Separate But Equal?
The United States Supreme Court ruled in the laws on certification of teachers? Provide adult
1950s that segregating schools along racial
lines was unconstitutional. The state of Michi-
Or does the Legislature, and charter school
gan for the past five years has been trying to
advocates, truly believe that the cost of these
prove that segregation along other lines is eco- "frills” is $1,000 per student? After all, charter
schools will receive $5,500 per pupil while the
Charter schools are the wave of the future, we public school districts, under Proposal A, must
are told. Charter schools will bring competition provide basic education plus state-mandated
to the education arena, offer our parents more programs for $6,500.
choices in their children's education and force
And that's the figure for the "wealthier" dis-
the antiquated public school monopoly and its tricts, such as Farmington, West Bloomfield,
overpriced, underworked teachers to compete, Southfield, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and
we are told.
Oak Park. Other districts, such as Berkley
What we aren't told about are the dangers: Schools, receive even less.
Charter schools are being advocated by persons
Between the two — charter schools and Pro-
who believe they have found a legal way to pub- posal A — the public schools are being asked
licly fund religious education. Charter schools to do more for less. We won't argue that
have been given leeway by the Legislature to economies should not be made in public educa-
avoid the legal traps established by those same tion. Nor should we ignore the threat to the con-
legislators that have tripped up our public stitutional separation of church and state that
charter schools represent. Nor the balancing act
Will the new charter schools, whatever their between income tax, sales tax and property tax.
religious or non-religious background, be re-
But in reality, what we are seeing in Michi-
quired to provide special education facilities? gan, at a time when the country is crying out for
The public schools must. Will charter schools improved public education, are efforts to reduce
bus other private-school children who live in our schools to the lowest common denominator
their area to the private schools? The public in order to help fund special-interest education
schools must. Will charter schools be forced to and get a tax break.
comply with state laws on physical education
We can't have it both ways.
and health instruction? Will they follow the same
Last week's court actions initiated by the Office
of Special Investigations — the Justice Depart-
ment's Nazi-hunting unit — had a familiar and
depressing ring to them. Once again, it is pros-
ecuting two elderly men who allegedly were Nazi
collaborators. One, an 87-year-old resident of
Norwood, Mass., is said to have been the head
of the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian Security Po-
lice for Vilnius. The other is a 77-year-old retired
cook living in Gulfport, Fla., who is said to have
belonged to a Nazi-controlled Lithuanian mili-
tary group that killed thousands of Jews.
"Why bother?" some ask. Even if the law re-
v , quires full prosecution of known war criminals,
• LU isn't the idea of a powerful government spend-
z mg millions of dollars to prosecute feeble old men
cc) getting a little absurd?
We don't think so. It's important to remem-
that this legal process serves multiple film-
I– tons. One, of course, is simple justice: This nation
c , remains committed — and rightly so — to ap-
,`E prehending every major Nazi war criminal with-
, in our reach and to remedying our own shameful
Li., laxness in years past.
Secondly, OSI's ongoing activities are intended
to send a clear message to those who might com-
mit war crimes on a mass scale in the future.
Scaling back the Nazi-hunting effort would di-
lute that message. Worse, it would do so at a mo-
ment in history when we are witnessing new
spasms of ethnic violence in such places as
Bosnia and Rwanda.
The perpetrators of such heinous crimes need
to be told— in words and action— that civilized
nations will pursue them until their dying days.
The fact that we have been uneven in applying
that principle in the past is not a good reason to
abandon it today. It was wrong for the govern-
ment to admit upward of 10,000 former Nazis
in the 1950s and 1960s, but to ignore their pres-
ence now would compound that mistake.
And lest we forget: There are still Holocaust
survivors in our midst. Cutting back the Nazi-
hunting effort just because its targets are now
elderly would be an affront to countless survivors
who are elderly themselves and have a lifetime
of pain to remind them of the crimes of their tor-
OSI must be supported as it completes the fi-
nal chapter in this horror story. In fact, the fi-
nancially strapped agency needs greater funding
and staffing to take full advantage of the release
of information once secreted in government
archives in the former Soviet Union. To do less
would insult the millions of dead — and be an
invitation to mass killers of the future.
Isn't A Guarantee
The article points out the sad
fact that with concern about Is-
rael's safety receding, for many
Jews "nothing about our lives is
Jewish." The article suggests that
American Jews have little rea-
son to remain Jewish, other than
a shared social conscience in-
volving issues such as feeding the
hungry and supporting civil
rights. How depressing.
How wrong. There is an an-
swer to the question of what
American Jews have in common,
and it is upsetting that this an-
swer was not offered anywhere
in the article. What unites the
Jewish people is the Jewish reli-
If Judaism is to survive, it will
not be from teaching our children
about matzah balls or about fa-
mous Jews in American history,
as people quoted in the article
suggest. Rather, it must come
from teaching our children about
Jewish values and about what
God asks of Jews. These values
are taught in day schools and He-
brew schools, which today are
facing serious financial problems.
With American gifts to Israel
now totaling less than 1 percent
of Israel's GDP, sending nearly
half of Federation money to Is-
rael is no longer appropriate. It
is time for the American Jewish
community to make a truly sub-
stantial reallocation of Federa-
tion money toward Jewish
education, the only hope for the
long-term survival of the Jewish
Ruth and Stephen Harris
I am concerned regarding the
tone of your Sept. 9 article, "The
Waiting Game." The article high-
lights the lack of Jewish day care
for infants, as if adding the word
"Jewish" to their name makes
them a safe and caring environ-
ment for our children.
In this day and age, a well re-
spected, trusting, loving, honest
and clean day care should cer-
tainly take precedence over any-
thing simply labeled "Jewish."
My 4-year-old daughter has been
at First Impressions since five
months of age. My 22-month-old
son just started. First Impres-
sions "celebrates" no holidays.
They learn about them all, Jew-
ish, Christian, American (real life
in the '90s). They make latkes,
play dreidel, make matzah peo-
ple, have apples and honey and
dress for Halloween. On Christ-
mas, my then 3-year-old told me
"today we learned Christmas. We
don't have that holiday because
we're Jewish." Many of the teach-
ers at First Impressions are Jew-
ish, some are not. I personally
don't care. They are all trusting,
loving, kind, generous well
I'll put my daughter's "Jewish"
education there up against any.
Her life experiences probably far
exceed those she might receive
at a Jewish day care.
I certainly respect anyone's de-
cision to look for day care that
is "Jewish," but when it comes to
leaving your children in the care
of others, let's all remember what
is really important. Beef up the
Jewish education you provide at
home and remember what
counts when mom and dad can't In the August 12 edition, Associ-
ate Editor Elizabeth Applebaum
Judy Williams Weiner responds to the question, "Why
West Bloomfield is it that some people say 'West
Bank' and others use 'Judea and
Samaria'?" Her answer is both
inaccurate and biased. "What to
call these territories is an issue
only in non-Hebrew languages,"
On Sept. 14, a long front-page ar- writes Ms. Applebaum. "In Is-
ticle appeared in the Wall Street rael, everyone — regardless of
Journal about Jews in America. his political leanings — says
One of the headlines was "They Judea and Samaria, because
used to rally together to protect these are the standard, accepted
Holy Land; what unites them terms." This is incorrect. In fact,
now? Soup kitchens and Sein- many Israelis, because of their
WEST BANK page 24
Or West Bank?