SAT Essay Prompt from April 2019 SAT Test
As you read the passage below, consider how Marilyn Johnson uses:
- evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
- reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
- stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.
Adapted from Marilyn Johnson,"U.S. public libraries: We lose them at our peril" ©2010 by the Los Angeles Times. Originally published July 6, 2010
1 The U.S. is beginning aninteresting experiment in democracy: We're cutting public library funds, shrinkingour public and school libraries, and in some places, shutting them altogether.
2 These actions have nothing todo with whether the libraries are any good or whether the staff provides usefulservice to the community. This country's largest circulating library, inQueens, N.Y., was named the best system in the U.S. last year by LibraryJournal. Its budget is due to shrink by a third. Los Angeles libraries arebeing slashed, and beginning this week, the doors will be locked two days aweek and at least 100 jobs cut. And until it got a six-month reprieve June 23,Siskiyou County almost became California's only county without a publiclibrary. Such cuts and close calls are happening across the country. We won'tmiss a third of our librarians and branch libraries the way we'd miss a thirdof our firefighters and firehouses, the rationale goes . . . but I wonder.
3 I've spent four years followinglibrarians as they deal with the tremendous increase in information and themany ways we receive it. They've been adapting as capably as any profession,managing our public computers and serving growing numbers of patrons, but itseems that their work has been all but invisible to those in power. I've talkedto librarians whose jobs have expanded with the demand for computers andtraining, and because so many other government services are being cut. Thepeople left in the lurch have looked to the library, where kind, knowledgeableprofessionals help them navigate the government bureaucracy, apply forbenefits, access social services. Public officials will tell you they lovelibraries and are committed to them; they just don't believe they constitute a"core" service.
4 But if you visit publiclibraries, you will see an essential service in action, as librarians helppeople who don't have other ways to get online, can't get the answers theyurgently need, or simply need a safe place to bring their children. I've stoodin the parking lot of the Topeka and Shawnee County Library in Kansas on aSunday morning and watched families pour through doors and head in alldirections to do homework or genealogical research, attend computer classes,read the newspapers. I've stood outside New York city libraries with otherself-employed people, waiting for the doors to open and give us access to thecomputers and a warm and affordable place to work. I've met librarians whoserve as interpreters and guides to communities of cancer survivors,Polish-speaking citizens, teenage filmmakers, veterans.
5 The people who welcome us tothe library are idealists, who believe that accurate information leads to gooddecisions and that exposure to the intellectual riches of civilization leads toa better world. The next Abraham Lincoln could be sitting in their library,teaching himself all he needs to know to save the country. While they help usget online, employed and informed, librarians don't try to sell us anything.Nor do they turn around and broadcast our problems, send us spam or keep arecord of our interests and needs, because no matter how savvy this professionis at navigating the online world, it clings to that old-fashioned value,privacy. (A profession dedicated to privacy in charge of our public computers?That's brilliant.) They represent the best civic value out there, an army ofresourceful workers that can help us compete in the world.
6 But instead of putting suchconscientious, economical and service-oriented professionals to work helpingus, we're handing them pink slips. The school libraries and public libraries inwhich we've invested decades and even centuries of resources will disappearunless we fight for them. The communities that treasure and support theirlibraries will have an undeniable competitive advantage. Those that don't willwatch in envy as the Darien Library in Connecticut hosts networking breakfastsfor its out-of-work patrons, and the tiny Gilpin County Public Library inColorado beckons patrons with a sign that promises "Free coffee, Internet,notary, phone, smiles, restrooms and ideas."
7 Those lucky enough to live inthose towns, or those who own computers, or have high-speed Internet serviceand on-call technical assistance, will not notice the effects of a diminishedpublic library system—not at first. Whizzes who can whittle down 15 millionhits on a Google search to find the useful and accurate bits of info, and thoseable to buy any book or article or film they want, will escape the immediateconsequences of these cuts.
8 Those in cities that haven'tpreserved their libraries, those less fortunate and baffled by technology, andour children will be the first to suffer. But sooner or later, we'll all feelthe loss as one of the most effective levelers of privilege and avenues ofreinvention—one of the great engines of democracy—begins to disappear.
Write an essay in which you explain how Marilyn Johnson builds an argument to persuade his audience that Americans need to work fewer hours. In your essay, analyze how Marcus Stern uses one or more of the features listed in the box above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.
Your essay should not explain whether you agree with the author's claims, but rather explain how Marcus Stern builds an argument to persuade his audience.
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