Argumentative Essay

6-8 pages + works cited page, typed, double-spaced, and stapled

First draft due Friday, November 3

Full-length draft due Thursday, November 9

In this essay you will argue for or against a policy recommendation for creating equity for people who live in Santa Clara County. The policy recommendation should be specific enough so that a specific government or institution can take a specific action in making the recommendation a reality. Your argument, as much as possible, should be based on research so that you can make a convincing argument for the specific government or institution to take action.

Your essay should demonstrate that you are aware of different positions and opinions concerning the specific policy, law or rule that is the focus of your essay. You should demonstrate some historical awareness of how the policy, law, or rule has assumed its current form, historical awareness about how the groups affected have developed in a way that would require the policy, law, or rule to change, and historical awareness about the efforts of others to make the change you are proposing or solve the problem you are addressing. Your essay should be as up to date as possible. You should demonstrate awareness of the groups that would be affected by the change that you argue for and what the effects would be.

Research Question

Your research question will take the following basic form:
Should [institution, city, county, state government, government agency, or electorate] [policy proposal: change a rule, law, or policy/allocate resources/support a program] in order to [solve problem]?
Your thesis statement is your answer to your research question. Do not use the word equity in your research question or thesis. You should answer your research question based on your research and data. As you do research and learn more about your topic you might change your answer to your research question.


Before you write your outline you can think of your essay as having the following structure:

  1. Development of the problem and previous solutions to the problem
  2. Your proposed solution
Your outline is a plan for a six-to-eight-page essay that develops your thesis. Most likely your outline will answer the sequence of questions below. The structure of your essay, however, should depart from this sequence of questions if there is a good reason based on your thesis or the reality that your thesis represents.
  1. What is the problem?
  2. How has the problem developed? (Multiple Paragraphs)
  3. What were previous attempts to solve the problem? (Multiple paragraphs if multiple attempts)
  4. How has the problem affected a specific group of people near the present (stories if possible)?
  5. What is your proposed solution?
  6. What is the strongest objection to the solution?
  7. What is an answer to the objection?
  8. What are limitations of the solution?
  9. What is a solution that accounts for objections and limitations?

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. The first point of your outline should be your initial thesis, which is the initial answer to your research question. Do not write an introduction until you have finished a full draft of the body of your essay. Note that your thesis should change based on new evidence that you discover.
  2. Your answers to questions 2-4 constitute the "problem" part of your essay. This part of your essay should be in the past tense. Earlier attempts to solve the problem should be in this part of your essay. It is possible that this part of the essay will follow a problem->solution->new problem->new solution->new problem structure.
  3. The "problem" part of your essay should be organized as a chronological history of the development of the problem that includes previous attempts to solve the problem. This part of the essay will probably include stories of people who have experienced the problem in the recent past. You should also include in this part of the outline a description of the current situation and, if possible, stories of people within the current situation. The "problem" part of your essay should have multiple subpoints in your outline, and the subpoints should be in chronological order.
  4. Regarding chronological order, if you are tracing a variable over time, the point that you use to place the paragraph in chronological order will be the earliest data point (in other words, the beginning of the historical period). Likewise, a person's story should be dated according to the first moment in the story in order to place the story into chronological order.
  5. Your proposed solution should address the shortcomings of previous attempts to solve the problem. Your proposed solution should build from previous attempts to solve the problem that you presented earlier in the essay. The solution part of your essay should be in the present and the future.
  6. In the final draft of your essay you will probably not use the words objection or limitation. I will try to show you ways to gracefully address objections and to think about how your proposed solution does not solve more basic economic problems.

This is the process that you are required to follow in order to complete this essay:

  1. Select a topic
  2. Formulate initial research question, have initial research question approved
  3. Write an intermediate research assignment that includes a description of the relationship between your topic and the topics of other people in your research group, a brief history of the development of one aspect of the problem, and a personal narrative about your relationship to the problem
  4. Identify a specific problem and a specific proposal. The specific proposal should be the basis for a revised research question. Your thesis is not your research question. Your thesis is an answer to the research question. In other words, your thesis is an opinion, but it should be based on the best available evidence. You should start with a question and then do research so that you can answer it.
  5. Write an outline for the whole argumentative essay and have the outline approved
  6. Write a complete draft of your essay
  7. Revise the essay

I will evaluate your essay according to the criteria in the EWRT1A Essay Grading Rubric for De Anza College. Note that good essays will be up to date, contain the most accurate description that you can produce of the problem you are describing, and present a solution that your addressee can implement. In this essay you are required to use MLA-style in-text citations and include a Works Cited page that does not count towards the 6-8 page requirement.

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