Sunday, November 3, 2013

Writing About Local Politics

The theme of my English courses is "Writing About Local Issues" and my students recently turned in essays on local politics.  Here's the prompt:

While presidential elections get a lot of media coverage and widespread interest, local politics often do not. However, local governments, like your city council, often make decisions that affect you more directly than the president. Your task for this essay is to find an aspect of local politics that interests you. Do you know how your city government works? Write a paper explaining it. Has there been a local political controversy that merits research and discussion? Write about it. Is there a local politician whose signs you see around town and wonder: “Who is that?” Find out who he/she is and what he/she stands for. You might visit your city clerk’s office to see who is bankrolling (giving large contributions to) a particular politician’s campaign. Your task is to inform your reader about information that would be valuable to their lives, and maybe even affect how they (and you) vote!

Reading these essays is fascinating for me because I'm constantly learning new things.  Before settling on this local theme, I tended to assign "typical" college essay promts on large, national issues like gun control, abortion, poverty, health care, etc.  The beauty of having students research and write about local issues is that it takes things out of the level of the abstract and makes it very "close to home."  Here are some of the topics my students wrote about.  Click on the topic for a little more information, and enjoy the visual aids:

The Bankruptcy of the City of Vallejo


































































Recent California Gun Control Laws: AB809, AB144, SB819

































































































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