Assignment D: Policy Essay
University of Regina Educational Administration
Due Date: March 31, 2010
Means of Submission: Electronically to email@example.com or in paper form during class
Format: 15 pages, APA style with complete bibliography
Policy papers are “think” pieces, where alternative views, approaches and ideas are discussed.
Policies are sets of principles which represent a point of view or system of ideas. Policy papers
usually address “issues” or “questions” where differing ideas, points of view or principles clash
or are contradictory.
The paper will address a major public policy issue in Saskatchewan, describe the key sub-issues
involved, explain/critique the issue in terms of the prevailing lines of argument/beliefs/ points of
view/assumptions at play, and describe the central organizations/interests/powers which have a
stake in the issue. Your analysis will reference at least three “contradictory” articles found in a
Saskatchewan or Canadian newspaper, professional ‘position paper’ or ‘pronouncement” or
“policy statement”, or periodical during the 2005-2009 interval.
For example, ‘gender equity’, ‘teacher professionalism’, ‘student achievement’, ‘property taxes’,
‘accountability’, and ‘aboriginal education’ are some current “hot issues” in Saskatchewan. The
best topics are those that you are curious or passionate about.
Policy essays generally start with an argument or thesis that directs the organization of the paper.
An argument is a clearly-stated position in response to an assertion, question, or topic, backed by
reasons supported by evidence. An essay that only summarizes the readings is insufficient; that is
a book report. Rather, policy essays set out evidence-based reasons for the side of an issue you
choose to take. You need not accept everything the authors say at face value. They may disagree
with each other, and you may disagree with one or all of them.
How you explain and “handle” those disagreements will determine your score. You must ground
these disagreements in clear reasons. The policy paper can never cover all the arguments and
nuances in an issue. What matters is how you focus the policy essay to support your argument.
Do not ignore counter-arguments or counter-evidence. Always address alternate lines of thinking
to your thesis, explaining the positions, logic or constellation of ideas and view points that make
them alternatives. Cultivating your ability to see and explain counter-arguments succinctly and
clearly is the central purpose of writing a policy paper.
These are research essays. There is a need to investigate new sources of information to get a good
grade. You should, however, use examples to illustrate your arguments. They can be drawn from
the readings, lecture, periodicals, or from work in other courses. It is essential to explain why the
example is relevant. Do not plagiarize.