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January 27, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-27

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 27, 1999

alIejz Lirbi gan Dtiig

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

LAURIE MAYK
Editor in Chief
JACK SCHILLACI
Editorial Page Editor

'MSA is there to be a voice on campus and to
be a liaison to the University's administration.'
- Michigan Student Assembly Vice President Sarah
Chopp, on the role of the central student government

Small talk at
parties and
similar things
that suck

0

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's editorial board.
All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
FROM THE DAILY
School daze
Ann-Arbor should reject charter school

SCOTT ROTHMAN

SOME KNUCKEt HEADS

M ichigan continues to be a front-run-
ner in the national race to expand
the charter school program that began
eight years ago in Minnesota and has
since grown exponentially. National1
Heritage Academies, one of the top char-1
ter school developers in the country, has
set its sights on Ann Arbor as the location
of a new charter school to be opened in
the fall. The proposed school - South
Arbor Charter Academy - would be char-{
tered through Central Michigan;
University. Official approval is expected
by CMU trustees in March. This rapidly-
growing trend - South Arbor would be;
the fifth charter school in Washtenaw;
County alone - portends possible disas-;
ter for the state's ailing pubic school sys-
tem.
Charter schools have been justified as a
means of injecting new life into public
education nationwide. They are a form of
quick-fix political euthanasia for the pub-
lic schools that are being abandoned by
their governmental custodians. Twenty-
nine states now have adopted charter
school legislation and in his recent State of
the Union address, President Clinton
renewed his promise to increase the num-
ber of charter schools to 3,000 by next
year. There are currently 137 charter
schools in Michigan, enrolling approxi-
mately 30,000 students. The addition of a
charter school in Ann Arbor would further
the state's policy of siphoning money out
of public schools and pumping it into pri-
vately contracted institutions whose agen-
das and educational philosophies are large-
ly unregulated.
In an article in The Ann Arbor News,
spokesperson Jeff Poole said The National
Heritage Academies' schools are based on

four basic principles - a strong moral
focus, structured discipline, parental
involvement and a "back to the basics" cur-
riculum. It is hard to know what is meant
by such cryptic phrases as "back to the
basics" and "strong moral focus," but it is
quite possible that such ideas could include
the kind of "traditional" curricula that edu-
cational research and movements toward
multicultural education have attempted to
combat. Most charter schools tend to have
a "philosophy" or specialization that com-
munity groups and parents have felt were
lacking in public schools. This backlash
against regular public schools - encour-
aged by state governments nationwide -
amounts to a kind of neo-Populist social
conservatism that has become a familiar
feature of American life.
The legislative support for charter
schools has allowed parents and local, ad-
hoc school boards to turn their backs on
state public schools and to form whatever
kinds of curricula they want, while enjoy-
ing tax-exempt status and state funding.
Although parents should certainly be
involved in their children's education, they
need to work together with their govern-
ments to ensure all public schools receive
equitable attention and improvement. By
pouring money into charter schools, the
state government is ignoring those public
academic institutions in need of funding
in favor of private contractors who are
given liberty to decide where and how
their schools will operate. This is a semi-
privatization of public education. Regular,
non-chartered public schools are being
left out in the cold by their governments,
and this will produce a serious decline in
our nation's already much too neglected
public school system.
the bar

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

House should hear minimum wage proposal

Last week, state House, Minority
Leader Michael Hanley (D-Saginaw)
announced to the House of
Representatives his plan to increase
Michigan's minimum wage to $6.15 an
hour, a hike of $1, by next January. He
also favors a state constitutional amend-
ment that would increase the minimum
wage by the rate of inflation every year.
But House Republicans, who hold the
majority in the legislature, will not give
the bill a hearing, claiming that it is
another excuse to raise taxes. And Gov.,
John Engler claims an increase in the
minimum wage is unnecessary because of
the current economic growth in the state.
But raising the minimum wage would
ultimately prove beneficial to workers in
Michigan, and the bill should not only be
given a hearing by the House, but eventu-
ally made law.
At a bare minimum, this bill deserves to
be given a hearing. Without a fair presenta-
tion of the bill's goals, legislators would not
be able to make an informed decision. And
once they realize the merits of such a pay
increase, they should vote to enact the leg-
islation, which would benefit many work-
ing-class people throughout the state.
Increasing the minimum wage would
help improve the quality of life for many
workers. It is nearly impossible to live on
$5.15 an hour, especially for those with
families to support.
As the cost of living increases with
inflation, it is only right that the mini-
mum wage should increase to compen-
sate. An increase would also help people
who are earning minimum wage for a

