Paper #1: A Persuasive Argument for a Change
Write a persuasive essay in which you argue for a specific change in the law impacting the U.S. educational system that you believe would economically improve society or the overall success of younger adults (such as college-age students and recent graduates).
Below are only a few of the issues about which one can write. However, say something original! The same tired arguments have been made about most issues to the point where they lack any impact. Instead, you should choose an issue about which you can develop an intelligent, thoughtful, and unique set of points. So deciding upon your topic is the biggest challenge of this assignment.
For this assignment, you may engage in research to learn more about your chosen issue. This research should be only to gain necessary background information if needed; it should not involve seeking out the arguments of others on the issue. Therefore, YOU MAY REFER TO THE RESEARCH IN THE ESSAY, NOT INCLUDE ANY RESEARCH IN YOUR PAPER (such as statistics or ideas presented by others). Instead, you must develop your paper based on your own ideas.Therefore, you should choose a topic about which you are knowledgeable and believe that you can develop a thoughtful, intelligent argument for change. There are two primary reasons for this “no research” requirement: I haven’t yet taught you how to properly credit other people’s ideas (so you may end up committing plagiarism if you use research information at this point), plus I really want to see you develop original thoughts rather than repeat what others have already said.
Lastly, remember that the point of this assignment is NOT simply to share your views on an issue. Instead, you are seeking to write a persuasive essay that revolves around a series of logical points. You should not make any assumptions about the reader’s view on the issue and should otherwise also adhere to the standards of sophisticated academic tone discussed in our course lessons.
Here are a few of the possible issues that you may choose to write about, but please do not limited yourself to just this list:
- Reform of the public education system. Argue for a specific change or set of changes to the public school system. This should not merely discuss the need for a change, but instead should be structured so as to advocate a set of specific changes.
- Eliminate high-stakes standardized testing in the K-12 school system. For example, the Florida Standards Assessment (previously the FCAT) is used to determine the success of individual students and schools within the state. Should this be eliminated? Or is there a change to this system that would benefit students, improving their ability to gain a quality education?
- Teacher Evaluations. Would the use of required teacher evaluations improve classroom teaching? Would it be beneficial to tie these evaluations to a teacher’s on-going employment?
- Reform in undergraduate degree programs. Is there a change in traditional college degree programs that would be beneficial?
- Change in voting age. At present, Americans can register to vote once they have turned 18 years old. Argue for a specific change in the age of eligibility to vote. Would this impact education or economic policies that affects younger adults?
- Voter ID laws. Many states are passing laws that require voters to show one or more forms of state-issued identification (driver’s license, birth certificate, etc) in order to vote. In some states, these laws are designed to discourage students who only have a local college-issued ID. Argue for a change in these laws or for all states to adopt such law.
- Financial reform. Argue for a change in laws in regards to financial regulation.
- Tuition reform or changes in financial aid system. Should changes be made to how students pay for higher education? If you’re going to advocate something that would lower costs for students, how will those costs be then paid? (If the answer is simply that the government will pay, you’ll have to argue for why increased taxpayer spending would ultimately benefit the overall society)
- Change the minimum wage. Should the minimum wage be raised? Should it be lowered or eliminated altogether?
- Change the income tax code. Should there be changes in the income tax code? Simply arguing against taxes or for lower taxes would be note effective. Rather, an argument for changing the system should thoughtfully consider how to fund government spending while changing the method of raising revenue. For example, you could argue for changing the tax brackets, for specific exemptions to income taxes (such as all educational costs, the costs of insurance, etc), or for a “flat tax” system.
- Change in access to medical insurance. At present, younger adults are among the most likely to lack access to affordable medical insurance. Is there a change in law that would help improve this?
- This paper must adhere to MLA style or APA style guidelines. Confirm with your instructor which format he or she would prefer you use on this assignment. Information about these style guides and your academic pathway is listed on the syllabus. Additionally, there are modules within this unit on both MLA and APA style.
- This paper must be at least 5 paragraphs in length AND must be at least 700 words long. This generally equals at least 2 complete pages. Do not exceed 5 pages. If you do not meet the minimum length requirement, you will not earn a passing grade on the paper
- Make sure to upload each assignment as a Word document (.doc or .docx) in the Assignments tool within the Assessments tab above.
The Writing Process:
- STEP 1: Submit an Outline Worksheet for Paper 1. This worksheet (a Microsoft Word document that you can download) can be found by clicking on the link here or within each learning unit’s Paper #1 Assignment folder . This worksheet asks you to develop your thesis statement as well as the topic sentences for your body paragraphs. Please submit this completed worksheet in the Assignments section of the course. I will reply to you with feedback on your thesis & topic sentences and specific suggestions as to how these might be revised to more successfully craft a quality paper.
- STEP 2: In-Class Peer Review Session. On the designated day on the tentative course calendar, bring three printed copies of that unit’s essay in rough draft form for in-class peer review session. In order to earn attendance credit for the day, you must come to class with copies of your rough draft.
- STEP 3: Submit Rough Draft to Tutor (optional). You may submit your essay to BrainFuse (for online tutor feedback) or visit the Academic Success Center’s Writing Lab (on campus tutoring center) with your essay for additional writing help. An extra credit essay activity is based on your experience with the tutors.
- STEP 4: Submit FINAL Draft. Upload a final, well-polished draft of your essay to the Assignments section of the course.
On steps one, two, and three above, you will receive feedback and a grade that indicates credit for submitting the assignment. However, the grade is ultimately of less importance. Instead, the FEEDBACK provided by your instructor is of ultimate importance. Utilize this feedback to proceed in the writing process in order to develop a quality final draft that will earn a successful grade.
Any plagiarism on this paper or any of the steps in the writing process will lead to failure of this course, so please do not make that mistake.
How is this paper graded?
I will grade your paper based on the following elements:
- Paper is based on your own ideas, yet written in in 3rd person point-of-view.
- Proper essay persuasive essay structure that revolves around a series of logical points, including a detailed, quality thesis statement.
- Proper grammar, spelling, syntax, and sentence mechanics.
- Proper academic tone.
- A clear, thoughtful, sophisticated, and intelligent argument.
- Adherence to all items listed under Key Requirements.
Please remember that this assignment should NOT be similar to writing that you may have written during high school or in a college-prep course. I expect original, intelligent, well-structured, quality writing and thinking; otherwise you will not earn a passing grade. The point of this course is to raise your critical thinking and writing skills to the level necessary for quality college-level discourse, so make sure to keep that goal in mind as you work on this project.