Public attitudes about crime and punishment have shifted over the past decade, including among politicians from both parties. In this lesson, students examine the move away from "tough on crime" approaches and consider new proposals for criminal justice reform that are in the spotlight during the 2020 election season.
After a series of deadly shootings this summer, lawmakers and 2020 presidential contenders are shining an intense spotlight on the issue of gun control. In this activity, students read about and discuss where President Trump and Democratic presidential candidates stand on the issue, and the role of youth activism in bringing it to the fore.
Where do the 2020 presidential candidates stand on climate change? And why is the issue getting more attention in 2020 than in past elections? Students explore the issue, the candidates, and the social movements that are helping to drive the debate through readings, discussion, and activities.
There's a hidden cost to our free accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms: our privacy. In this lesson, students learn about and discuss how corporations make a profit from our data, potential policy solutions, and how young people are making their own decisions about online privacy.
Does social media promote positive democratic debate, sow hatred, or both? Students explore whether social media has contributed to echo chambers, and hate speech — and consider options for improving public discussion on social media.
Two high-profile proposals to tax the rich are gaining attention and popular support. This activity has students explore these proposals, the historical precedent for them, and their possible benefits and pitfalls.
The Brexit controversy has roiled the U.K. for years. What is Brexit? And why has it torn British voters apart?
Students learn about and discuss the original Brexit vote, explore arguments for and against a second referendum, and examine why some people voted to back the “Remain” or “Leave” positions.
Less than half of eligible voters typically vote in national elections in the U.S.. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to encourage voter participation by making Election Day a national holiday. This activity explores the arguments for and against this and other proposals for making it easier for people to vote.
Several billionaires are thinking of running for president - and one is already in office. Is this good for democracy? In this activity, students learn about and discuss the debate over billionaire presidential candidates - and the impact of the growing wealth gap between elected leaders and the rest of us.
The economy is growing. Why aren’t people feeling it? This lesson has students examine whether the way economists measure the health of the economy actually reflects the reality Americans experience. Students explore alternative measures that some countries and states have begun to adopt aimed at better capturing the real conditions of everyday people.
50 years after the movement against the war in Vietnam reached its peak, students explore that movement - and consider why we don't have a more powerful anti-war movement today.
Does the U.S. political system live up to the principle of one person, one vote? In this lesson, students explore arguments about whether the Electoral College and the U.S. Senate might hinder the quest for fair, democratic representation.
Young people are suing the U.S. government over climate change, and their case comes before federal court on October 29, 2018. In this lesson, students examine the suit, read the personal testimony of two of the plaintiffs, and consider other strategies that young people are using to affect climate policy.
2018 is the 50th anniversary of a landmark protest at the Miss America beauty pageant. The protest was part of a new period of feminist activism—one with renewed significance in the #MeToo era. In this lesson, students learn the details of the protest using an original document and explore how the protest affected the women's liberation movement and our lives since the decades since.
Students learn about and discuss what impeachment is, how it works, and the possibility of impeachment for President Donald Trump stemming from the ongoing Department of Justice investigation.
The United States is suffering from a crisis of affordable housing. This lesson consists of two student readings on this issue. The first examines the arguments for and against Yimby-style development. The second looks at solutions that go beyond market-focused fixes, considering alternative ways to ensure that all people have access to affordable housing.
This lesson introduces students to the controversy over Justice Kennedy’s retirement and Trump’s role in reshaping the Supreme Court. The first reading reviews Kennedy’s career and highlights the significance of his role as a swing vote on the court. The second reading examines possible consequences of a Kavanaugh appointment and examines how a variety of groups are resisting Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Protests across the country reflect widespread outrage over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies. In this lesson, students learn about the controversy over the administration's policies to separate and/or detain families who are seeking to immigrate to the U.S.
This lesson uses the example of a bidding war by cities to become Amazon's second headquarters to explore the question of providing public subsidies to private companies. Students also learn about and discuss ways cities can ensure that companies like Amazon hold up their end of the bargain through strategies such as "clawback" rules and "tracking" for public subsidies.
In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, many have called for increased "school security" measures. In this lesson, students consider whether such measures make schools safer and discuss their impact on young people and the school climate.
Students learn what gerrymandering is and why it poses a problem for U.S. democracy, and consider recent attempts to combat the practice.
Fifty years after Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign, a coalition of multiracial groups has announced that it is launching a new Poor People’s Campaign aimed at addressing divisions in the United States, from racism to economic and gender inequality. In the this lesson, students learn about the original Poor People’s Campaign and the new one, and discuss how the two drives are similar and different.
The U.S. has more people detained while awaiting trial than any other country in the world. In this lesson, students explore the issue of cash bail, why some criminal justice reform advocates argue for ending it, and what has happened in cities and states that have ended cash bail.
America is in the grips of a nationwide opioid epidemic. In this lesson, students think critically about the opioid crisis, its origins, and potential solutions.
The Republicans have introduced one of the largest tax overhaul plans in many years. In this lesson, students consider what taxes do and why Americans pay them; and examine the Republicans' proposed tax reform and how analysts are projecting it will affect the country.
Threats by Donald Trump and by North Korea have stoked worries about nuclear war. In this lesson, students learn about the work of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and about past social movement campaigns that have worked to avert war and promote nuclear disarmament.
In two readings and discussion, students explore the meaning and history of DACA, including the social movement activism that won DACA during the Obama years and prospects for future action.
When President Trump announced that the U.S. would be pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, governors and mayors across the country announced that they were still on board and would continue their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this activity, students read about and discuss how cities and states are leading by example when it comes to climate change.
Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow changed the conversation about race, racism, and incarceration in this country. In this activity, students explore Alexander’s argument that our criminal justice system has relegated millions of people of color to a permanent second–class status, and examine how people are challenging the policies mass incarceration and the New Jim Crow.