Quality Control Checklist for Individual Issue Reports and Position Letters
The issue topic is :Over Policing and Broken Windows
Part A – Issue Report
To recap, the issue report is compiled to examine the pertinent issues surrounding an area of social justice concern. Your issue reports should be aimed towards providing any reader a sound understanding of the problem at hand, what the role of government has been in resolving or worsening the problem and what policies the government need to implement or modify to improve the problem. Make sure your issue report incorporates the following considerations:
Does the report have a topic heading which appropriately describes the focus of the report and page numbered?
Can the reader understand what the issue report is about and which geographical area it is focusing on within the first ten lines of your introduction?
If you have a cover page, please do not state the professors name. We have spent weeks working on this project so that you could have a significant writing sample you could use professionally. So leave the professor’s name out of this.
The body of your report is another important area. The reader needs to gain a good understanding of the problem you are writing about. Reader also needs to be able to understand what community advocates who are working on the issue are saying about what needs to be done. You will also need to provide the reader with adequate understanding of the role of government in addressing the problem, or worsening it. The body of the report must also provide the reader with possible policy prescriptions or modifications that can help address the problem. All of the content in the body must be organized in a way that will allow the reader to understand the issues. So read and re-read your paper and try to see to it that anybody can understand with ease.
The conclusion is also very important. You can have two paragraphs or one well-developed paragraph as conclusion. The conclusion should summarize the possible policy prescriptions you have previously explained in the body of the report. Your conclusion is also an area where you can share your own thoughts about whether you are hopeful that government can address the problem you are examining.
Please note that citing of sources/references in your report is very important and one of the ways you could easily lose points, if not careful. You should read your paper carefully as if you were a reader who has no prior knowledge on the problems you are discussing. If an uninformed reader may have a question on any statement or may not believe it, you need to cite a source or remove that statement. Leaving statements and assertions which are not cited within the report will cause you to lose points.
This is very important to internalize for this class and for the rest of your academic careers. Finally, your report should have a list of references used on the last page of your report in MLA or APA format. I’m giving you the choice since two of you have used APA instead of MLA. I’m more concerned that you justify the sources you use, so just make sure you cite with one of these styles.
Part B – Position Letter
To recap, your position letter is an actionable tool any activist or community organizer can use to communicate policy prescriptions to an elected official who can do something about the problem. The position letter should be worded in a manner that is designed to persuade the elected official to act. The language contained within must be respectful, but direct (no flossing or being indirect with your recommendations). Make sure to incorporate the following:
Make sure to include the elected official’s address and date in the top left corner as most of you have done. PLEASE be sure to pick an elected official who is most suited or able to do something about the problem. You are permitted to include more than one elected official by carbon copying (cc’ed).
Within the first paragraph of your position letter, you must be direct and tell the official why you are writing and what your position/recommendation is. Example – “I am writing you this letter to request that you vote against the upcoming City Council vote on closing Rikers. I have closely followed this issue over the last couple of weeks….”
You should organize the body of the letter such that you have 2 or 3 main paragraphs to make a convincing case. Each paragraph should restate the issue and any statistics that can explain it. Then, in the same paragraph, you should indicate a policy recommendation/modification that can fix the problem. Make sure to cite, cite, cite. The policy prescription is one area you may not need to cite if its your idea. However, if the policy prescription can be found in one of the sources, then you must cite it. It only makes your case stronger!
The final paragraph in your position letter is the conclusion. Please don’t do a good job of developing your entire letter only to have a weak ending paragraph! The concluding paragraph is a very important one where you basically re-list your policy prescriptions you have identified in the body of the letter. You can choose to be generous and end it with a statement that encourages the elected official to adopt your policy prescriptions. You could also invite the elected official to reach you for a meeting to further discuss the problems (this will also be significant progress for your issue as an advocate!).
Sign off as you will any letter with ‘Yours Sincerely’ and your name underneath.
I have given you the option of using Microsoft’s ‘footnote’ function to make in text citations. If you do that you won’t need a final list of references as the last page of your position letter. It may be easiest for most of you to use the same in-text citation scheme you used for your report (Part A). If you use regular MLA or APA in-text citation to document your sources, then you must have a final list of references used as a last page, or you will lose easy points.
Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)
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