1. Margaret Talbot spends a good ideal of the time at the outset of the essay describing the situation at Sarasota High School, yet her primary subject is neither the school nor its students. What is her rhetorical strategy in examining this one school in such depth?
If she had talked about many schools very briefly, I don't think there would be much impact towards the reader. But by talking about Sarasota High School in depth and focusing on how the valedictorians were a problem, it shows that she really knows her stuff. People like evidence and when you have good facts to support your answer, the more interesting it becomes. By taking on one school and giving all that information about it that she received, it made a bigger impact and acted as a base for her to more on to the other topics she wanted to talk about after reeling the reader in.
2. In paragraph 14, Talbot refers to her own experience in high school. What is the effect of this personal element?
By referring to her own personal experience in high school, it gives her essay even more support. She says "in Los Angeles had three or four AP classes when I graduated in 1979...now has 22". The article was published in around 2005. Mentioning her own experience shows how much education, in this AP classes, has changed within 26 years.
4.Why does Talbot rely so heavily on interviews with the students? Why would this approach appeal to her audience?
The interviews with the students are kind of like anecdotes. People would like them because it would show that it's personal, not just made up facts. Someone out there could probably relate to what one of the interviewers said. The interviews are evidence that supports Talbot's essay.
5. Beginning with paragraph 25, Talbot presents some historical background on the American high school. How would the effect of the information have changed if she had opened the article with it?
If she had opened the article with it, I doubt that many people would read it. Most of us don't like or care about historical facts, so obviously it would bore most of the readers. Also in paragraph 25, basically it says that the rich went to school and the poor often did not. In addition, only about 10 percent of adolescents, most likely children of the rich, were enrolled in high school and that the public funding was small. I think that if someone who is not rich, read that as the first paragraph, they would put the book down, feeling extremely offended and would not continue reading the rest, assuming that the article is degrading the poor. The people of the wealthier class would continue reading, thinking the article would be about how smart they are than the lower class back then. Either way, it would have a negative effect causing Talbot to lose readers.
6. Is the analogy Karen Arnold draws in the paragraph 32 valid? She says, "on the day we allow anybody who's always wanted to be quarterback player on the high-school football team, then we can get rid of the valedictorians."
Yes, it is valid. A valedictorian's spot should be earned. Why do we have auditions or try outs? Just for fun? No, it's to figure out who is the best or the one(s) that would be the best choice for something. The reason also is because some people are better at some things than others are, whether it be music-related, sports-related, or academically-related. Not everyone who wants to be the best or think they are the best at football can be the quarterback, the role of a very important and good player. Just like not how everyone who is smart can be the valedictorian just because they want to.