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Civic Minds in The Seattle Times

Program Content for June 20, 2014

Date:  Friday, June 20, 2014

e-Edition Date:  Monday, June 16, 2014

Article Title:  New Starbucks perk: college tuition for staffers

Section:  Main, A1


Vocabulary Review: Mitigate


“Starbucks says the tuition reimbursement program aims to help mitigate the woes faced by nearly half of U.S. college students, who drop out because of rising debt and conflicts with work responsibilities.”


Please look up the definition of mitigate and use this word in a sentence using your own words.






Comprehension Questions


1.      What are the perks of being a Starbucks barista?


2.       In a deal with Arizona State University, the coffee giant will provide what?


3.      Freshmen and sophomores will be eligible for what?


4.      The ___________________________________________________________ is for employees who work at a company-operated store for an average of at least _______ hours a week, which Starbucks says covers the vast majority of its ______________ U.S. staffers.


5.      Once in the program, they can choose from ______ majors.  What’s the bonus after they graduate?


6.      While the company and the university did not specify the cost of tuition for the Starbucks program, the Arizona State University website says tuition for its undergraduate online programs ranges from $_____ to $______ per credit hour. Fulltime students must take a minimum ____ credit hours in a semester, but typically many take as many as _____ credit hours.


7.      A Starbucks spokesman called the move “_________________________________” since the company began awarding stock to all staffers in 1992.


8.        The initiative comes as discussions about ______________________________ and concerns about ______________________ are spreading in U.S. politics.


9.       Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been a participant in the debate about fair wages, touting the company’s relatively generous benefits for employees working at least 20 hours a week.  What are they?


10.      Starbucks staffers participating in the program will have access to what kind of educational coaching?




Class Discussion Questions and Essay Prompts:



·        What do you think of Starbucks helping their employees obtain a college degree?

·        Should other companies follow?  Why or why not?






A Starbucks spokesman called the move “our most significant investment” since the company began awarding stock to all staffers in 1992.  The initiative comes as discussions about fair worker pay and concerns about mounting inequality are spreading in U.S. politics.  Decades of globalization and the tremors of the 2008 financial crisis have destroyed many well-paying blue-collar jobs in the U.S.


·        Do you believe in fair worker pay and equality in the workplace?  Why or why not?

·        What do you believe is fair worker pay for minimum wage jobs?

·        What are blue collar jobs?  Why have so many been destroyed in America?  Do you think they’ll ever return?  Why or why not?


In the services industry, entry-level opportunities are generally poorly compensated and have led to fears of a permanent social rift as low-skilled workers get stuck in those jobs.


·        Do you agree or disagree with the statement above?  Why or why not?



At the same time, in March Schultz said the proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 an hour could lead to job losses due to the stress it will impose on small businesses. The City Council approved the plan this month.


·        Do you think the new $15/hour wage increase in Seattle was a good idea?  Why or why not?  How will it affect businesses?  How will it affect local consumers?




Starbucks says the tuition reimbursement program aims to help mitigate the woes faced by nearly half of U.S. college students, who drop out because of rising debt and conflicts with work responsibilities.



“In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American Dream,” Schultz said in a statement. “There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it.”


“Starbucks is going where no other major corporation has gone,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, a group focused on education. “For many of these Starbucks employees, an online university education is the only reasonable way they’re going to get a bachelor’s degree.”


·        What do you think is the main problems that are “fracturing of the American Dream?”  Where do you see inequality?  Where are some Americans being left behind?  Do you think other companies will follow in Starbucks footsteps?  Why or why not?




Newspaper-related CBA activity:  U.S. Policy


How the United States government interacts with the world affects people across the globe.  Analyze and evaluate the causes and effects of US foreign policy on people in the United States and across the world.


·        Using The Seattle Times e-edition, find an article from this week that deals with world politics or foreign policy. 

·        What are the main points of view from someone living in that particular country?  How is that “view” similar and different than your own opinion, regarding the specific issue the article is discussing?

·        Why is it important to study and learn about foreign policy?  How does it help you understand the world we live in, using current issues and events?  





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