Persuasive Essays

For one of the programs I work for, I’m having to grade persuasive essays.

The students can pick just about any topic they’d like, and they have to eventually turn this paper into a letter in hopes of creating some sort of change. They get points for how mature their idea is (i.e., asking parents for a puppy gets a bad score, but convincing a school to adopt a new policy is good). I’ve gone over their outlines, and now, I’m starting to look at their first drafts.

For the most part, it’s pretty straightforward work. I don’t mind doing the revision suggestions, and some of the kids created some really awesome arguments.

But there’s a problem I’ve come across…

I have trouble reading and not arguing with students who are trying to persuade something that I don’t agree with.

For instance, one kid is arguing that Creationism should be taught alongside evolution. Personally, as someone who’s not very religious, I don’t think that one religion’s perspective to be taught in school. Second, because I went to college to become a teacher, I learned about laws that prevent that. Because educators have to follow the whole “separation of church and state” thing, they aren’t allowed to include anything that goes along with a religion. Heck, they’ve even stopped calling it “Christmas break” and have to call it “winter break” these days. So… that one is frustrating.

I have another girl arguing that abortion should be criminalized. I can’t even tell you how vehemently I disagree with that one. It’s a struggle not to argue with her.

And one girl is trying to convince the school district to get rid of the gifted education program. Her reason? It makes other kids feel stupid. Now, I know it’s important for kids to feel like they matter, but getting rid of gifted education?! Maybe they should get rid of special education because those kids might feel “stupid.” I was in a gifted program as a child, so I’m particularly fond of the concept. It really helped me during a time when I struggled. It frustrates me that she doesn’t know how hard it is to be gifted and stuck in regular ed classes.

So… yeah. Grading this week has been a struggle… sigh.

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