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May 28, 1968 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1968-05-28

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s i £Danai
Seventy-seven years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the Pniversity of Michigan
under authority of Board in Control of Student Publications

stuffy school

board in need of


420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-05521

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily exp ress the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.

TUESDAY, MAY 28, 1968


Why in hell is the VW
parked on the living room rug.

THE REASONS behind a city proposal
e l i m i n a t i n g on-street parking
throughout Ann Arbor from 2 a.m. to 5
a.m. are one-sided, unrealistic and gen-
erally specious. Under the guise of pro-
tecting the rights of the citizens, the
proposed parking ban would turn the
current parking situation, chaotic at best,
into an unbelievable morass of unpaid
parking tickets and impounded cars.
Ann Arbor traffic and parking engineer
John E. Robbins justified the pending
ordinance, currently awaiting City Coun-
cil action, on the grounds that it would
facilitate street maintenance, and elim-
inate mugging on the streets. Muggers,
Robbins said, hide between parked cars
and then jump their victims. Besides,
Robbins continued, olde English common
law states that streets are for the move-
ment of vehicles, not for their storage.
-Apparently, students whose apartment
houses are required by city law to pro-
vide only one and one-third parking
spaces per apartment regardless of the
number of tenants per unit will have to
find other places to park at night. Rob-
bins was confident that students could
find spaces in parking structures and
lots vacated by University staff at night.
He fails to take into account the fact
that these lots and structures are often
located miles from concentrations of stu-
dent dwellings; and must be empty of
nocturnally stored cars by 8 a.m.

SINCE ROBBINS is so concerned with
the welfare of the residents of Ann
Arbor and their parking problems, he
could easily kill two birds with one stone.
By razing alternate buildings on each
block, the city could pave the empty lots
and use them for parking cars at night
while destroying potential lairs for mug-
Befpre Robbins puts his authority be-
hind so radical a plan, however, he
should take a walk on Oakland, or Dewey,
or South Forest, or any number of resi-
dential streets at 4 a.m. It seems un-
likely that he would find the parked
cars a great impediment to the heavy
traffic flow on those residential streets
at that hour. In addition, most of the
pedestrians whose potential rights are
liable to be violated by muggers will be
If City Council carefully considers the
horrendous inconvenience that the pro-
posed parking ban would inflict on stu-
dents and the permanent residents of
Ann Arbor, it will defeat the proposal,
and refuse to reconsider it until a more
pressing need is met: Supplying adequate
parking facilities for the cars which cur-
rently park on the streets for lack of
spaces in the too few lots and too dis-
tant structures.

HE ANN ARBOR Board of Ed-
ucation seems perpetually en-
grossed in the dismal task of
laboriously trimming its budget.
Their desperate hope is that
juggling with a maze of figures
will yield an amount sufficient for
the school system to, carry on
some semblance of operation and
be provided for by whatever
meagre increase in the millage
can be painfully extracted from
the voters.
One suspects occasionally that
all of this' analysis and debate
of the "nitty gritty" of the school
system's operation is bound to re-
sult in a severe case of myopia for
at least a few. They are in grave
danger of losing sight of the
needs of the children they are
supposedly trying to educate in
the host of fiscal complications
which for some reason the process
This year's school election, how-
ever, promises a refreshing oppor-
runity for Ann Arbor educators and
voters to be pleasantly diverted
from their intricate computations
and to behold the spectacle of
youth speaking out against op-
pression by nerve-ridden middle-
aged adults.
This is the essential message
conveyed by Bill Ayers' campaign
slogan "The trouble with the
schools is that there are too many
grown-ups on the school board."
Ayers is director of the hyper-
experimental Children's Commu-
nity School in Ann Arbor. His
campaign for a seat on the Ann
Arbor Board of Education is being
sponsored by the New Politics Par-
ty as an attempt to stimulate de-
bate on issues of basic educational
philosophy. And in this way to
bring to light the need for overall
changes in education which has
long been ignored in the futile
preoccupation with c o m l e x
schemes to keep the present cum-
bersome system operating.
AYERS' fundamental dissatis-
faction with the existing educa-
tional system amounts to a pro-
test against the intolerableness of
a situation where the school sys-
tem's manifold concerns - the
myriad of programs it has pains-
takingly inaugurated over the
years-all seem to have been ele-
vated to the importance of ab-
solute essentials. The process has
naturally resulted in a severe un-
dermining of the schools' sup-
posedly primary purpose-the in-
tellectual development of the stu-
Ayers' campaign, is one of
countless manifestations of a
growing discontent with the "sys-
tem." And it has in common with
other radical movements a multi-
tude of charges which are so true
that they are in danger of be-
coming truisms.
But the discerning voter will
realize that behind Ayers' rather
unique call for "child power," his
campaign provides a fairly co-
gent answer to the question "what
do you people want?" for many
who seek to completely revamp
the present educational system.
Ayers and the other New Poli-
tics candidate for school board,
Joan Adams, are in complete
agreement about the grossly un-
fair treatment of blacks and low
income students in the public
school system.
Ayers, who is not likely to be
the ,,last in a succession of mal-
contents, refuses to be satisfied
with the proliferationofsefforts
and even greater profusion of
promises to right at least a few of
the crying deficiencies in our
His attack on the Ann Arbor
schools is more radical than that
of Joan Adams, the other New Po-
litics candidate.
"It disturbs me that there is a
lot of concern in this country
about education, but that most of


