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Texas Government - McCauley: Assignment - GOVT 2306

Resources and information relating to Texas government and politics.

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Information On This Page

This page includes your instructor's class assignment and choice library resources to assist you with this specific assignment. You'll find the library's best databases, selected Internet resources and government websites. When performing Internet searches, please refer to the tab above labeled Evaluating Websites for tips on how to identify credible information.

Course Assignments

Writing Assignment #1: White Paper on "Does Texas Need a New Constitution?"

The State of Texas and TJC have developed these guidelines for this assessment:

Through a well-written assignment, students will:

  •   Analyze a significant current political issue in Texas politics: This issue will be about our state constitution.
  •   Identify/Explain the methods used by major political actors to present their proposed solutions to that issue.: You will explain how you or      others think the Texas state constitution can be improved OR you will defend how the current constitution is preferred to a new one.
  •   Discuss/Describe how the student would address and present their solution to the issue in the context of their rights and responsibilities      as citizen of Texas. (Students may adopt a solution offered by one or more of the major political actors)
  •   Discuss/Describe how the student would promote their adopted solution to the issue in the context of their rights and responsibilities as      a citizen of Texas. This is where you use information from your research to convince others your position is correct.

Here are the specifics for this assignment:

Texas has had six constitutions since it claimed independence from Mexico. The current constitution, adopted in 1876, is very long, detailed and has been amended 498 times as of November 2017. Some argue it is time to rewrite the state constitution; others say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Your assignment is to write a White Paper making a recommendation to Gov. Abbott about the position you believe he should take on this issue. 

  • WHAT IS A "WHITE PAPER?": The best definition is "a government or other authoritative report giving information or proposals on an issue."
  • HOW DO I WRITE A "WHITE PAPER?": There are lots of examples and directions available to help you. Following this assignment in the Module One list is a good example of what a White Paper looks like. Although it is on a different subject and is longer than yours is required to be, you can still see how a White Paper is developed and organized, and what it includes.

Length & Typeface/font: I do not grade based on word count or number of pages, but it would be impossible to make a compelling argument in less than three pages of double typed, 12 pt type. (Use a serif type like Times New Roman for the body; that is easier to read. Your headings can be in any typeface, but no larger than 24 pt. type, bold faced.)

Your White Paper needs citations of any and all sources of information you use in your paper. Your paper should include at least four different sources from your research, but your textbook may count as one. Use APA Style to cite all the places in your paper where you use information from sources you find in your research. This link will take you to a website that shows you how to write in this style. APA Link here

In addition to your APA citations (author name, year published, page number inside parentheses) your White Paper needs a separate page entitled REFERENCES. On this page you will alphabetically list ALL your references with full citations. Again, see the Link above for how to write  a full citation on the Reference page. This page does NOT count in the minimum 3 pages/double spaced you should write for your paper. If you cite websites (which you probåbly will) be sure you give a complete and correct URL citation so I can look it up myself to check your sources.

 Your White Paper does NOT need a table of contents, although these are often used in professional white papers (see samples through the link above.)

You can choose to include images and illustrations if you wish to, but they are not necessary. Graphs and other statistical support are helpful and add to the credibility of your argument. Your grade is based primarily on the following factors:

1. Did you make a compelling, factual argument for your position? It doesn't matter whether you are pro or con a new state constitution; what matters is if you write a valid paper supporting your position.

2. Do your references support your claims and does your paper indicate you did solid research?

3. Is your writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation appropriate for college level readers? If this is your weakness, go visit the Writing Lab in the TJC Library, 2nd floor. Nothing will turn off a reader faster than sentences that are difficult to follow, poor punctuation or poor paragraphing, and misspelled words. Writing Center 

4. Does your white paper show evidence of personal responsibility and social responsibility? This means does your writing indicate that you are making sound, responsible recommendations that indicate you have considered how this decision will affect others.

 

Writing Assignment 2: Core Assessment "Did the Supreme Court Decide Correctly in Plyler vs. Doe? "

This is your Second Major Writing Assignment as part of the Core Curriculum requirements of the State of Texas and Tyler Junior College. Please read ALL of the instructions below before you begin your research. As always with writing, start with an outline, then build your argument from the information you have discovered in your research. Review again the comments I made on your First Writing Assignment to make sure you don't make the same errors this time. After reading the directions several times, if you have questions, please ask or email me.

HERE ARE THE SPECIFICS FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT:  Issues dealing with the rights, services and protections afforded illegal immigrants are hot topics in the news today. Besides political historians, few people know that Tyler Independent School District played a major role in the Supreme Court's decision on providing free public education to  children of illegal immigrants. For this paper, you are to research the legal decision known as Plyler v. Doe, (1982). After researching this landmark case, write your White Paper as if you are advising the Supreme Court about whether they should reconsider this decision and why.

Your instructions for this paper are exactly the same as with Writing Assignment #1:

  •          WHAT IS A "WHITE PAPER?": The best definition is "a government or other authoritative report giving information or            proposals on an issue."
  •         HOW DO I WRITE A "WHITE PAPER?": There are lots of examples and directions available to help you. Here are a few links to show you how to do it:

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Length & Typeface/font: I do not grade based on word count or number of pages, but it would be impossible to make a compelling argument in less than three pages of double typed, 12 pt type. (Use a serif type like Times New Roman for the body; that is easier to read. Your headings can be in any typeface, but no larger than 24 pt. type, bold faced.)

Your White Paper needs citations of any and all sources of information you use in your paper. Your paper should include at least four different sources from your research, but your textbook may count as one. Use APA Style to cite all the places in your paper where you use information from sources you find in your research. This link will take you to a website that shows you how to write in this style. 

APA LINK here

 In addition to your APA citations (author name, year published, page number inside parentheses) your White Paper needs a separate page entitled REFERENCES. On this page you will alphabetically list ALL your references with full citations. Again, see the Link above for how to write  a full citation on the Reference page. This page does NOT count in the minimum 3 pages/double spaced you should write for your paper. If you cite websites (which you probåbly will) be sure you give a complete and correct URL citation so I can look it up myself to check your sources.

 Your White Paper needs a REFERENCES PAGE (or you can call it "Works Cited") that you used to write your paper. This "References" or "Works Cited" will be the last page of your paper. If you cite websites (which you probably will) be sure you give a complete and correct URL citation so I can look it up myself to check your sources.

 Your White Paper does NOT need a table of contents, although these are often used in professional white papers (see samples through the link above.)

You can choose to include images and illustrations if you wish to, but they are not necessary. Graphs and other statistical support are helpful and add to the credibility of your argument. Your grade is based primarily on the following factors:

1. Did you make a compelling, factual argument for your position? It doesn't matter whether you are agree or disagree with the Supreme Court's 1982 decision in Plyler vs. Doe; what matters is if you write a valid paper supporting your position.

2. Do your references support your claims and does your paper indicate you did solid research?

3. Is your writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation appropriate for college level readers? If this is your weakness, go visit the Writing Lab in the TJC Library, 2nd floor. Nothing will turn off a reader faster than sentences that are difficult to follow, poor punctuation or poor paragraphing, and misspelled words.

4. Does your white paper show evidence of personal responsibility and social responsibility? This means does your writing indicate that you are making sound, responsible recommendations that indicate you have considered how this decision will affect others.

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