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October 08, 1997 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-08

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 8, 1997

be Bidiligau alig

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Dailys editorial board. All
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Funding fiasco
Legislature bungles school budgeting

'It's something that you're not allowed to admit that you have.
Everyone is affected by it. Everyone knows someone who's
affected by it. We want to let people know It's out there.'
-LSA senior Summer Berman, at Monday's Diag
Scream-In for mental health awareness
a~y ac~a aoa aavvd LS tS WF Yt
a Q ,, F oP F R~. .t '1"N t1 CA

iven the state's history of short-
changing education funding, recent
trends in the state Capitol are not particu-
larly surprising - but they still threaten
students across Michigan. In August, Gov.
John Engler vetoed a budgetary measure
that would alleviate the special-education
funding gap that plagues many districts
- the Democrat-controlled state House
responded by voting down Engler's
action. The education of the state's youth
must not suffer at the hands of political
rivalries in Lansing - Engler and the leg-
islature should provide adequate funding
for its public schools, and rectify past
The state failed to provide adequate
money for special education programs at
schools across the state, in clear violation of
the Headlee Amendment to the state consti-
tution. In response, several of the jilted
schools filed a class-action lawsuit against
the state to recover the funds in 1980. After
years of bouncing around lower courts, the
Michigan State Supreme Court ruled in
favor of the schools in July, ordering the
state to recompense the schools' coffers for
years of financial abuse.
Last week, the state legislature's two
political parties each hatched their own
plans to fill the judicial order. Both plans
would take money from the Budget
Stabilization Fund, the state's "rainy day
fund," to compensate the plaintiffs' short-
fall. The Democrat-controlled House's plan
would pay the remainder of state schools
$77 million a year, while Engler's plan calls
for $768 million in 15-year bonds.
However, in time, the bonds would have to
be paid back - the governor's plan unnec-
essarily delays the inevitable.

Both plans also unfairly break the state's
. schools into two groups - those that sued
the state and those that did not.
Some schools did not have the financial
resources to participate in the lengthy law-
suit, but they should still receive their due.
The legislature should pay back all of the
schools - whether or not they were plain-
tiffs in the lawsuit.
The day after the court's decision, Engler
vetoed $252 million in funding to help "at-
risk" children. This would have been a $32
million increase over fiscal year 1996-97.
The bill also included an extra $66.7 mil-
lion to alleviate the present special educa-
tion shortcoming and to prevent future law-
suits against the state. Though he promised
to replace $230 million, Engler's actions
threaten to damage programs that help keep
at-risk children in school.
Last week, the state legislature approved
restoring $232 million for at-risk children.
This modest $2 million increase is not as
attractive as the funding that would have
been provided in the initial plan. However,
Engler should sign the bill, ensuring that the
state does not make up for past errors by
taking funding away from students and pro-
grams that need it.
The state has wronged its schools for
years. By evading the dictums of the
Headlee Amendment, Engler and state leg-
islators defied the state's duty to provide
special-education students with adequate
resources.. At the same time, the state
should not threaten funding to help at-risk
students. Engler should end his vendetta
against public schools - the state should
recompense school districts and ensure that
the grave funding inequity does not occur


Puffing Earthefirst
Environmental issues retain their importance

M ore conservation goals have been
met, the Clinton White House is gen-
erally friendly to the environment and more
businesses are environmentally sound.
While these trends may appear to signify
the end of environmental front page news,
there are causes that still need publicity, and
organizations that still need donations.
For example, the American arm of
Greenpeace International, as a result of
tactical mistakes and waning public inter-
est in the environment, has suffered a
drastic decrease in donations and mem-
bership. But now, while undergoing
intense soul-searching, it decided to close
down all 10 of its permanent branch
offices in the United States. The prob-
lems leading up to Greenpeace's downsiz-
ing are similar to those many environ-
mental groups are experiencing - and
may signify a growing environmental
apathy among the public. Something
needs to be done.
Greenpeace fills a certain niche within
environmental activism - it must examine
its current difficulties to figure what went
wrong, and more important, what must be
changed. The main problem Greenpeace
faces lies in its inability to adjust and retain
the fickle public's support. Today, environ-
mental issues hinge more on complex
trade-offs, instead of all-or-nothing
approaches. Because of this, Greenpeace
suffers accusations of more self-promotion
than environmental promotion.
Greenpeace lost a flagship issue when
whaling drew national attention - its tac-
tics became more familiar, thus losing its
initial shock value. Greenpeace also lost a
sense of its own broad international mis-