The end of a courtship

YESTERDAY the Supreme Court, long
revered as the keeper of the sacred
flamne,acknowledged publicly that its
precious fire had disintegrated into a
puff of smoke.
In a 7-1 decision, with Justice Doug-
las offering another of his lonely and
courageous dissents, the High Court
overturned a lower court ruling and up-
held the constitutionality of a law mak-
ing the burning of a draft card worth
five years in prison.
What the Warren Court found was
that draft card burning as "symbolic
speech" is not covered by the broad
penumbra of the First Amendment and
that the power to regulate the use of
draft cards stems directly from the gov-
ernment's military powers.
As reprehensible as yesterday's deci-
sion was, it is difficult to deny that the.
Court had a point. For as it appears to
the layman, the entire doctrine of "sym-
bolic speech" and its implicit protection
by the First Amendment appears mani-
festly contrived and convoluted.
PERHAPS a more plausible defense
would have been that the law is in
itself a "cruel and unusual punishment"
since it prescribes up to five years in
prison as the penalty for destroying a
blatantly non-essential piece of white
The problem with such a defense is
that it would seem to lead to the logical
extension that there are some salutory
and quite common penalties for burn-
ing one's draft card.
The disheartening fact underlying all
this speculative talk about legal options
is that the constitutional protection for
unpopular or dangerous minoriies ex-
tends little beyond the bare necessities
of freedom of speech, assembly and re-
ligion. In light of the weakness of the
Constitution when arrayed against the
awesome military powers of the Execu-
tive Branch, it is difficult to regard the
Supreme Court as a significant bastion
against militarism gone mad.
FVEN WERE the Constitutional provi-
sions available to check the prodigal-
ity of the Pentagon, there are important
institutional barriers which stand in the
way of the Court's ever living up to the
FROM Quotable Quotes on Education
(Wayne State University Press, 1968)
that has the schools has the future
(p. 204).

touching esteem in which so many who
are alienated from other aspects of the
governmental system hold it.
In a sense the Supreme Court is the
step-child of the other two branches of
the government, for its membership is
almost totally controlled by the Execu-
tive and, as the infamous Title II of the
Crime Control bill so vividly reminds us,
Its jurisdiction is theoretically under the
suzerainty of the Congress.
This vulnerable position has made the
Court understandably wary of intruding
further on the toes of the all-too-easily
aroused Congress. And despite the epoch-
making decisions of the past decade,
there have always been serious doubts
among many justices whether policy-
making, regardless of the rectitude of
these doctrines, was the proper function
of the judiciary.
REFLECTING both of these institu-
tional constraints is the Court's pain-
ful and embarrassing reluctance in chal-
lenging the military decisions of the
Executive, no matter how badly they
mangle the precepts of the Constitution.
This legalistic cowardice ranges from
the upholding of the legality of the Ni-
sei internment camps during World War
II to the Court's inability to see any
conflict between the draft and the Thir-
teenth Amendment's abolition of "invol-
untary servitude."
The Court's reluctance to confront the
Vietnam war indicates that despite the
apparent militancy of the Warren Court,
the Supreme Court was never designed
to be and never really considered itself
the panacea branch of our government.
The Court's actions which unleashed
Congressional attacks on its "radical-
ism," can easily be interpreted within
the framework of the Court's traditional
role. The Court's most radical restructur-
ing came about in criminal justice, the
area - Congress to the contrary - that
the Court considers uniquely its own.
Such landmark abuses as segregation
in the schools and prayers in the class-
room were blatantly un-constitutional.
And many on the Court are quite likely
regretting the Court's intrusion on the
legislative prerogatives with its series
of reapportionment decisions.
Thus the Court's actions since 1954
were an often misunderstood boon rather
than a viable Constitutional protection
of oppressed minorities.
THE WAR in Vietnam has tragically
illustrated against a sky of fire the
.vast unchecked powers at the disposal
of the whims of the modern President.
The impotence of Congress, assuming it
had the will, to do anything but meekly

