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GRE Argument Essay The Following Appeared In A Letter To The Editor Of Parson City's Local Newspaper - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: "The following appeared in a letter to the editor of Parson City's local newspaper. 'In our region of Trillura, the majority of money spent on the schools that most students attend—the city-run public schools—comes from taxes that each city government collects. The region's cities differ, however, in the budgetary priority they give to public education. For example, both as a proportion of its overall tax revenues and in absolute terms, Parson City has recently spent almost twice as much per year as Blue City has for its public schools—even though both cities have about the same number of residents. Clearly, Parson City residents place a higher value on providing a good education in public schools than Blue City residents do.' Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument."
In the argument, the author concludes that Parson City residents place a higher value on providing a good education in public schools than Blue City residents do, because Parson City has recently spent almost twice as much per year as Blue City has for its public schools. However, the author does not address some details that might affect the validity of the conclusion.
In the first place, the author argues that Parson City residents place a higher value on providing a good education in public schools than Blue City residents do, because Parson City has recently spend almost twice as much per year as Blue City, even though both cities have about the same number of residents. However, same number of residents does not mean the same number of students. Thus, we need evidence about if these two cities actually have the same number of children who need to attend schools. In other words, if majority of residents in Blue city are senior citizens and most of their children do not need to attend local public schools, then Blue City do not a high budget for its public schools, because there are not many students. If this is the case, it is not reasonable to claim that residents in Blue city do not place high value on education.
Furthermore, we also need evidence about if government budget is the only funding source that supports public schools in Blue city. If public schools in Blue city receive funds from various sources, for instance many public schools in Blue city receive a large amount of donation from their alumni, or there are some successful local businesses in Blue City that donate a lot of money to public schools, then, government budget alone does not reflect total fundings of public schools in these two cities. This can weaken author’s argument, because public schools is Blue city may overall receive more funds through various sources.
Overall, in order to examine the author’s conclusion, additional evidence is needed including: if the number of students in these two cities are the same, if government budget is the only funding source for public schools in these two cities.
The first paragraph contributes little to the essay in terms of its value as an exercise in analysing an argument; the fact that you essentially repeated the first sentence of the essay in the beginning of the second paragraph makes the first paragraph even less valuable. I suggest devoting the available time in the test itself to the analytical elements of the essay, since that is presumably what the GRE readers will be interested in.
Your arguments are basically fine; you identify relevant evidence and explain its significance, which is just what you need to do, so I'll focus here on a couple of points that I think are missing from your analysis.
Note that the letter's argument assumes that the money spent on public schools is a good index of the value placed on providing a good education. That truth of that assumption depends of course on what the money is needed for, so we would also need to know that (Parson's City's budget might only reflect the fact that the city has additional expenses or it might reflect the city's interest in supporting non-educational extracurricular activities at schools). And note that the argument is about Parson City residents placing a higher value on providing good education, not the city itself. We would therefore need to know whether the residents actually approve the budget before concluding that the budget might reflect their feelings about public education.