tives like providing behind-the-scenes help
to local environmental groups. These prob-
lems, along with poor management, forced
Greenpeace to shut down its branches in the
United States, end its door-to-door
fundraising and lay off 335 of its 400 staff
members. However, in lieu of past mishan-
dling, Greenpeace should remain confident
and optimistic - leaving past problems
Corporations hire lobbyists and regular-
ly flex their muscle in state capitols and in
Washington. As long as environmental
issues remain, organizations like
Greenpeace are necessary - legislators
need to hear both sides of complex environ-
mental issues.
Even though environmentalism is not
as trendy as it once was, problems such as
global warming and rain forest destruc-
tion still exist. Downsizing Greenpeace
will have significant and dire environ-
mental effects, especially in third-world
countries. While every arm of Greenpeace
International contributes to the support of
these needy nations, the U.S. branch set
aside about 18 percent of its yearly pro-
ceeds to such nations - one of only four
countries with such a large donation.
Greenpeace contributes much to the
environment, but it can continue to do so
only with increased activism and funding.
The poor decision-making of the past needs
quick remedy - Greenpeace must recoup
and reunite under a new sense of self and
under a well-defined mission. With the
changes that it promises - reduced debt
and a narrowing focus on campaign tactics
- Greenpeace will once again be able to
tweak public interest in and support for

squad' erases
QUP chalking
I have never known of a
student group that goes out
chalking and wakes up the
next morning to find that
before 9 a.m., their chalkings
have been completely washed
away by the University's
"Graffiti Squad."
Except for Queer Unity
Project, that is.
This happens with regu-
larity to QUP - every year,
when National Coming Out
Week rolls around. It is a sad
and tiresome tradition that
needs to come to an end.
Either the University should
remove all student group
chalkings within 10 hours of
their appearance, or should
leave them alone for a few
Sobriety is a
In response to Greg
Stevens' letter ("Banning
alcohol would not address the
problem" 10/6/97), I would
like to make a clarification.
I never proposed that alco-
hol be made illegal, nor did I
suggest that alcohol is devoid
of benefit, despite the heading
that was given to my letter. I
agree with Stevens that ban-
ning alcohol is not a realistic
solution. The period of
Prohibition is clear evidence
that it is practically impossible
to impose a law that the mass-
es are unwilling to accept.
Living alcohol-free must be a
personal choice. It is about
realizing that extra fun is not
worth the risk that drinking
entails. It is about preferring
the full ability to reason over
excessive laughter. While the
government cannot ban alco-
hol, we still retain the com-
plete choice to renounce it.
MLK's is a
Affirmative action may be
"un-American," but as a
woman of color, I am aware
that racism and discrimina-
tion unfortunately are not just
like baseball, hot dogs and
apple pie. Affirmative action
in any form, past, present or

allows a lot of people to get
their foot in the door that
would be closed otherwise.
Being judged by lesser
standards is not what is most
insulting. What is insulting is
the widespread ignorance
about the idea that we as a
society have now reached a
point where we are collective-
ly judging people by the con-
tent of their character and
merit, as opposed to the color
of their skin, religious back-
ground or sexual orientation,
and even better yet, believe it
to be the norm. Let us face
the truth: This hope is very
optimistic, but for the most
part, unrealistic. Martin
Luther King, Jr.'s dream, at
least at this point, has turned
out to be Langston Hughes'
"Dream Deferred."
To address the issue of the
"stirred up resentment" felt
by some whites in response to
the letter "Affirmative action
is no longer 'necessary"'
(10/5/97), 1 am not sure that
it is resentment that they are
feeling. I suggest it is the slap
on the face by a system that
is no longer working for them
like they think it should. In a
nutshell, affirmative action is
an admirable attempt to right
a wrong of years of unfair
and unjust treatment of peo-
ple in the United States.
Perhaps now its effects are
trickling down their way, and
it does not feel good.
Can a word be its own
antonym? Confused by the
use of the word "discrimi-
nate" appearing so ofen in
discussions, publications,
etc., I decided to look it up in
the dictionary. The basic def-
inition, of course, is "to dis-
tinguish; to mark or perceive
distinguishing features."
Subsequent definitions,
doubtless added as clarifica-
tions to this initial attempt,
were less easily digested: "to
use good judgment," and "to
make a difference in treat-
ment or favor on a basis
other than individual merit."
These latter two are rather
contradictory. Perhaps the
value-laden connotations
added on to the original, rela-
tively direct definition, are
the source of the difficulty.
Many persons seeking to
address issues relating to the
selective process or choice-
making are not able to dis-
criminate among the possible
uses of the word.
Media and ad