it is concentrated on the problems
of black and low income students.
The problems of the suburban
schools are passed over briefly or
are not considered problems at
all. Rather, suburban schools are
viewed as models for inner city
schools to emulate."
They have failed abysmally to
perceive that many of the prob-
lems of ghetto schools, such as the.
rigid and irrelevant curricula, the
authoritarian teaching and un-
responsiveness to; students and
community, are actually exagge-
rated manifestations of funda-
mental ailments in the prevailing
American educational system it-
"It is not the obvious kids who
are being ruined," hessays. "Far
more important are the ways those
of us who succeed have suceeded."
AYERS SPEAKS primarily for
those who have "made it" in the
public schools but who have failed
to find any significant rewards in
their success.
He contends that although pub-
lic schools are still producing
'successes" as well as dropouts,
success in the existing educational
institutions is worse than mean-
ingless-it signifies the ability to
function within a system built
upon a totally perverted value
Ayers' model is proferred as the
outgrowth of a radical analysis
of the failures of the public school
system. He points out to an in-
tellectual oppressiveness in the
very core of American education.
This consists essentially in the
tyranny of structure ove content,
of arbitrary categories and re-
quirements over broader concerns.
This is a problem that many
have long bewailed but to which
virtually no coherent solutions
have as yet been offered.
THE PRESENT generation par-
ticuarly finds it difficult to en-
vision what the basic ends of
education could possibly look like,
in a clearly drawn format or what
realization of those ends would
mean in concrete terms.
And its poverty of imagination
is equalled only by its formidable
fear of proceding without fixed
guidelines. The result has been an
obsessive clinging to a structure
which seems to have largely lost
its function.
"It is my belief," says Ayers,
"that kids in the schools are being
oppressed in some very funda-
mental ways. They are being done
a grave disservice by being led to
believe that learning is a process
of gaining knowledge-of picking

up facts, collecting wisdom, filling
themselves up with what someone
else has to offer.'
"Learning becomes a way of
tricking the guy who knows the
answers into giving the answers.
Thus .kids are robbed of growth
and development in very fund-
amental ways."
Ayers' value here seems to be
above all a kind of spontaneity
and naturalness. And the under-
lying assumption, however vaguely
articulated, is that there is some
sort of spiritual nature of man-
kind which is ironically being
stifledbymanmade institutions.
The driving thrust of all of Ayers'
educational theories is toward
liberating the human spirit from
the fetters that currently bind it.
Like most ,constraints, they,
spring from certain unwarranted
fears regarding human nature,
and with respecti to schools, cer-
tain misconceptions about chil-
dren which are the inevitable re-
sult of viewing them from a
warped adult perspective,
"IT MAKES a lot more sense,"
Ayers contends, "to allow kids to
develop their own structure with-
out the imposition of adult values.
Kids should be given the freedom
to decide what kind of learning
they want to do. This will succeed
because there's not a kid alive
who's not curious. What kids fun-.
damentally want to do is to make
sense out of the world."
Adult objections to this meth-
od generally include the notion
that there are some kids who -
don't want to do anything. But
Ayers insists that "every kid wants
to do something and' that some-
thing, whatever it may be, is in-
variably tied up with growth."
Ayers places incredibly high
hopes in youth as a potential
source of moral regeneration for
society. He sees children as un-
corrupt beings and believes that
if they are rescued from an edu-
cational system -that continually
stifles them, there would be no
predicting the bounds in terms of
the intellectual and social ad-
vancement of future generations.
AYERS' peculiarmbrand of
utopianism consists mainly in a
refusal to substitute weird and ,
wonderful new constraints for the
outmoded and decrepit existing
ones. It takes, rather, the only
remaining. alternative and de-
mands an extreme variety of in-
dividual self-determination - an
order in which the growth and
development of each individual
becomes the ultimate value - alt

order that naturally demands a
child-centered educational system.
Bill Ayers and the New Politics
Party generally are exceedingly
aware of the close link-up be-
tween the educational system and
the overall social 'system. This
realization is one of the key rea-
sons, besides the indomitable
American'faith in youth, for this
particularly energetic school board
campaign. Lacking 'a detailed
blueprint for total social trjns-
formation, they consider it all the
more important to find specific
areas to work in.
"The ultimate goal," says Ayers,
"I suppose, is some sort of jus-
tice. None of us knows what that
looks like or how we are going to
get it."
A PARTICULARLY significant
phenomenon in this rather broad-
ly based movement, which seems
to feel no need for clearly defined
tactics or clearcut goals, is its ex-
traordinary emphasis on a local
kind of democracy. "Community
control is essential," says Ayers.
"In order for any institution to be
democratic, it has to be controlled
by the people affected."
This unusual stress on local
control is one of the reasons for
Ayers' carefree attitude toward
the election results. Although \he'
cheerfully asserts "There's no rea-
son I shouldn't win. Things are

