writing a letter to the editor

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Health Disparities in the Media

Introduction

In this class we have looked at numerous data and statistics related to health disparities, and have evaluated the different types of social justice and health disparities issues. Now it is your turn to explore current events that are related to course topics!

Task 1- 10 points

You will need to search for a news article that relates to any of the social justice/health disparities topics that we have discussed in this course. You may use an online or a print source for this project. Make sure that you include a link to the article or a scanned copy when submitting your assignment.

Task 2- 70 points

Next, you will write a letter to the editor. Your letter can express one of the following:

  • You are angry about something, and want others to know it
  • You think that an issue is so important that you have to speak out
  • Part of your group’s strategy is to persuade others to take a specific action
  • Suggest an idea to other
  • Influence public opinion
  • Educate the general public on a specific matter
  • Influence policy-makers or elected officials directly or indirectly
  • Publicize the work of your group and attract volunteers or program participants

Please refer to the guidelines found in “How to Write a Letter to the Editor”, which can be found in Unit 6. General guidelines can be found in the power point presentation preceding this assignment.

Task 3

Write a brief (50-200 words), open-ended reflection of the project. Here are some ideas for what you can talk about:

  • Something new that you learned from the article
  • Potential bias that you found in the news article and/or news source
  • Overall impression of the letter writing process (Was it easy, difficult, manageable?)
  • Something else that you would like to mention

Rubric

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeArticle

Students are required to attach the article that they are using for their project. Additionally, the article must be relevant to social justice and/or health disparities.

10.0 pts

Full Credit

Student has included news article as an attachment or weblink. Article is relevant to the course.

5.0 pts

Partial Credit

Student has included article, but it is not relevant to the course.

0.0 pts

No Credit

Student did not include news article as an attachment or weblink.

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeLetter- Content

50.0 to >42.0 pts

Excellent

The student demonstrates a well-developed focus, thorough points of development, and a logical pattern of organization of ideas and concepts.

42.0 to >34.0 pts

Adequate

The student demonstrates noticeable focus, adequate points of development, and a noticeable pattern of organization of ideas and concepts.

34.0 to >0 pts

Needs Improvement

The student demonstrates no clear focus, no clear development, and no clear organizational pattern of ideas and concepts.

50.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeLetter- Structure

Please refer to the How to Write a Letter to the Editor page when constructing your letter. This page can be found in the Unit 6 module.

10.0 pts

Full Credit

The student has completely followed the guidelines provided in the How to Write a Letter to the Editor page.

5.0 pts

Partial Credit

The student has partially followed the guidelines in the How to Write a Letter to the Editor page; however, some elements are missing.

0.0 pts

No Credit

The student did not follow the guidelines provided in the How to Write a Letter to the Editor page.

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeLetter- Writing

This includes grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Is the writing consistent with the English language?

10.0 to >8.0 pts

Excellent

Learner demonstrates exemplary accomplishment of the following tasks: 1. Consistently appropriate and precise language for the assignment. 2. Consistently clear divisions between the writer’s voice and the sources used to support claims. 3. Consistent and clear use of standard American English in grammar and punctuation

8.0 to >5.0 pts

Acceptable

Learner demonstrates adequate accomplishment of the following tasks: 1. Somewhat precise language is used. 2. Irregular divisions between the writer’s voice and the sources are used to support claims. 3. Evident lapses in use of standard American English in grammar and punctuation.

5.0 to >0 pts

Needs Improvement

Learner demonstrates incomplete attempt to address the following tasks: 1. Frequent lapses in concrete language. 2. Consistent irregularity in divisions between the writer’s voice and the sources used to support claims. 3. Consistent lapses in use of standard American English in grammar and punctuation.

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeReflection

Students are required to provide a brief reflection of the letter writing process and the project as a whole.

20.0 pts

Full Credit

Student has provided a project reflection and it meets the required word count.

5.0 pts

Partial Credit

Student has provided a reflection but it does not meet the minimum 50 word count.

0.0 pts

No Credit

Student did not include a reflection of the project.

20.0 pts

Letter to the Editor Examples

EXAMPLE 1: WRITING A LETTER IN FAVOR OF A PROPOSED ACTION

To the Editor of The Herald:

The U.S. House of Representatives has recently proposed a law (H.R. no. 396) that will ban the sale of cigarettes from vending machines. This is a landmark piece of legislation that everyone in our community should support right now.

Many people don’t realize it, but vending machines are one of the main places that children are able to purchase cigarettes. In fact, it is estimated that 10% of all cigarettes purchased by minors take place at these machines. If this new legislation goes into effect, it will not only make it more difficult for youth to break the law by buying cigarettes, it will lower the chances of young people smoking in the first place

There are many reasons (besides the legal ones) why we should try to curb smoking by our children. 1) Research shows that most people who smoke started when they were underage. 2) Many people fear that smoking cigarettes serves as a “gateway” to harder drugs. 3) Smoking is a very expensive addiction (particularly for a teen who makes minimum wage) And, finally, 4) smoking can cause many life-shortening or fatal health problems (such as lung cancer and emphysema). Our young people would not smoke before they are really able to understand or accept the long-term consequences.

