ARG-009

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 this letter, the author claims that the residents of Parson care more about public schools providing good education than the residents of Blue. The main reason is that Parson City has recently spent almost twice as much on public education as Blue has from their tax revenues. However, the information at hand cannot fully support this conclusion, so more evidence is needed to help evaluate the author’s argument.


To begin with, while talking about the amount that Parson and Blue spent on their public education, we are not clear of the number of student that each city has. Therefore, the first piece of evidence needed to evaluate the argument is records of the number of students in the two cities. If Parson has about twice number of students as Blue has, the average amount that each student would benefit from in two cities would be the same. Thus, only evaluating the total amount of money cannot prove that public education is more important in Parson. Of course, if new evidence turns out to indicate similar number of students in the two cities, the author’s conclusion would be strengthened. Moreover, even if two cities have the same number of students, there are no information about the amount of each cities’ tax revenue. Although the absolute amount is lower, the percentage of public education expense may be the same for two cities. In this case, we still cannot ascertain that one cares about it more than the other. On the contrary, if they have about the same amount of students and tax revenues, such difference in the amount of expense on public education may represent a difference in the importance of public education in two cities.


Secondly, granted that Parson and Blue have about the same number of students, how important is the role of residents’ will played in deciding the allocation of tax revenues? Proofs showing that residents are the ones who decide the amount spent on education will help to ascertain author’s claim. However, without such evidence, it is possible that the government of Parson may take public education more importantly than the government of Blue. In this particular case, the difference in education budget cannot reveal residents in which city place a higher value on good education in public schools.


Finally, when we discuss how the public value the importance of public education, additional evidence is desirable in determining if funding is the only metrics to compare. Perhaps, Blue City, though spending less than Parson from its tax revenue, strongly supports public education through other means, such as by giving more land use allowances to public education and by organizing more activities or events that public schools’ students could participate for free. At the same time, money may be the only thing Parson dedicates to its public education. Easily stating public education has more importance in Parson than in Blue would then seem uncomprehensive in this scenario. Nevertheless, if it turns out that all other aspects be in the same condition and Parson spent more than Blue, we could then agree more with the author’s statement.


To draw a conclusion, we need further information to form a better understanding of the argument in order to evaluate it. After weighing evidence serve to support the conclusion as well as the ones that oppose to it, we could then make the decision about the soundness of the argument.

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