policy memo 11

The memo:

You are the Democratic Chair of the U.S. House Education Committee, and Bernie Sanders had just been elected President. One of his first bills is to make public college and university tuition free in the United States, by fully financing tuition for any student attending a public college or university in the United States with a new federal program. You are preparing an opening statement for hearings on the bill. You want to appear even-handed, and hence need to discuss both the pros and cons of the proposal, before stating and explaining your own opinion on the bill. You are somewhat constrained because you represent the same (Democratic) party as President Sanders; but you are not obliged to fully support the details of his proposal.

The assignment:

Your memo will be two pages, double-spaced, and will discuss both what economic theory and the evidence says about the question. As much as possible, back up your arguments with data and evidence. You will have to do some research, and you will have to boil down a good deal of research into the very short memo you have to write. The policy memos will be graded on both the content and the quality of writing. Please do not hand in a memo until it is written well enough that you could imagine submitting it for your work in a real job. References to source materials you cite should be listed on additional pages, and do not count toward the two-page limit. All sources should be cited, and claims about facts or research findings need to have source materials cited. You should be looking for materials that describe actual data and real research. You should not be citing the opinions of others as the basis for the conclusions you draw.

Writing tips:

You will likely write the best memo if you initially write a draft about twice the length of what is required, and then work diligently to cut it down, making the writing clearer and more concise. This usually requires a couple hours of work after you have all the content you want to include in the memo. Finally, it is important, once you think you are done, to re-read and edit your memo putting yourself in the shoes of someone who is reading it for the first time.

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