Discussion Questions for the Project Post Mortem

Some things to consider as you’re looking at you fellow classmates project sites:

  • For each site:
    • What is working well on this site? What is engaging about it to you in terms of text, image, sound, and graphic and interactive design?
    • How is the group using persuasive media approaches we’ve discussed in class, either in something they created themselves, or by linking to and prominently displaying the work(s) of others?
    • What do you feel called to do now that you have visited this site? What change in you, the site visitor, do you think is likely to happen?
  • For all the sites together:
    • What strikes you as the most persuasive technique you see here? Why is that?
    • Are there techniques that are less effective than others? Why?

In addition, take some time to think back on the course as a whole – the topics, discussions, readings, and assignments we shared – and think about what you will take forward with you beyond this course: 

  • How will you shape your persuasive arguments differently in the future? 
  • Will you be more likely to incorporate image, audio, and interactive design into your persuasive and critical work in the future? Why or why not?
  • What is one specific concept, idea, or technique you will remember most after this course? Why?

Group 1 Rhetorical Project

Front End

Back End-

Our project discusses particular issues within the education system that we believe should be strongly improved. Our claim focuses on enacting policies to increase the quality of education including providing funding for low-income schools in all grade levels, incorporating more realistic content within the classrooms such as financial skills, bettering the nutrition plan, and implementing better teacher pay. We chose to make this argument as a whole because, to some extent, we have either experienced 1 of our 4 arguments or more and/or have strong beliefs of improving the education system because of what we have personally witnessed from either our own perspective or from another. This topic is extremely important because we feel that along with the most essential necessities in the world, education should be a top priority and should be revamped annually or as much as possible to offer the absolute best form of learning for students to be successful. In our project, we wanted to present the truth behind the differences in equity between institutions and showcase research behind what districts are doing for their schools specifically. In the funding aspect of our claim, we have found that it is true across the board that students located in low-income and high-poverty communities are receiving less funding compared to their counterparts and this observation is the most influential piece of evidence that we wanted to emphasize in our project. We also wanted to showcase how impactful our ideas of policies could be on the quality of education. In another aspect of our claim, we have also found that students exposed to more financial education tend to have higher credit scores. We want our audience to understand how significant these differences are and how we can enhance the quality of education with our ideas. More importantly, we wanted to convey the importance of the research we’ve found and present the truth behind what is actually happening within the education system. Each section in our project represents our claims introduced as policies and we want to emphasize how each of these policies can cultivate every single child’s education. We want our audience to feel aware and informed after reading each section of our project and to understand what we are trying to convey. 

One of the sections covered in our project was about funding within the education system. The way I began my part of this project was by researching the statistics and numbers of how much schools between each state are receiving. I wanted to determine the economic disparities between districts and their schools occurring in the U.S. I found that many articles found cases of financial gaps between high-poverty or suburban areas compared to well-funded areas or city areas. I was able to find a variety of sources that could attest to the disparities, however, I struggled with finding dollar amounts in the most recent years. The United States Education Census contained every dollar amount spent categorized in levels of education and whether they were state, local or federal until the year 2017. For the remaining three years, there are no new data for the expenditures in education in the United States. Therefore, I continued my section with the information provided which was a challenge when writing this section of the project. In this process, I was able to find articles with cases that worked to attest to the funding issue within the education system. These articles focused on particular states in which parents filed lawsuits either against the state or school district regarding the economic disparities in their school communities compared to their neighboring communities. One of the links I incorporated in this project is about a specific case that began in San Antonio, Texas. A parent from the Edgewood School District filed a lawsuit against the district concerning funding gaps. I wanted to implement this case specifically because I wanted to showcase the negative outcome when addressing this issue.  In another link I included was about a different case that occurred in New York. Parents located in New York State argued to provide equal funding for students located in urban areas with high poverty rates. This was an additional site I added in order to present that it did have a positive outcome but still had continuing factors that affected the funding dilemma in the urban district. I found that although this issue had been addressed and successful in the process, there were still impactful limitations and issues continuing within the districts. Specific cases highlighted that there has been and continues to be a funding gap between divided areas. More and more evidence showed that low-income and impoverished school districts not only receive less funding but receive a ridiculously low amount of funding. As I gathered the data and support from articles, I wanted to implement the significance of providing more funding and share why I believe this topic is so important. In my process, I also researched the impact more funding could have and the opportunities it could make for students. I found that when schools obtain more spending, students are more likely to succeed academically before and after they graduate. I wanted to emphasize the positive outcomes by offering more aid for students. In the process of finding these positive outcomes, it was undeniably noticeable and unfortunate that funding gaps are common across the United States and there are very few cases that have improved. Another source in my section introduced what could happen if this policy were to be enacted and the impact it would have on students. The most important aspect I wanted to incorporate in my process of completing my section of the front end was to inform the audience as to what is occuring in our education system and how funding, specifically, can have a major impact on students itself. I used these links and images to introduce the act of addressing funding disparities between school districts and communities and to acknowledge the importance of implementing a policy to provide more funding. 

We also chose to talk about the lack of incorporation of essential content specifically the lack of financial literacy in schools. We know how important financial literacy is because we are college students who have probably had to make financial decisions paying for college, etc. I took a financial literacy class in high school and I gained a lot of knowledge that a lot of people are not fortunate enough to gain because financial literacy classes are not required for graduation in a lot of states. One rhetorical device that was used in the front end was Identification.  Identification is used to recognize connections between the audience and certain symbols to find a way to present a perspective so it is sensible. The way Identification was used was to present ways that the audience might need to manage their money for. It was stated in the front end that “everyone makes financial decisions” after naming topics that a financial literacy class touches on like “ the basics of saving, investing, budgeting, debt, etc” makes the audience identify with the topic because it makes them think about how making financial decisions is important in their personal life and will help us to persuade them. 

