AN EXERCISE IN ANALYZING A 'PERSUASIVE ESSAY'
My 12-year-old daughter, who's in 7th grade, sometimes writes 'persuasive essays' in her English class. I really like that. I don't think kids generally get to do enough writing in school. It is enormously important to learn how to really write, and really read, and in the process, really think. And to do it critically. In life you are bombarded with ads, politicians, people wanting you to think this or that.
Here's a little excercise I will do for my daughter Sara, and the other kids at Newark Junior High. Let's take a text, and then, let's take a closer look:
The Police Department currently assigns one Police Officer to serve fulltime as the School Resource Officer (SRO) at the High School. For the past two and a half years, the Junior High School has not had a dedicated SRO due to financial constraints. There has been a growing concern recently among school leadership and within the police department regarding the increased violence at the Junior High and a number of other problems on campus that were formerly kept in check or at least better managed with the presence of an SRO.
Police and school district staff have devised a strategy to combat these issues by assigning a part-time School Liaison Officer (SLO) to provide law enforcement presence at the Junior High.
OK, so there is 'increased violence', 'growing concern', but a 'strategy to combat these issues'. Actually there are several presumptions and insinuations piled on each other. Everything put in to push buttons, get our imaginations going, led us in the right direction...toward the desired conclusion.
1) ' the increased violence' - ta-ta-ta-dam VIOLENCE!!! Could be anything! It doesn't say what kind, but it doesn't sound good! God help us! School shootings...bodies on the ground...happens all the time. Violence, but not only that, it is increasing...day by day...it has to be stopped...what can we do?!
2) 'has not had a dedicated SRO, due to financial constraints' - so before, when we had a SRO, we were at least getting by, we used to be able to manage keeping all the VIOLENCE and 'a number of problems', barely under control...jeees, now it is out of control, our children are running wild; or it is probably other people's children running wild, threatening our children...There is hope, can we get the SRO back in school...can we?...please?
3) 'school leadership' and the police department have 'growing concern'...Very grim sounding, very mature, someone is looking after our best interests. They are not just concerned, as with the violence, it is escalating, growing. As we are just sitting, doing nothing, this thing is growing into a monster! Thank God, the Police and the School, trusted public institutions, work so well together. They can save the children!
4) 'Police and school district staff have devised a strategy to combat these issues'... 'combat'! This is war! In war you have to trust your leaders, they have a plan that will take us through the terrible violence and problems. 'It's a Mad Max' scenario, anarchy...but our leaders have all sat down, and devised, probably by using complicated tools,and by virtue of their wisdom and experience, the strategy that will save us all. Lead on.
Only thing...the text was written on the Newark City Council Agenda last week, and it was talking about my daughter's school. Fortunately it wasn't true. There is no real violence going on, everyone's safe. 'The increased violence' is not true, it is supposed to be 'decreased violence', and when it all deflates, you get a flash-back of 'weapons of mass destruction' and how words can take you to places you really regret. The Mystery Ghost Author, in the haunted halls of City Hall, hitherto unidentified, sure wanted a SRO for Newark Junior High when he wrote what he did, and guess what...he got one too.