1. Think of an issue that is important to you or an issue that has been in the news in Texas. I am including a list of possible topics that can be used for your assignment. Some of the ideas come from issues that I have seen in the news or are topics that are covered in the Discussion Board. Remember, these are just some examples – you may use one of these or you may use something completely different. Your topic needs to be a state issue, not a federal issue. If you are unsure if your topic is appropriate, please send me a note through the Messages link and I will let you know. You only need to pick one issue. I would rather see you cover one issue in depth then three or four issues very generally. To view news articles on Texas, click on the Texas news articles link on the left.
- Voting – ways to increase turnout; voter id
- Education – suggestions for improving the system; school funding; standardized testing; funding
- Regulation – should there be more regulation on businesses that store hazardous chemicals or on food safety
- Justice system – death penalty; reforms on sentencing; equality in the system; public defenders
- Health care – ways to improve access in Texas
- Water issues – municipalities and farmers fighting over access to water during drought; actions the state can take to ensure adequate water supply
- Revenue – ways the state or city can collect revenue; how should a budget surplus be used; should the state change the way it collects revenue
- Social issues — gay marriage, abortion, guns, etc.
2. Once you pick a topic, you need to prepare a background analysis of the issue. You will need three or more comprehensive, full-length articles from mainstream newspapers or news magazine publications. Your articles should discuss the substance of the issue, provide recent information and should consider various viewpoints. Avoid strict opinion pieces that provide a one-sided analysis of the issue. Your background analysis should include the people/groups involved in the debate, description of the conflicting viewpoints of the people/groups involved, including economic or ideological positions, and the various policy outcomes that are desired by the different participants in the debate. Including statistics or data that help explain your issue will make your analysis stronger. To help find articles, you can use the Newspaper Source available on the list of databases through the Central Texas College Library at www.ctcd.edu/academics/library or other online searches available to you. The online news source the Texas Tribune is also a good place to start.
3. The background analysis should be two to three pages (double spaced). In addition to the information from the articles, you need to draw on relevant information in the textbook to show you understand how the issue relates to topics covered in the course. Make sure you cite all the articles used and include the URL for the article.
4. Once you have completed your background analysis, you need to identify a state, county or city government official in Texas that can address your issue. Hint: US Senators and members of Congress are not state level officials. Using formal correspondence style, prepare a three-fourths to one page (single spaced) letter informing the official of your concern and offering a solution or making a request for action. Yours may be an emotional issue, but your argument must be based on reason, not just emotion. Support your position and refute opposing positions with factual information, data and well-reasoned arguments. When writing your letter, you will use information from your background analysis, but you should not just cut and paste the information from your background analysis into the letter.
5. Save the letter and background analysis as one document and submit the file through the link below.
6. This assignment is worth 100 points. The background analysis is worth 60% of the grade, the letter is worth 30% and overall grammar 10%.
7. Be careful when writing your background analysis and letter that you put the information in your own words. Simply cutting and pasting information from websites is unacceptable and will result in grade of zero for the writing assignment.