so bad in education nationwide.
that anything with a breath of
life to it might catch on," victory
does not seem to be an obsession
with him.
AYERS is just as carefree in
his assertion .that "It would be a
lot healthier if people started los-
ing elections so that in the long
run they could -start accomplish-
ing something." .He envisions his
campaign as an excellent oppor-
tunity to do some organizing
among students, teachers, parents,
and other concerned persons in
the community who are radically
dissatisfied with the current edu-
cational system. He is orimarify
interested in doing intense work
with Whatever number of people
can be reached.
Ayers also feels that this type O
of campaign has definite possi-
bilities for "starting people who
are criticizing the schools to think
about what's wrong in, general."
He fully recognizes his campaign
is an "essentially radializing ex-
perience." And that it "makes
radical demands upon the school A
system and on people's concep-
tions of what the school system is
supposed to be."
Besides Ayers inherent interest
in education, his campaign for a
seat on the Ann Arbor school
board was inspired by the fact
that "It is a, good base issue be-
cause white middle class people
are already hung up on it." The
middle class in!America, perhaps
more than any other, devotes a
large portion of time and energy
in- educating its children.
By pointing up the fundamen- *
tal rottenness which oermeates
one of their deepest dailybcon-
cerns, Ayers hopes to be able to
"build to broader issues."
MOREOVER, a revolution in
education itself would be a high-
ly significant one because it is t
an area where the sources of dis-
content with the total system are
found to 'be most manifest. The
conflict between means and ends
which crops up in so many pro-
test movements is perhaps most
intense in the educational sys-
And the opportunities for bring-
ing processes into harmony with
ultimate goals are more abundant
in education than in any other
social institution. There is prob-
ably no greater potential any-
where else for the practice of pute
democracy. And the impact of a
reform which strikes at the heart
of the distorting influence of so-
cial institutions is incalculable.

i' "
n.-.Andthey" said it
A couldn't beadone
N A LIFETIME hardly graced by a record of infallibility, the one
dogma to which I cling now is that there are no sure things.-in
history, in politics, in Wall Street, in games or any other area of the
human condition.
No voice is more repugnant than the one beginning: "Look, I per-
sonally like your idea, but it's obviously impractical and unrealistic."
I heard that refrain anew the other day when I was arguing that
the U.S. should publicly and vigorously propose a cease fire in Vietnam
while the talks continue. My point was no more complex than the
notion, repeatedly advanced' by this newspaper, tlat perhaps the
cruellist casualties of war are those suffered during the interlude of
peace negotiations.
"I entirely agree with your sentiment," a learned friend said,
"but you know the other side would never really go along with it. It's
just not workable."
The remarks brought back memories of so many other conver-
sations, utterances and published pronouncements in which men with
recognized credentials proclaimed their certainties.
HEREWITH is a random recollection of such assertions, recorded
with no claim of my own prescience in disputing these prophets.


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1 #11


1938: "A Nazi-Soviet pact? That's the damnest nonsense I ever
heard. It just couldn't happen." (Pact signed Aug. 22, 1939.)
1940: "I certainly admire Churchill, but you have to admit Britain
is through. We've got to look out for ourselves."
1942: "Anybody who thinks this war will be over in less than
10 years must be dreaming."
1943: "Is Henry Wallace really out of his mind? Now he's talking
about 60,000,000 jobs for Americans after the war. What crazy thought
will he have next?"
1948: (Spring): "I just ran into this guy who says he's convinced
Harry Truman will win. Some people just can't face reality."
1948: "You don't really take seriously those rumors about Tito
breaking with Stalin, do you? Any high school kid knows that you
don't have splits in the Communist world."
1951: "Look, I don't like Joe McCarthy methods either, but you
know any politician who stands up against him iscommitting suicide.
He's going to be around for a long time-hell, he's only 42 now."
1954: "People who say there could be a Sino-Soviet split are just
playing the Communist game. Didn't you read what Dean Rusk said
the other night?"
1958 (Spring): "You know the only reason they gave Rockefeller
the nomination is because they know the Democrats have it in the bag."
1960: "One thing is sure-Jack Kennedy won't take Lyndon John-
son as his running-mate. There'd be a rebellion."
1965: "I don't blame anyone for admiring John Lindsay, but every-
one who knows anything about New York politics knows a Republican
can't win in this town."
1966: "Does Hanoi really think it can hold out now that our planes
are really hitting them? They must be out of this world. Did you read
Joe Alsop yesterday?"
1967: "You bet on the Red Sox to win the pennant? You must
be a masochist.
1968 (January): "Johnson decide not to run? You must be living
in Disneyland...
1968 (February): "Look, he may be a very decent man but you
know McCarthy will be knocked out in New Hampshire. It's obvious."



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