Posted by: philipfontana | May 11, 2012

Current Events

Remember “Current Events Day”?

What News Stories Are You Following?


Phil Fontana, Social Studies Teacher, Ridgedale Middle School, 1974-1985, Florham Park, New Jersey

     Excuse us for living, but remember “current events day” back in your social studies &/or history classes back in middle school and high school? It was usually on a Friday, so I dubbed it “Lazy Teacher Day.” Therefore, as a social studies/history teacher myself, I avoided like the plague mention of current events on a Friday. In fact, I avoided the overworked phrase totally and called the news “controversial issues.” I filtered news events into the beginning of many daily lessons as well as having students collect news articles on “controversial issues” as they prepared for “The Great Debate” I held in all my classes every year.

After I wrote this post, I stood back and laughed! What hit me was “once a history teacher, always the history teacher.” So, apologies at the outset if I sound like your high school or middle school social studies/history teacher.

I’ve tried to make this “Excuse Us…” experience open to any topic and all age groups and not “pigeon hole” it. I have, however, purposely avoided partisan politics on the national level, at least, especially in this presidential election year. Close friends and family know too well my politics which easily slips out and can be easily deduced, I am sure.

Well, we are all influenced by the sources from which we get our news.—The internet, TV and radio, and newspapers (remember those?) and magazines. And, we often favor sources/stories/analysis that reinforces our preconceived notions. That said, I’d be interested in what news story or stories, what controversial issues, interest YOU most.

Under “Comments,” what news items are on YOUR mind recently?

Just me putting aside the 2012 Presidential Election, here’s what has caught my attention, my interest, lately:

  1. President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage: This controversial issue will be debated between now and Election Day. In the non-partisan spirit of “Excuse Us…,” I’ll “take a pass” on this one!
  2. The recent unemployment rate for April of 8.1%: While the lowest since January 2009, the experts forebode a gloomy economic forecast. This is based on job growth down from 154,000 new jobs in March to 115,000 in April.
  3. The one year anniversary of the demise of Osama Bin Laden: The thorough media coverage of our brave and capable U.S. Navy Seals was fascinating. What interested me most was the places and time OBL spent hiding in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The first 8 hiding spots were brief stays of months. But the last two, both near Islamabad, Pakistan, were two years and six years respectively. The old man let his guard down and the U.S. CIA and military were there like the neighborhood “Welcome Wagon”!!!
  4. The defeat of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy by a socialist, Francois Hollande, in the French presidential election: My immediate concern was for the economic impact the election results would have on the U.S. economy. France and Germany, in reverse order, are the economic powerhouses holding the European Union’s debt crisis in check. This past week’s U.S. stock market jitters and drop, unfortunately, reinforced my concern.
  5. The Rutgers University Board of Trustees blocked Governor Christie’s plan to give Rutgers-Camden to Rowan University: Thursday, May 3, 2012, the Trustees voted 32-4 adopting a resolution calling the merger “inconsistent with the mission of Rutgers University.” The resolution did, however, hold open the possibility of some compromise. The Trustees, in effect, stopped Governor Christie’s plan in its tracts and left him with reaching some compromise proposal as the only possible alternative.
  6. The latest al Qaeda bomb plot targeting U.S. aircraft: This recently unfolding story reads like a Clancy novel! –The CIA and its counterparts in Saudi Arabia and Yemen infiltrating a terrorist group in Yemen! –Plus a Saudi double-agent posing as a suicide bomber escaping with the new bomb device! Score one for the “good guys.” But this is a good reminder after the one year anniversary of killing Osama Bin Laden that this terrorist thing is far from over!

Comments: What news stories are catching YOUR attention lately? And see you in Social Studies Class tomorrow!!!

Sources:   The New York Times, The Star-Ledger, Daily Record

Time Magazine

TV & radio news programs

Internet news websites


  1. Good Stuff!!!!

    • Bob, Man are you fast! Thanks again, Bob. Just read you on FB! You are one of the sharpest of our peers & you probably already know that! I’m just getting to know the mature guy!!!! Would we have a ball together!!!!! Some day! Phil

  2. Hi Phil, Sue and I visited some dairy farms for her work a few weeks ago. I’ll leave out where they are or what her work is. Essentially, we got to visit the farmers, people involved with the farmers and farmworkers, and the farmworkers themselves. Turns out many, if not most of them are illegal immigrants who are here for a few years, make their nest eggs, and go back home. But they are plagued by the Border Patrol. Now without giving anything away, I will say that we get our food so cheaply because the people doing the tough work do it very cheaply. In fact, the farmers can’t find any “citizens” to do the work, although they try. So what’s got me riled up is that we (some of us) complain about “illegal immigrants” taking jobs from Americans, using up state and local resources, and just being dangerous people that we should keep out. But we want our lettuce, grapes, milk, apples, and produce of all kinds to be sold to us as cheaply as possible…but we don’t want to admit that we’re looking the other way when we go to the supermarket check-out line, where, for instance, we can read in the tabloids of all the horrors of “uncontrolled borders.”

    I don’t think any of my ancestors would have made the immigration cut these days…so I’m glad they had the good sense to come over in the 1800’s. But in any case, we should really facilitate those who want to come here: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Well, she’s lifting her lamp all right, but now it’s a stoplight!

    I know we’re not supposed to get into national politics here, but this is a travesty that’s been going on too long. Let’s open our doors again! Are we not the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    • Chip, No, no, by all means comment on anything! I just try in MY POSTS not to show that I am a Democrat on all the issues & for Obama. Ooops!!!!!!!! Ha!
      Immigration is an excellent example of a controversial issue supreme!!!! And I totally agree with all you say. Too many people want it both ways on immigration. How many people hire maids, landscapers, etc., & know they are in violation. I appreciate the personal side of your comments as well since the Irish preceded the Italians to our shore by a half century & more.
      Hopefully, if we can get a functioning Congress again the issue of immigration & all its aspects will be resolved for a while until it rears its ugly head once again in the decades to come.
      Chip, your comments have made a great contribution here. I follow all your activity on FB with pride!
      Thanks! And what a songfest May 4 was!!!!!! Phil

Leave a Reply to philipfontana Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: