Political Science 111 DL
American National Government & Politics
Chapter 3 Assignment:
Letter to Government Official
Select a political issue that interests you and write a letter about it to an appropriate elected or appointed government official. Letters can be persuasive ("I want you to...."), informational ("You may not know that...."), or interrogative ("What is your opinion about...."), as long as you are clear about your point (what exactly do you want them to do?). For example you may want the President or Governor to veto a bill that the Congress or legislature has just passed. Or you may want a county commissioner to address a specific problem or issue at the next county board meeting. Perhaps you want to tell your state legislator how important financial aid and lower tuition are to you. Or maybe you want to know what your city councilor thinks about building a skateboard park in town. Be specific--state exactly what you want the official to do. You may have to do some research to learn the relevant details about the subject of your letter.
Letters should be in proper business format (it must have both the address of the person you're writing and your return address), with no grammatical or spelling mistakes. You are responsible for determining who to write to (a specific person) and for obtaining the proper address. Sending your letter by e-mail is acceptable, though old-fashioned snail mail is highly encouraged--government officials pay more attention to snail mail, since it is so easy for individuals and groups to e-mail many at a time. Submit a copy of your letter to me (in Canvas).
Writing in the 1st person ("I think....") is acceptable, and your letter should be approximately 1 page in length (150-300 words). Please do not put the assignment heading on your letter--the government official does not need to know that this is a class assignment. Lastly, make sure to write to a government official, not someone from an interest group.
Your letter will be evaluated by the following criteria:
- selection of an appropriate topic
- addressing your comments to the appropriate person
- how well you make your argument
- use of relevant and appropriate information to prove your point
- clear, effective writing style with no grammatical or spelling errors
- following guidelines and instructions
This assignment is worth 25 points.
Copyright 2004 Michael Ceriello
GRADING: Standard business format: the address of the person you wrote to (2 points), their title--not just "Dear John Smith" (1 point), the date (1), up to 5 points-did you write to an appropriate specific person? and could I tell if it was an appropriate person? (if you didn't include the address of the person you wrote to, and didn't use their title, how would I know?), and 5 points for your return address, without which, how would you get a reply (the whole point)? And no, having your return address on the envelope doesn't count, since the envelope and the letter often get separated during processing. Appropriate proof if emailed. And, of course, the standard late deduction. File named appropriately, and saved in appropriate format.