COVID-19 bares U.S. healthcare flaws. Is it time for reform?

COVID-19 bares U.S. healthcare flaws. Is it time for reform?

More people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. than in any other nation. Will the suffering breathe new life into efforts to reform a flawed system? Protesters in support of a single-payer healthcare system, New York City, 24 July 2017 (EPA/JUSTIN LANE) This is the...

The U.S. healthcare system is complicated. But that did not deter Maya Barr of The Hewitt School from examining the system’s shortcomings, which have been exposed during COVID-19. For her research, Barr dug into data from the Census Bureau, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pew Research Center and Johns Hopkins, as well as reports by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the American Hospital Association. Barr weighs the pros and cons regarding a single-payer system in her balanced, forward-looking report.

The Civil Rights Movement haunts us even today

The Civil Rights Movement haunts us even today

Inspired by Black Lives Matter protests, I offer a photo essay as a haunting reminder that the fight continues decades after the Civil Rights Movement. This story won a third prize in News Decoder’s Ninth Storytelling Contest. With my photography project, I...

The Black Lives Matter movement has stirred young people around the globe and raised hopes that racism and police brutality against Blacks can be curbed. For many elders, the hopes are tinged by nagging fears that a generation from now race relations will remain strained and injustices will persist. Lucy Bird, a 17-year-old student at Westover School, captures those worries in her haunting series of photos that juxtapose iconic images from the U.S. Civil Rights Movement with glimpses from BLM protests.
Exercise: Ask your students to apply their photo skills to create a visual essay that manipulates existing photographs to capture their concerns about the future.

Caught between China and the U.S., I feel both love and guilt

Caught between China and the U.S., I feel both love and guilt

Born in China, I decided to study in the U.S. I love my home country but harbor guilt as I become less and less Chinese over time. Photo by Markus Winkler This story was a runner-up in News Decoder’s Ninth Storytelling Contest. Artist’s Statement: I grew up in...

Growing up means eventually coming to terms with one’s upbringing. Doing so can be especially challenging for young people straddling different cultures. In a five-stanza poem, Li Keira Yin of The Thacher School explores the contradictions between the world of her Chinese grandparents and her life at a boarding school in the United States. News Decoder helps young people around the world extend their horizons and learn to appreciate different viewpoints. Some have the advantage of confronting opposing outlooks at an early age, and Yin demonstrates her maturity in reconciling the inherent antagonism between her two very distinct cultures.
Exercise: Ask each student to identify a fault line within their family and to write an essay or poem that is sympathetic to each side.

How ping-pong transformed U.S.-China relations

How ping-pong transformed U.S.-China relations

Ping-pong players paved the way for a thaw in relations between China and the U.S. in the early 1970s. I witnessed this pivotal moment in history. Flanked by Chinese border officials, Glen Cowan, a member of the U.S. ping-pong team, waves to newsmen at Lowu, China,...

News Decoder’s correspondents have covered many of the biggest international stories of the past half-century, offering our students an unparalleled historical perspective on complex global events. Jonathan Sharp has tapped his rich professional adventures time and again for News Decoder, producing yarns about covering the Vietnam War and showing U.S. actress Shirley MacLaine around Beijing. In his latest article, Sharp recounts witnessing a pivotal moment in China-U.S. relations in 1971, when a team of U.S. ping-pong players visited China, paving the way to a thaw in relations between the two nations. Sharp skillfully mixes personal anecdotes with an impartial look at history to transport students born more than a generation after the “transformative moment” back in time.
Exercise: Ask each of your students to speak to at least one parent to identify a moment in their youth when they witnessed an important event. After interviewing the parent, the student should write an article mixing the parent’s viewpoint in the first person with third-person background and explanation.

Climate change imperils California water. But there’s hope.

Climate change imperils California water. But there’s hope.

California’s water supplies are being squeezed by climate change. By better capturing, recycling and distributing water, the state can avert a crisis. A dry reservoir bed in Cupertino, California, 13 March 2014 (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Water has long been...

Beset by raging wildfires and drought, Californians could be forgiven for thinking a climate Armageddon is upon them. The easy assumption would be that global warming means the most populous U.S. state does not have enough water for its many farmers and citizens. Keira Yin of The Thacher School provides a fuller picture by interviewing a water resilience expert and probing data. She concludes that stepped-up efforts to better capture, recycle and distribute water could go a long way towards ensuring the state can fend off the effects of climate change. Ask your students to consider how climate change is affecting water supplies in your region and to identify what the government is or could be doing about it.

Why don’t more U.S. schools teach about climate change?

Why don’t more U.S. schools teach about climate change?

Most Americans want schools to teach about global warming. But skeptics and lack of teacher training make it hard to implement climate change education. Students learn about water filtration as part of their climate literacy curriculum in Portland, Oregon, 30 January...

Climate deniers have lost the political high ground in the United States, but the struggle to combat global warming has only just begun. Lucy Jaffee of La Jolla Country Day School explores why teaching about climate change can help reduce carbon emissions, but also why U.S. schools are having such a hard time fostering climate literacy. She interviewed a local expert and two teachers in her examination of the challenges schools face in meeting the expectations of parents who want climate change in the curriculum. Ask your students to explore how climate change is being taught in their school, and if not, why not?

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