low students could not
believe that this boy had
committed these acts. They
said that he had always been
"nice" and "quiet." As I
thought about this story,
along with many other recent
stories of domestic murder, I
began to question the under-
pinnings that allow violence
such as this to flourish.
Obviously there are many
elements that feed into this
sort of societal dysfunction.
Today, I want to focus on the
influence that the media and
advertising industries exert
upon society.
As a culture, we have
allowed the notion of roman-
tic love and sex to be used to
sell everything from tooth-
paste to pasta. One cannot
turn on the television or open
a magazine without being
bombarded with images of
"couplehood" and sex. This
sales tactic reinforces the
notion that without a mate,
we are not substantial mem-
bers of this society. Further,
the images of violence that
are flooding the screens of
movie theatres and televi-
sions serve to inure us to the
notions of violence.
As we watch the images
again and again, our minds
become calloused. So the
heightened value of the
romantic ideal, coupled with
the declining shock value of
violence, serves to prepare us
to accept this obsessive vio-
lence into our communities.
There is nothing more
dangerous than a person who
has nothing to lose. If con-
trolling and obtaining the
object of affection is the most
important feature of some-
one's existence, there is little
that can be done to truly pro-
tect the target of such obses-
sion. Perhaps as a society we
need to consider how our
propaganda affects our citi-
zens' world views. I am not a
proponent of censorship - I
am just one person who sup-
ports conscious discussion
and thinking around these
complicated issues.
'M' fans do
not approve
of program
I have a few things to say in
response to John Leroi's article
("Empty Crisler will be pathet-
ic without students," 10/6/97).
Leroi derides students for
being "bandwagon" fans and
uses this year's lack of basket-
ball ticket sales as evidence.
However, the lack of ticket
sales is not evidence of a loss
of support for the tradition of
Michigan basketball. Rather, it
is a showing of disapproval
with the current program.

Keep Godsv
code at home -
andfar away
from legislators
T his past weekend, an organization
of Christian men who call them-
selves the Promise Keepers staged a
rally on the mall in Washington, D
The National Parks Service estima
that the march
drew more lambs
of God than its
holy predecessor,
the Million Man
March. The exact
size of the group
is hard to pin
down, so no pre-
cise figure was
given. The group
does say thato JAMES
about 2.6 million MILLER
men have attended h MeLLER
their stadium- ChTAP
packing rallies
over the past year.
The Keepers have one simple goal:
to ameliorate society's ills by improv-
ing the moral fiber of its men. Andthe
path to that discipline is straight, n
row and leads directly through God.
According to them, nearly eery
social problem - from drug abuse to
high divorce rates to abortion to racial
strife - can be traced back to men
forgetting their duties to their families,
their church and their God.
Predictably, they have all the core
beliefs that other Christian and/or
right-wing groups espouse, i.e.,
women staying at home with the fami-
ly, "sexual purity" (what, like cl
sheets?) and a bunch of othi't
Arthurian-sounding stuff.
But what makes the Promise
Keepers different is their attitude.
Christian groups sometimes get a ebad
rap for good reasons. People like
Satan's bat boy, a.k.a. Ralph Reed, and
groups likethe Christian Coalition
have perennially had the most
unChristian attitude possible.
Whereas the book of John tells us
check our own pockets for sins before
starting a stone-tossing war, these
plastic zealots have no trouble pelting
everyone that doesn't comeout at the
end of Revelations with a clean score
The Promise Keepers do not indulge
in this kind of un-Christ-like behavior.
Instead they focus on their own per-
sonal shortcomings, and how they can
use the teachings of Christ to gA
their families and communities. A
for this, I commend them. For all its
failings, the church used to be a pow-
erful instrument of social progress and
bulwark of charity. True Christians are
good people, and it's a shame that I
have to stick up for people like my
pious grandmother, but I guess that's
secular humanism.
I have a queasy feeling brewing in
my stomach, however. Groups t
Promise Keepers can never be satis-
fied with a secondary position in 'our
culture. It's the nature of their agenda.
People who are both pious and politi-
cally active will become restless.
They see how well God and the
church have put their lives in order.
They also see immorality, sin and cor-
ruption running like dingoes through
our country, and they can't help but
think that the same ointment that cured
them could turn us all around. If 0
could just touch the hem of His gar-
ment, perhaps we'd all be made whole.
This is where it becomes painfully

obvious that God and policy mix about
as well as Roman Polanski and a day
care center. Maybe this once was eone
nation under God, but that was C0O
years and several million immigrants
ago. More like one nation udder
Buddha, Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu, Q
(of several kinds) and a groo
Moreover, despite what starry-eyed
undergraduate religion majors think,
all of the major faiths do not co-exist
like we're all just one love, man.
But back to the Promise Keepers.
Should they decide to go the route of
the Christian Coalition and become a
politically active body, they stop being
a group ofpeaceful, good-hearted
folks, and become the- red-hooded
Cardinal Ximenes from the Jeo
Fallwell days of my childhood. If.for
no other reason than because religious
doctrine is, by its nature, inflexible.
Try combing the Bible for the word
"maybe" if you don't believe me.
In the instance of abortion, a lobby-
ing firm or congressman affiliAted
with Promise Keepers would not be
open to debate and compromise on the
issue in any of its permutation
because God's word on the issue*
final and unmistakable.
To vulgarize, religion is a code, a
way of living your life. People with a
code that they regard as immutable
and universal make bad legislators,
because good policy is most often
made with deals and handshakes,
rather than fire and brims~tone.


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