The vending-machine bill has been proposed, but now it needs to be passed. Your voice will count here. We encourage you to write or call the representative for your district (for those of us in District 8, that’s Congresswoman Fisher) and let her know that you support her as she tries to get this legislation passed. The more support she gets, the more likely it is that this bill will become law. Contact Tobacco Free Youth for further information about this important issue.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Friedman, Director
Tobacco Free Youth
123 Forest Road

EXAMPLE 2: WRITING A LETTER OPPOSING A PROPOSED ACTION

To the editor of the Lawrence Journal World:

Bulldozers began moving dirt last week at Lawrence High School and the Centennial Virtual School, but city commissioners and school district officials have been bulldozing this community for months with an athletic facilities expansion plan that is fiscally irresponsible, unnecessarily redundant and probably illegal. Our elected officials have misled the public, violated zoning codes and set taxpayers up for a $10.3 million loan that will take 10 years to pay off and cost taxpayers $2.25 million in interest.

Why was the public repeatedly told that this project could be built with leftover bond money when those funds don’t even represent a third of the proposed budget?

Why is it necessary to build two separate football stadiums at a cost of $4 million?

Why is it inconceivable to parents that both teams could play in a shared stadium at FSHS? The situation would be no different than it is in swimming, where both schools compete at the Indoor Aquatic Center.

Why are city commissioners allowing the school district to build a stadium for 4,000 spectators at LHS without also requiring the district to provide the 1,300 parking spaces required by city zoning ordinances?

Why did the school district repeatedly assert that the proposed facilities would only disrupt neighbors a few nights a year when it clearly intended to lease the fields for nightly city softball, baseball and soccer games?

We need new leaders with a clear vision, a commitment to fiscal responsibility, and the ability to balance community and educational needs.

Jerry Schultz, Bob Tryanski, Jeanne Klein and 10 other signers,

Lawrence

EXAMPLE 3: WRITING A LETTER OPPOSING A COMPLETED ACTION

To the Editor of The Herald:

I am outraged by the County Commission’s recent decision to terminate the lease of the Head Start program at the County Court House. With this decision, a much-needed, already under-funded program may simply have no place to go!

Head Start is a fantastic program. It makes sure that poor and other at-risk pre-school children will have the nutritious food and special attention they just may not get elsewhere. It gives these children a true “head start” in a world where they may not get many other chances. And there is plenty of evidence to show that Head Start makes a big difference to kids later in life.

The Commission’s recent decision to oust the program to make more room for a ”state Gifts Shop” is ridiculous! If the leaders of our community would like to run a store to sell Kansas-made goods, I’m all for it. However, neither my Kansas pride nor my greed run so deep as to wish to take away the breakfast of 30 hungry three-year-olds. And I am deeply saddened to see that the County Commissioners value profits over people.

This decision is shameful to all who live in Dade County. The County Commissioners should reconsider the situation and revoke their decision immediately. I hope all readers will let the commissioners know how they feel about this terrible situation by calling them at 913-432-1200 or writing to them at the County Court House.

Sincerely,

Victoria Stein
3960 Mount Hope Drive
567-8095

EXAMPLE 4: WRITING A LETTER IN FAVOR OF A PROPOSED ACTION

Opinion Piece to the Jackson Free Press

The Center for Disease Control currently ranks Mississippi second in highest infant mortality rates in the nation—in 2016, the state lost 325 babies before their first birthday. Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that more than 900 infant lives per year may be saved in the United States if 90 percent of mothers exclusively breastfed for six months. This shows that if we want to improve the health outcome of babies and increase the number of those that reach their first birthday and beyond, we must center our efforts on removing systemic barriers to breastfeeding.

Moving the marker on breastfeeding and infant health takes the coordinated efforts of communities, hospitals, the government and industries to ensure that mothers’ rights to breastfeed are protected through policy, support, space and time. That is one reason why the Mississippi Urban League has partnered with the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi State Department of Health to take on the important work of developing and sustaining a culture of breastfeeding here in Mississippi. Our partnership, which the national BUILD Health Challenge funds, wants to change systems so that they will support, and never inhibit, our community’s efforts to be healthy.

We see the value of a supportive environment for breastfeeding as we work with parents who come to our SIPPS Baby Café, a place where moms and dads not only receive important health and wellness information, but also support from each other. Moms who come to the café say the network of support they receive helps them make the decision to start breastfeeding and motivates them to continue. Knowing that those women, many of whom are the only ones in their family to breastfeed, have someone to call or if they have questions or need encouraging words makes this work fulfilling. This is how we build sustainable support within the community.

In an effort to normalize breastfeeding, we bring breastfeeding out of the café and into the community. SIPPS M.O.B.s (Mothers Out Breastfeeding) provides opportunities for moms to breastfeed in public in a supportive group setting. These outings are designed to educate and sustain a culture of breastfeeding.

Our partnership also works with businesses to develop policies that allow mothers to use their break time to pump and store milk or breastfeed; and have lactation rooms and lactation education programs on site. We know that due to the absence of universal paid maternity leave, many mothers must return to work shortly after giving birth.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program to encourage implementation of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes,” in 1991. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or safely feed with formula, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is among the few Mississippi hospitals to be designated a “Baby-Friendly Hospital” and refers mothers to the SIPPS Baby Café to support and educate pregnant mothers, and support breastfeeding in a community setting. We understand that some mothers are unable to or choose not to breastfeed, and no one should infringe upon their rights to access breast-milk substitutes. Our collaborative effort is aimed at providing education, creating policies and developing supports to ensure that systemic barriers do not influence a mom’s decision not to breastfeed.

We know what is best for the long-term health of Mississippi children. All babies need a head start to have a healthy future. We know breastfeeding the future generation of babies is a part of making that future a brighter one. We must not let our nation’s stance on the World Health Organization’s breastfeeding resolution discourage us. We will continue from the ground up with the momentum we have created to ensure a healthy future for Mississippi children.

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