Past Topics

Download packets for past Exchange topics for use in your classroom today. Each packet includes a Town Hall Wall poster, lesson plan and student handouts for a 45-minute lesson.

When should increased security measures outweigh your privacy rights in school?

March 11, 2011

From bag searches in schools to body scans in airports, some citizens claim certain security actions are intrusive and unconstitutional. Others say protecting students and the public from harm justifies enhanced security measures. Participants in this installment of The Exchange reviewed landmark court cases and current events to deliberate the issue of privacy and security.

Are the principles of the U.S. Constitution reflected in your school?

September 16, 2010

The U.S. Constitution is more than the blueprint for our system of government. It embodies a set of principles we live by and represents who we are as a people. How do the rights of students in a school system differ from our individual rights as U.S. citizens? Are we able to see the principles of the Constitution in our school systems, and is there a need to incorporate more of these principles?

Can government prohibit citizens from owning handguns?

May 27, 2010

The debate about the Second Amendment is once again in the national spotlight, as the Supreme Court considers whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to the states as well as to the federal government. The question presented to the Court is whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated against the states by the Fourteenth Amendment’s “Due Process Clause.”

Should a year of national service be required for all Americans?

March 18, 2010

Citizenship is a team sport, uniting private individuals in the public life of their country. But what does citizenship require of us? What responsibilities do we have to the team? The Founders created a nation dedicated to the individual’s right to pursue happiness. At the same time, they defined the virtuous citizen as someone who is willing to set aside self-interest to pursue the common good.

Should same-sex couples have the right to marry?

January 21, 2010

For more than a decade the question of whether same-sex couples should have the right to marry has divided Americans, setting off a sharp debate about the purpose of marriage and the claims of equality. Supporters of same-sex marriage say that gay and lesbian couples should be treated the same as heterosexual couples as a matter of fairness. Those who oppose same-sex unions say that giving gay couples the right to marry will weaken an institution that is essential to a stable society.

Should the government make sure that every American has affordable health insurance?

November 6, 2009

Even before the current economic crisis began, Americans were already straining under the burden of shrinking health care coverage and rising health care costs. Over the last decade, millions of Americans have joined the ranks of the uninsured, and millions more have become underinsured. At the same time, health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs have risen steadily, and the number of families who are facing unmanageable health care costs has grown.

Should the United States reduce immigration?

September 25, 2009

From the time of the nation’s founding, immigration has been crucial to the growth as well as a periodic source of conflict within the United States. The debate over immigration has polarized the nation, sparking rallies and marches, prompting congressional hearings and generating bills in Congress for immigration reform. Most Americans believe that something should be done to regulate the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants and an estimated 500,000 H-1B visa holders currently living and working in the U.S.

Should a clean and healthy environment be a constitutional right?

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This research and deliberation activity is designed to encourage students to look at the issue of climate change and environmental regulation from a constitutional perspective and then to find political and economic measures to address environmental regulation.

Is the Constitution Color-Blind?

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This research and deliberation activity is designed to encourage students to look at the issue of affirmative action from a variety of perspectives and then to find political, social and economic measures to address the issues of fairness and inequality.