GRE Argument Essay 109
The following is a memo from the superintendent of the Mylar school district.
“A recent six-month study, in which breakfast was made available at school for 100 schoolchildren ages five to twelve, found that children on the breakfast plan were less likely than other children to be absent from or late for school. Clearly, eating breakfast before school plays a role in reducing student absenteeism and tardiness. It is also well known that children who regularly eat a healthful breakfast tend to perform better in school. Therefore, in order to reduce absenteeism and tardiness and to improve academic performance in all of Mylar’s elementary and secondary schools, we should provide breakfasts for all students before each school day.”
The superintendent of the Mylar school district recommends that breakfast should be provided to students in all schools in order to reduce absenteeism and tardiness as well as improve the overall academic performance of the students. The superintendent supports his recommendation by citing the results of a recent six-month study on 100 students in the age group of 5 to 12 years. The results have shown that students who were provided breakfasts at school were less likely to be absent or tardy as compared to the other students. Furthermore, the superintendent supports his recommendation by utilizing the fact that regularly eating healthy breakfasts improves academic performance. Nevertheless, a close scrutiny of the argument reveals many fallacies that render the argument unconvincing.
The argument relies heavily on the results of the six-month study, which in itself is questionable. Firstly, since the study was conducted only on 100 students, it would be unfair to assume that the results of this study would hold true for all the school students in the district because of the different family backgrounds and attitude of the students across the district. It is possible that these 100 students were from poor families and the prospect of getting breakfasts at school made them reach school well in time. On the other hand, it is likely that the students who were a part of this study were disciplined students who were tardy and regular before the study as well. Therefore, providing them with breakfast would not have changed their tardiness and absenteeism at all. The results of the study could have been substantiated to an extent if the arguer had included information about the students’ behaviors prior to the conduct of the study. A comparison between their behaviors when they were not provided breakfasts at school with those after they were regularly eating daily breakfasts could have made the results of the study convincing enough.
The arguer mentions that the study was carried out on students in the age group of 5 to 12 years, but he does not provide the breakdown of the students with respect to their ages. It is likely that a majority of the students participating in the study were less than 8 years of age who have not yet formed their likes and dislikes with respect to the food being eaten. Older children may object to certain types of food and they may be more selective in eating what is being served. Therefore, it is likely that the older students in the study did not even eat what was being served to them, thereby rendering the results unsuitable for effective implementation across the district.
The arguer assumes that all the schools would provide healthy breakfasts to the students leading to improved academic performance. However, the argument makes no reference to the steps that have been taken to ensure that the school children will be served healthy breakfast. Hence, the fact that children who regularly eat a healthful breakfast tend to perform better in school, lends no support to the recommendation made by the arguer.
The argument could have been rendered convincing to an extent if the arguer had provided evidence which proved that the 100 students who participated in the study actually attended school regularly and were punctual because of the breakfasts that were provided to them. Additionally, there is a requirement of proving that the students will be provided healthy breakfasts so that they are actually able to do well academically. In conclusion, the recommendation made is specious in view of the inadequate evidence provided in its support.