81. Single Sex Education.
- A recent study claims that boys are called on to answer questions more often and, in general, are given preferential treatment in the classroom. Why?
- What proof can you find of this favoritism?
- Other studies show that both girls and boys appear to learn more efficiently, have higher test scores, and gain more confidence without the opposite sex in the classroom. Why?
- If this is true, should Americans support public and private single-sex schools?
82. Social Security. It seems as though Congress is always studying Social Security. Baby boomers and Generation-Xers are beginning to worry about their retirement future and the Social Security system. Narrow wisely; this is a broad and timely topic. The following are issues you may find interesting:
- Privatization of Social Security
- Government money management versus investing funds in the stock market or other investment means
- Should Social Security be paid according to need? Contribution?
- Survivors’ benefits for children
- Social Security numbers as identification and privacy
- What plan is Congress considering to restructure Social Security?
83. Sports and Health Benefits. This is a great topic and offers many refinements. Consider whether the money spent to offer physical education to school children meets its goal of instilling lifelong good health habits.
- Do athletics teach qualities or habits that people need for living?
- Are there long-term benefits for those who run, walk, swim, and so forth?
- What are the psychological, social, or physical benefits of sports? Sportsmanship? Teamwork? Mental or physical well-being?
- What about the benefit of sports for girls?
- Certainly consider the lifetime benefits of exercise for your health.
84. Sports Arenas.
- Who should pay the substantial costs of building new sports arenas?
- Is it fair to use tax dollars to build sports arenas when so few citizens actually attend or can afford to attend games?
- Can sports arenas revitalize downtown areas?
- What are methods cities could incorporate to help offset substantial building and maintenance costs?
- Should sports teams own or lease sports arenas? Should players?
You can also select a city that has built or is building a stadium and do some research on it (e.g., Houston, Nashville, Denver).
85. Standardized Testing. There has been much controversy about the validity and fairness of standardized tests. Colleges universally look at test grades, such as SAT and ACT, as part of entrance requirements. If you are in high school, you may want to look at tests given in your area. Texas has the TAAS test that must be passed for high school graduation and New York has the Regents exam. Following are a few points to consider:
- Are standardized tests fair to people of different races or cultures? Are they biased against minorities or minority groups?
- Several tests to consider are the TASP, SAT, and ACT. In Texas, students must take the TASP test to enter college. Most colleges nationwide insist that students make a certain score on a standardized test as part of entrance to the college. Does this (or any other) test give an accurate picture of student capabilities?
- Choose a special group of people, for example, teachers, nurses, special education students, college entrance students, or high school graduates. Should tests be given to certify these groups?
86. State Lotteries. Statistics show that gambling has gained wider national acceptance. Families go to Las Vegas for vacations—a place where children were invisible 15 years ago. Now state lotteries are more and more popular as a way for the state to raise money. If you consider this topic, you might look at it from a “moral or ethical” stance or from a “where does the money go?” viewpoint. Following are some questions to ask:
- Do the benefits of lotteries outweigh their harmful effects (if any) on society? Name proven effects.
- Have lotteries been responsible for changing our attitudes about the morality of gambling?
- Are profits actually spent on earmarked programs, such as education?
- If so, does the state still give education its usual allocation so that it gains from the use of lottery money?
- What groups fight to end the lottery, and how and why do they do so?
- Does the lottery actually bring promised money to the state?
87. Suicide in Elderly. This is another interesting hot topic about which there is almost too much information. We know that both suicide and alcoholism are prevalent in the elderly. You will need to refine your topic; for example:
- Suicide among the elderly who live alone, or
- Alcoholism and suicide among the elderly.
Select several keywords that help refine your subject. You might contact a nursing home or suicide hotline (main number only) and ask preselected questions. Consider many factors, including the following:
- What are the primary causes of suicide in the elderly? Find research and statistics.
- What kinds of intervention are successful in preventing repeated suicide attempts? Can treatment be successful in preventing suicidal behavior?
- What part does mental illness play in suicides? Loneliness? Depression?
- What success have national and local hotlines had in preventing suicides?
88. Superstores. In the 1990s, we began to see more and more “superstores,” or one-stop-shopping centers, for computers, food, clothing, hardware, books, automobiles, and now caskets. How have these superstores affected the marketplace and the way we shop? Ask yourself the following questions:
- In what ways have these stores affected small towns?
- How have they affected “mom and pop” store owners?
- Can small businesses compete with the buying power of these superstores?
- Is indiscriminate expansion of superstores a national trend?
- What will be the future of these stores?
- Could there be a trend away from these huge stores?
89. Tax Reform. Consider some of the following subtopics as ways of limiting this huge topic:
- What are suggested methods of tax reform? Pick a method that interests you and locate both pro and con information about it.
- Will a flat-rate income tax work? Who will be helped most by it? Would it be fair to all?
- In a flat-rate tax system, would lack of tax breaks affect the incentive to risk owning a business?
- Should we establish a national retail sales tax to replace the current income tax system?
Consider comparing the different political parties and their views on tax reform.
90. Term Limits. Term limits have been considered since the days of the Articles of Confederation. Term limits place statutory limitations on the number of terms officeholders may serve. This has especially been discussed as a possibility for members of Congress. The issue of term limits became important in the United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Following are a few questions that might help you refine this topic:
- Would term limits eliminate the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups?
- Would they allow politicians to vote their conscience instead of worrying about the results of the next election?
- Or would term limits give politicians carte blanche to abuse their power, believing they will not be held accountable?
- Are we likely to get term limits when the people who would have to abide by them are the very ones who would write the legislation promoting them?
You might find good local or state examples of term limits. Whatever you do, be sure to find the viewpoints of both the proponents and the opponents.