After utilizing Identification, a quote that shows the importance of the topic was used. The quote was taken from the 2020 Survey of the States which is performed by the Council for Economic Education (CEE) to determine financial education in the 50 states. The quote was used because even though almost “70% provided the option to take at least a one-semester elective”, only less than 17% of high schoolers were required to take at least one semester of personal finance” (2020 Survey of the States). So, the quote was used to make a point that only a very small percentage of high schools made financial literacy courses a requirement even though it is very important and the audience has been made to identify with the topic. Another point made was that it might be assumed that parents are educating students at home about financial literacy however a lot of students do not get financial education at home. This point was supported by the quote from T. Rowe Price’s 2017 Parents, Kids & Money Survey that looked at parents’ behaviors about money and their children’s financial habits. The quote showed that a lot of parents have hesitation to talk about money with their children. The first two quotes show that a lot of students are at a disadvantage because they are not getting financial education from home or from school but are expected to make financial decisions when they become adults. This lack of financial education can make them make poor financial decisions and make them more likely to be in debt. 

Given the information, some solutions on providing financial literacy to high school students were given. The first solution was to make financial literacy classes a requirement for graduation because it is so important and it is very likely to make a difference in the finances of students that take the classes. This point was supported by a quote that showed how much of an advantage personal financial education gives students. Another suggested solution was to give incentivized teacher training in finance courses which was shown to help increase students’ personal finance knowledge. 

Another rhetorical device that was used is Objectivity which involves not being influenced by personal opinion in considering and representing facts. This was done by using quotes that had been taken from research because since the evidence is gotten from research, it is not influenced by personal opinion. 

Another topic we chose to research was in regards to school lunches because we researched many inner city schools where the families struggle to provide for their children’s food. In a case like this they are counting on the school system to provide for their children. With even a base layer of research we were able to find that not only are many schools stingy with their budgets but they are also willing to serve food that is below even the standards of many fast food restaurants. The Food Research and Action Center has found that school lunches when they meet proper nutrition standards, provide numerous benefits to children. This means that these lunches really are important and this is something worth taking a stand on for the sake of our children. 

Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level are eligible for free school meals. Those with incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals, but does this mean that they deserve to be fed so poorly? From low quality meat to continuing to use meat from a plant with confirmed salmonella cases, in our research we found horror stories about school lunches. The benefits to children who do receive meals that meet nutritional standards are both obvious and proven. We cited research that shows the long term health benefits to these children.

Lastly we wanted to shed light on how little a lot of teachers are getting paid. Teacher pay is a very important topic when talking about improving the education system. Teachers are sometimes forced to quit their jobs due to how low their pay is. Low pay also discourages anyone looking to become a teacher, especially if they are in a low-income area. When it comes down to it, teachers are responsible with providing kids an education that is substantial and that will prepare their students in order to have a successful future.

One of the main things we wanted to present was how low some teachers are actually getting paid. It is scary how little these people are getting paid compared to how important they actually are in society as a whole. Showing that some salaries for the teachers is as low as even $35,000-$45,000 a year. Teachers are extremely important and they get underpaid for how important they actually are, and we really wanted to provide information to present this.

As a form of rhetoric, we aim to convince our readers to support increased funding for public schools. Lunches may not be fed in the classroom but they do directly affect performance in the classroom and unlike some school subjects they will always impact life outside of school. We made the argument that lunches are deserving of our attention and will have long reaching impacts on our youth.

Our persuasive media text can be shown to connect to some of the readings that we have done in this course. One of these readings is Scott Rosenberg’s “Three pillars of trust: Links, revisions, and error buttons” where he gives techniques to try to fix the distrust of news organizations. One of these techniques was to add links to articles because “every link tells a reader, “I did my research. And you can double-check me” (p.1). In our project, we employed this technique by adding links that supported our arguments on every page. For example, on our “Essential Classes” page, we hyperlinked the quotes to the websites where the data was gotten from. Another course reading that we can see that connects to our project is Sarah Stein “The 1984 Macintosh Ad”. In this paper, the author was looking at rhetoric in a 1984 Apple Advertisement. Constitutive rhetoric was the main component of the commercial and it involves use of “identification” rather “persuasion” as the key term of the rhetorical process in which “audiences are constituted through a process of identification with a textual position” (p. 173). We briefly used Identification on our “Essential Classes” when we wrote that implementation of financial education classes is important because “everyone makes financial decisions” and when we also listed ways that financial literacy classes help students like teaching them “saving, investing, budgeting, debt” in an effort to give the audience examples of how the use of financial information applies in their life so they can better identify with the argument. 

Citations 

Rosenberg, S., 2020. Three Pillars Of Trust: Links, Revisions, And Error Buttons — Wordyard. [online] Wordyard.com. Available at: <http://www.wordyard.com/2011/06/24/three-pillars-of-trust-links-revisions-and-error-buttons/> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

Stein, S., 2002. The “1984” Macintosh Ad: Cinematic Icons and Constitutive Rhetoric in the Launch of a New Machine. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88(2), pp.169-192.