gre practice test I part 2

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.

The following appeared as a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.

“Five years ago, we residents of Morganton voted to keep the publicly owned piece of land known as Scott Woods in a natural, undeveloped state. Our thinking was that, if no shopping centers or houses were built there, Scott Woods would continue to benefit our community as a natural parkland. But now that our town planning committee wants to purchase the land and build a school there, we should reconsider this issue. If the land becomes a school site, no shopping centers or houses can be built there, and substantial acreage would probably be devoted to athletic fields. There would be no better use of land in our community than this, since a large majority of our children participate in sports, and Scott Woods would continue to benefit our community as natural parkland.”

The letter makes the argument that the land set aside was set aside to provide value to the community as a whole. To the author, the land as “natural, undeveloped” is as equal value to the community as turning the land into a school and athletic fields.

It is unclear why this equivalence is made which would have made the argument better made. Without providing the reason behind the equivalence, we are able to make similar statements that I don’t the author would agree, but would be just as valid has her arguement. For example, making Scott Woods into shopping center would be just as good as keeping it natural because the shopping center could be used by the whole community and we would have increased sales tax receipts.

The community has a choice between three options: development, school or a natural park. The problem is that the author gives us no sense of why keeping the Woods in the natural state or converting it to a school provides value to the community. If we could quantify the value, it may be a good start. For example, homes near Scott Woods are twice the value of similar homes in neighboring towns, but if we added a school it would triple the value.

What is inherently worse about shopping centers and houses versus schools or natural parks? You can make an aesthetic claim or an economic argument. Aesthetically, you can order the three options (park, school, or development) in aesthetic order. A natural park is much more appealing that a parking lot and boxed stores, but a school is only slightly less appealing then a park. Economically, you can do the same. A school is a long-term capital expentiture that will give its return far in the future, the shopping mall would give quick economic returns, but the park may provide incendental returns (but perhaps you can find clever economic value to the park as in the example with property values above).

The next step in the argument would be to weight aesthetic concerns against economic. Which is more important beauty or money and how much more important? This discussion will go a long way to determine which of the three options the community should choose. If, for example, you feel that economics are much more important than aesthetics, you might choose the development plan.

This is my suggestion for making the arguement the author makes. First layout the aesthetic qualities of each options, pointing out that schools are not as bad as shopping malls. Next, evaluate each option for its economic value. Hopefully, this would show that schools have economic value. Last, have a discussion of why the mix of aesthetic qualities and economic value means that a school is the best option for the site. In essance, my advise would be to show that a school as as much or more value to the community than a natural park.


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