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March 18, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-18

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OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, March 18, 1981

The MichiganDaily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Job experience: career path
or road to a low- income life

Vol. XCI, No. 15

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials .represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Wellhere we go again

EMBERS OF THE University
community have hardly
-recovered from the long, hard battle tor
defeat the Tisch II plan last November.
And the relentless Robert Tisch, the
drain commissioner from mid-state, is
back again with a new, equally
reckless plan to slash state taxes.
Tisch lurks in the wings of the state
capitol, waiting for the moment he can
again enjoy the public limelight as a
crusading tax reformer-albeit a
misguided one. Like a recurring
nightmare, a new Tisch tax plan, a
third one, is set and ready to appear on
the May ballot unless state legislators
can agree on an alternate tax proposal
before tomorrow at midnight.
But, before students and faculty
members drag the "Stop Tisch"
placards out of the closet and prepare
for another round, there is still hope
the plan can be blocked before the
ballot. The plan will not appear on this
spring's ballot unless state legislators
arrive at a stalemate over alternative
proposals.
Facultys ow
AFTER MORE than nine months of
bumbling through subcommit-
tees, guest speakersi. and long drawn-
o xmeetings, :b - faculty Senate'
Assembly finall ave its approval to
the "smaller but better" philosophy on
Monday.
Whether the Assembly knows it or
not, the University has been following
that philosophy for four months regar-
dless of the faculty's approval.
Certainly, the decision to support
"smaller but better'' was one that
required extensive discussion by both
Assembly members and the Senate
Assembly Committee on University
Affairs. But the academic bantering
that has gone on for weeks has only
proved an obstacle to the Assembly's
goals.
The budget crunch is here-now.
Expedient and well-thought planning is
what is needed, not long, drawn-out
debate.

Tisch and his supporters have said
they feel a third attempt to win voter
approval of his plan will be successful
because a new conservative mood of
"less government-less taxes" has
swept the state and the nation. State
tax payers, predicts Tisch, will simply
not stand for a continuation of the
present taxation. And he may well be
right.
There is a cry for tax reform in the
state, and legislators should heed it.
But, this tax reform mustbe moderate
and carefully designed. The Tisch III
proposal is neither.
Certainly, the majority of state
legislators, realizing that a tax cut as
severe as Tisch's would drastically
undercut essential state services, are
opposed to the radical plan. But, they
must also realize that if they allow pet-
ty political squabbles to block the ap-
proval of a reasonable tax plan, they
will be stuck with Tisch's.
But, if .the state legislators fail to
reach an agreement, then will be the
time to drag out the placards and head
for the Diag.
rn little world
Sadly, the Assembly's delay has only
shown the impoternce of the faculty in
the redirection of the University. The
administration has gone ahead with its
retrenchment proceedings without
significant faculty input. The faculty,
like some Neo-Nero, has fiddled while
its potential input in this decision-
making process has burned.
The Assembly has further reduced
the effect it could have on the Univer-
sity's retrenchment program by
tabling the discussion and vote on a
resolution concerning the faculty's role
in redirection. At its present rate, the
Assembly may reach a decision
around July.
The administration has shown it's
not going to wait around. The Senate
Assembly professes to have a substan-
tial role in University decision-
making; if it intends to play this role in
the University's redirection, it must
stop its superfluous bantering and
make some swifter decisions.

OAKLAND, CA. - Tommy Wong, a
sophomore at Skyline High School here, is
struggling through school, earning C's and
D's. He takes only four classes a
day-remedial writing, basic algebra, Mid-
west history, and gymnastics - and leaves at
12:30 p.m. to work at McDonald's.
He gets school credit for his fast food work,
which Tommy thinks is great. "It's good for
your skills. If I go here all the fast food places
will hire me."
WORK EXPERIENCE programs, in which
students receive high school credit for
working during the school day at jobs that of-
ten are low-skilled and pay minimum wage,
are intended to prepare students for careers.
But by substituting work for academic
classes, many students in work experience
jeopardize their chances to go to college or to
take demanding classes that would prepare
them for skilled work.
In Oakland high schools, which are 87 per-
cent non-white, about five percent of the
students are enrolled in work experience. It is
a low-income district, and students here often
face a trade-off: a choice between academic
enrichment and much needed cold cash.
Velda Warner, instructional vice-principal
at Castlemont High School, an East Oakland
school where 80 percent of the students'
families receive welfare, lays out the
student's dilemma. "The student needs the
job. He's pogr. His family is on welfare. He
needs that job to go out and buy a new shirt;
they need that money in their pocket." She
said, however, that for some students, the job
can lead to a successful career.
But the school's work experience coor-
dinator, Bill Ong, says that of the 60 students
in the program at Castlemont, about 45 are in
fast food or similar service jobs. Ong said
most of the work experience students are
unqualified for better jobs. He said that if his
students had typing and reading skills, he
could "place them immediately, no problem"
in better-paying clerical positions.
INSTEAD, THE students who lack these
skills are giving up what may be their only
chance to learn them in favor of immediate
cash. Students, however, don't feel they are

