Hard Choices in Public Policy HW

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Length: 1000 words (± 10%). Your bibliography is not part of your final word count.

Minimum Sources: 6 (readings do not count as sources) Content

Pick a policy issue and explain why that is a public policy problem. Explain the possible opposition to your problem definition. Explain why we should spend taxpayer money and dedicate time and energy to solve this public policy problem.

Dos Define your problem narrowly. Do not pick an issue that is overly broad such as “health care is a problem in the US”. Narrow the problem to a manageable subset such as “access to affordable health care for young (18-24) people is a problem.” Use precise language. Avoid ambiguous terms. Be straightforward in your statements. Use evidence to back your claims. Do not take it for granted that everyone would agree about your take on the issue. Evidence should include academic research and data. Present your data effectively. Use charts, graphs, tables to present the evidence you have collected. Always report the source of your data. Structure your document. Make sure that it follows a logical progression. A quick two-line description of its contents can be very useful. Address the best possible opposition to your problem definition.

Don’ts Do not bake the solution into your problem definition. Example: if you say that “we do not spend enough money for k-12 education”, then the obvious solution is “increase spending”. Do not obfuscate the issue. Example: if you define a problem in terms of fairness, you must explain what you mean by ‘fairness’. Your definition of hard-to-measure concepts could be very different from your audience’s. Do not make evidence-free assertions. Do not use unreliable sources: trace the evidence back to the primary source. Format

Text: you are free to choose your font, spacing and other features of formatting. Your only constraint is a one-inch margin minimum throughout your document.

Bibliography: you are free to choose whichever bibliographic format you prefer (APA, MLA, etc.) as long as you include all the relevant information. That includes author, year, title, source, web link (when applicable). A link list is NOT an acceptable bibliography.

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