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Monday, October 7, 2013

Current Events Lesson - Government Shutdown

After watching TV and listening to the radio over the past week, I think it is safe to say that everyone's mind is focused on the government shutdown and what it means for them and America as a whole.  So, this week's free downloadable lesson discusses this newest government crisis.

The problem stems from the fact that Congress is responsible (once a year) for deciding how it will fund the government programs and agencies it operates.  This includes such diverse things as the military to the food stamp program.  As of October 1st, the old continuing resolution that funded the government expired, but Congress still has not decided how to fund the government in the future.  The result?  Shutdown.

Republicans are bearing a large share of the responsibility for the government shutdown due to their dislike of Obamacare.  The reason House Republicans will not pass a bill to fund the government is because they want to add provisions that will partially limit aspects of Obamacare.  Democrats, however, are bearing some blame, too.  They are unwilling to negotiate on Obamacare until the government is funded.

Thus, the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate are in typical Congressional gridlock.  The problem this time is that millions of average Americans are suffering on a daily basis.  My hope for this lesson is that it can connect to your students in a very human way.  The government shutdown, although somewhat ambiguous for most teenagers, is likely having immediate effects on their life and well-being.

The video I use for this lesson is included both here and in the free download.  It's a five minute video that aired on October 2nd on ABC News.  It explains both how the shutdown affects Americans and what the political situation in Washington, D.C. currently looks like.

  • The titles of the different Congressional leaders (i.e. Majority Leader in the Senate, Speaker of the House, Majority Whip, etc.)
  • Services provided by different governmental departments (National Parks and Museums operated by Dept. of the Interior, E-Verify is run by Dept. of Homeland Security, etc.)
  • Fundamental beliefs of the Republican party (desire fiscally responsible governments, do not want government taking over traditionally capitalistic businesses such as health insurance, etc.)
  • Fundamental beliefs of the Democratic party (government was created to ensure the social welfare of all people, government should get involved in capitalist markets if they are functioning poorly, etc.)

I hope you and your class find this lesson engaging and invigorating.  Please leave me any questions or comments.  Enjoy!