Current Events Email - November 1, 2010

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Dear Educator:

Each month World Savvy will highlight breaking news and current events that can be connected to the classroom, including links to articles at various reading levels and connections to the standards. For complete background information on a range of contemporary issues, visit the World Savvy Monitor.

French Protest Changes in Pension Laws

France’s Parliament has just approved changes in French pension laws, a plan initiated by President Nicolas Sarkozy. These changes would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, among other measures, in an attempt to control costs and reduce the deficit. Sarkozy and other proponents argue that these measures are necessary to control pension costs as the country ages, but many French citizens are angry and are participating in nationwide strikes to protest these changes. For several weeks, various protests have crippled transportation and business around the country, and on Thursday, October 28, a new round of protests were staged in response to the approval of these measures in the lower house of Parliament.

Recommended Articles:

Advanced Article: Washington Times: French protests weaken but still disrupt flights
Intermediate Article: NY Times: Numbers Diminish at Protests in France
Beginner Article: CNN: French unions stage last-ditch strikes against pension bill

Additional Articles:

PBS Newshour: Video Blog
Christian Science Monitor: French strikes over pension reform hold lesson for the US and other countries

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is a pension? What benefits do current workers in France currently have access to?
  2. What changes has President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed to the pension laws in France? Why did he propose these changes?
  3. How have unions and citizens in France responded to these proposals? Why?
  4. What are the rules and benefits for retirement in the United States? Does the US face a similar situation, where there may not be enough funding to sustain retirement benefits in the future? Do some research - find out what proposals have been advocated to address these issues in the US.
  5. Do you agree or disagree with the proposed changes to the retirement benefits in France? Why or why not?


  1. NY Times: Taking it to the Streets (this 2006 lesson focuses not on the current pension strikes, but on previous street protests and similar protests around the world)
  2. Teachable Moment: The Social Security Debate and a DBQ
  3. National Endowment for the Humanities: The Social Security Act
  4. ESL lessons: Strikes Over Pensions Create Chaos in France

California Standards:

World History: 10.11 – Modern World Economy
US History: 11.6 – The New Deal, 11.11 – Contemporary America
English - Language Arts: – Reading and Writing, Persuasion

The views expressed in the articles and resources listed above are not the views of World Savvy. They are listed here as resources for educators but do not necessarily reflect the opinions and priorities of World Savvy. If you ever want to unsubscribe from this list, just send an email to Kelly at