, and improving the National Instant Criminal Background System. The plan does not endorse expanding background checks. Trump backpedaled on his support for raising the minimum age to buy assault weapons, and the proposed program is being criticized for not going far enough to address the problem of gun violence. Arming teachers could make schools less safe, given accuracy problems and the potential to draw more shooters to schools.

March 14, 2018 videos and resource materials from PBS NewsHour.

Senate Republicans Reveal Health Care Bill | PBS NewsHour

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After weeks of drafting in secret, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the Senate version of the health care bill public on June 22, 2017. The bill shares broad strokes with the House of Representatives bill, whose approval rating is very low. It has drawn unanimous opposition from Democrats. The Senate bill would cut Medicaid funding more gradually in the short run than the House bill, but more significantly over time. The bill waives taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act and, if implemented, would allow states to waive required coverage of essential benefits.

June 23, 2017 video and resource materials from PBS NewsHour.

What Can We Learn from the Parkland School Shooting? | PBS NewsHour

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For guidance on how to talk with students about mass shootings, you may want to read SAMHSA’s “Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers.”

A shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a northern Miami suburb, killed 17 people on February 14 in the fifth school shooting of 2018 resulting in casualties. Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student who had been expelled from Stoneman, was arrested soon after the shooting. He had legally purchased the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle used in the assault. In a national address from the White House, President Donald Trump said he wanted America’s youth to know, “You are never alone, and you never will be.” He said he plans to explore how to better secure schools and to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”

February 15, 2018 video and resource materials from PBS NewsHour.

Author Wes Moore Explores Where Two Lives Diverge

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One name, two starkly different lives - that's the real-life scenario at the heart of author Wes Moore's new book, which explores how his life diverged from that of another boy with the same name who grew up in the same inner city Baltimore neighborhood.

Olympics Spur Protests Against Russia

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Help students understand the human rights issues surrounding the Sochi Olympic Games with this PBS NewsHour video from February 5, 2014. With the start of the 2014 Winter Games only days away, the president of the International Olympic Committee insisted that all countries respect the neutral, apolitical nature of the competition. That statement comes in the wake of international furor over a recently adopted Russian law that bans so-called gay propaganda. For a unit with four lesson plans on this topic please click here.

Obama Gets Personal in Effort to Help Young Men of Color

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Use this PBS NewsHour video and teacher's guide from February 28, 2014 to engage students on the important topic of supporting young men of color.

First Women Ever Graduate from Army Ranger School

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Find out why two women graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School is significant with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from August 18, 2015. (Note: Students only need to watch the first 1:40 of the video)

Resources to Honor the Life of Poet Maya Angelou

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Renaissance woman and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has died at the age of 86. Use these educational resources from PBS NewsHour Extra to help your students honor the life of poet Maya Angelou.

Indian American Comedian Discusses Humor and Race

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Explore how one comedian uses humor as a strategy to discuss race with this PBS NewsHour video and educational materials from July 31, 2014. In an interview with Hari Sreenivasan, comedian Hari Kondabolu discusses how he uses humor to tackle the topics of racism and colonialism in his standup act.

Candidates Cite Security Qualifications after Weekend Attacks | PBS NewsHour

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Find out how the candidates responded to suspected terror attacks with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from September 19, 2016.

Education Nominee Betsy DeVos Faces Questions on School Choice | PBS NewsHour

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The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary, took place Tuesday, January 17. DeVos is a business woman from Michigan advocates for charter schools—publicly funded schools that operate independently—in her home state. DeVos believes in school choice, and endorses school vouchers to allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their children to private or religious schools, rather than the public schools for which that money is designated. Democrats are worried that Devos' support for school choice will undermine public school funding.

January 19, 2017 video and resource materials from PBS NewsHour.

How Betsy DeVos Could Reshape National Education Policy | PBS NewsHour

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The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary Tuesday, February 7. Preceding DeVos' confirmation and in the days that have followed, the Michigan philanthropist's policies have stirred significant public opposition. Audie Cornish talks with Lisa Desjardins about the resistance DeVos faced in the confirmation process. Emma Brown of the Washington Post joins in to discuss what Devos' confirmation means for U.S. policy-makers and schools.

February 7, 2017 video and resource materials from PBS NewsHour.

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