By Seth Rosenfeld
making a mistake.
Robert Staten, a 17-year-old Castlemont
senior, views his job at Burger King as the
first step in a business career. He hopes one
day to get a college degree in business and
own a fast food franchise. Yet his work
schedule denies him the chance to take many
college preparatory classes. Since he works
late - from 6 p.m. to midnight - he is ex-
cused from first and second periods in the
morning. Third period he takes a basic
business class, fourth period a required
history class, and during fifth and sixth"
period he sings with a school vocal group.
He doesn't worry about what he's missing,
since he says he's not interested in academic
classes. "Its business all the way. I've heard
there's a Burger King College that teaches
you how to run Burger Kings, so I might
check that out."
HAROLD ZUCKERMAN, principal of
Oakland's Fremont High School, notes that
the courses usually sacrificed to work ex-
perience are college preparatory classes like
advanced biology or pre-calculus. "Kids
aren't interested in enrichment," he said.
"It's the outlook they have - it's non-
academic in most cases.
"Besides, there are not many jobs out there
that are available to these kids and they know
it - there is nowhere for them to go. The per-
son into pre-calculus isn't going to take (work
experience) anyway. That's the kid who aims
for college. The day where the students took
the traditional English and Creative Writing
-now, that's rare."
Work experience counselors are quick to
point to success stories in the program, such
as students who become managers of fast
food restaurants. But many students have
trouble receiving promotions and pay raises.
a "McDONALDS SEES students as super-
efficient workers for less pay," work ex-
perience coordinator Ong says. "They don't
have to pay fringe benefits or guarantee
minimum hours like with an adult. So when it
gets slow they send Johnny home, which an,
adult worker would never stand for."

"When it is real slow, they make you take a
break with no pay, even if you are scheduled
for only three hours," said Bonnie Wong, a
work experience student at McDonald's from
Oakland High. She said she had been ordered
several times to punch in early too. "The
manager might give you a talking to if you
didn't. If you argue with them, they make you
punch out."
Dave McClain, the work experience coor-
dinator at Fremont and Skyline high schools,
defends the programs as providing valuable
experience. He points out, however, that the
money sometimes isn't as good as it sounds.
He gave a typical example of a student with a
minimum wage filing job at the Naval Air
Station in Alameda. He catches a bus from
school, which costs $1 and takes an hour each
way. He's there for three hours, gets paid
$3.35 an hour and grosses $10.15. Subtract bus
fare and $1 for snacks, perhaps, and he's
made $8 for five hours of his time.
Although work experience teachers oversee
the program to avoid employer abuses and to
make sure students are gaining something
tangible from their employment, the teachers
are stretched thin. The Oakland district's four,-
work experience counselors cover eight highs
schools, and each is responsible for about 125,
students. There are no formal work experien-
ce classes, due to a lack of funds, but coun-
selors visit job sites and are available to meet
students once a week at school. Counselors
estimate these meetings average only 15,,
minutes per student.
A more serious problem, according to
program critics like Oakland School Board
member Peggy Stinnett, is the lack of
preparation for skilled opportunities after
graduation. "The thing that bothers me is,
that a lot of kids who ought to be in the ..
classroom getting an education are wasting.r
time in these no-place-to-go jobs."
Says Stinnett, "At the end of the semester,
they're going to have a little experience at..
McDonald's and that's not going to buy them.;
much."
Seth Rosenfeld wrote this article for the
Pacific News Service.

Hig~gins

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
PIRGIM pushes for more privileges.

To the Daily:
In response to a recent story on
funding for the Public, Interest
Research Group in Michigan
(Daily, March 10), I would agree
with your report that it is likely
that the last thing on a student's
mind during registration is
PIRGIM.
The University administration

never agreed to allow PIRGIM to
use the registration system as the
"indoctrination-solicitation" of a
captive audience. The plan was to
use registration to collect signed
PIRGIM support forms, because
all students had to register.
Originally, PIRGIM wanted
the registration staff to collect
the forms, and never intended to

'GM owns Michigan'

have their own staff involved.
When the Registrar's Office
balked at paying staff to handle
this function, PIRGIM reluctan-
tly staffed the collection.
When student support began to
wane the collection evolved into
the present low-key pressure
sales pitch employed by the
PIRGIM staff, complete with
booth and multitudinous han-
douts which end up scattered
throughout the first two floors of
Lorch Hall, and are seldom
picked up by the PIRGIM staff.
If PIRGIM is, as it states, an
organization which is run by
students, for students, and
produces results, why ford it
complain about the need for
greater visibility?
PIRGIM hemann thei lnk f

formed the PIRGIM staff as to
the locations and times these
students registered, but PIRGIM
chose not to go to these locations.
Why does PIRGIM not utilize
the University's mailing list and
send a request to each student,
with as much information as it
deems necessary to gain support,
and let the response be truly.
voluntary?
I can only hope that PIRGIM'
can keep its constituents better
informed than Kent Wilcox,.
executive director of the:
Michigan Consumers Council,
who recently wrote to the Daily of
the need for students to "cheek-
off the $1.00 contribution box.. ..
on their tuition fee cards."
The box is actually on a tab at-
tached to the Student Verificatinn

-:'V "
t l - /

To the Daily:
All people should mourn the
Michigan State Supreme Court
ruling regarding the . fate of
Poletown. It was an insensitive
decree that placed a stable com-
munity and individual lives at the
merv. nf an nroan i'inutrv,,in o

will use their powers against the
people supposedly under their
protection. No longer will gover-
nment fulfill its obligation to ease
the diliatory effects of
unrestrained free enterprise.
If anything, this action only
,confirms a trend. For years, local
nffiinl h7' s h ~ 1onl- ,, -

. 1

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