5th Grade New York

Puerto Rico

This inquiry examines the historical and contemporary factors surrounding the debate over Puerto Rico’s statehood. The compelling question “Should Puerto Rico be a state?” provides students with an opportunity to participate in the debate by focusing on national and cultural identities and the economic arguments for and against Puerto Rico’s statehood. The inquiry embeds Taking Informed Action throughout the Staging the Compelling Question and formative performance tasks and culminates in students taking part in an informed debate.

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Compelling Question:

Should Puerto Rico Be a State?

Staging the Question: Discuss the 2012 vote* on Puerto Rico’s statehood.
1

Supporting Question How did Puerto Rico become a United States territory?

Formative Task Write a paragraph describing how Puerto Rico became a United States territory.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from the Treaty of Paris
Source B: Map bank: Political evolution of Central America and the Caribbean from 1878 to 1898

2

Supporting Question What efforts has Puerto Rico made to obtain statehood or independence?

Formative Task Make an annotated timeline of events in Puerto Rican history related to efforts to obtain statehood and consider the next steps in the process.

Sources Source A: Chart bank: Results of statehood referendum votes in Puerto Rico in 1967, 1993, 1998, and 2012

3

Supporting Question What are the arguments in favor of Puerto Rico’s statehood or independence?

Formative Task Debate the issue of statehood/independence for Puerto Rico using arguments in favor of and against Puerto Rico’s statehood.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from “What’s the Matter with Puerto Rico?”
Source B: Excerpt from “Statehood Issues”

4

Supporting Question What are the arguments against Puerto Rico’s statehood or independence?

Formative Task Debate the issue of statehood/independence for Puerto Rico using arguments in favor of and against Puerto Rico’s statehood.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from “Why Statehood Is Bad for Puerto Rico”
Source B: Excerpt from “Caution Needed on Puerto Rico Statehood: The Costly, Confusing, and Contentious Repercussions of H.R. 856.”

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Prepare a brief from the debate summarizing the wide range of positions presented on the question of Puerto Rico’s statehood.