Although many Republicans claim that
raising the minimum wage would actually
reduce the number of jobs available, there
is little indication that that has happened
since the last increase in September,
1997, when the federal minimum hourly
wage rose from $3.35 to $5.15.
Since then, the number of employed
workers has increased from 4.68 million
to 4.93 million in the state. And a gradual
increase may help stave off any negative
consequences that raising the minimum
wage may produce.
The legislation the Democrats in the
state House are trying to introduce is sim-
ilar to that being endorsed by U.S. Rep.
David Bonior (D-Mich.) on the national
level. This bill would raise the federal
minimum wage to $6.15. President
Clinton also recommended an increase in
the minimum wage in his State of the
Union address last Tuesday. This legisla-
tion should be put into effect as well.
In addition, raising the minimum wage
in Michigan would only affect one third
of minimum-wage employees in the state,
as the rest work in areas involving inter-
state commerce and therefore fall under
federal minimum wage laws. These peo-
ple should also receive the benefits of an
increase.
On the whole, raising the minimum
wage would benefit more people than it
would hurt. An increase would help
improve the quality of life for many
workers and help compensate for infla-
tion.
The Democrats' initiative should be
given a hearing in the state Legislature,

Turkey has
not offered
funds to 'U'
for chair post
To THE DAILY:
On Jan. 22, the Daily's
lead editorial ("Generous
Gift") began with the state-
ment that "The Turkish gov-
ernment recently offered the
University a $1 million grant
to fund a professorship for
Turkish studies at the
University's Center for
Middle Eastern and North
African Studies." The editori-
al also stated that "the
University's only Turkish
studies professor"'would be
"retiring in May (1999),"
with the result that "Turkish
studies at the University
could easily become a relic
of the past"
The Daily did print a brief
correction Monday. But I
need to emphasize that both
these statements are false.
While the University has
contacted officials of the
Turkish government regard-
ing the possibility of creating
a new professorship in
Turkish studies, as of this
date there has been no offer
or commitment of funds on
the part of the Turkish gov-
ernment for this initiative.
Prof. James Stewart-
Robinson of the Department
of Near Eastern Studies is
planning to retire in the near
future, but he is not by any
means the only faculty mem-
ber active in this area. The
new professorship, if it is
ever created, is meant to be
added to those which already
exist at the University in
Turkish studies.
The editorial also attrib-
uted statements to
"University officials" and
"administrators" regarding
this matter. To my knowl-
edge, no University officials
or administrators have been
contacted by the Daily about
this. The Daily appears to
have been paraphrasing an
article that appeared in The
Detroit News on Dec. 29,
1998. The journalist who
wrote the News article did
speak at length with various
University representatives,
including me. That article did
not, however, state or imply
that a gift of $1 million or
any amount had already been
offered by the Turkish gov-
ernment.
The editorial's specific
recommendations in the edi-
torial do not present difficul-
ties. The University will not
permit any intrusion into aca-
demic decisions in regard to
this or any other chair. The
point at issue here is that the
Daily has an obligation to
check facts and sources care-
fully, especially on the editor-
ial page. Please act in accor-
dance with this obligation in
the future.

offended me, and how that
article insulted my grand-
mother. About half the time,
the complaint is legitimate.
The other half of the time, it's
just dumb or nit-picky. This
letter speaks in particular to
Jeff Ringenberg's criticisms
regarding the Daily's film
reviewers, who seem not to
consider the average schmoe
when writing their reviews
("Film reviews do not help
students," 1/25/99).
I'm not a film student and
I'm not Fellini, but my
understanding of a film cri-
tique's purpose must differ
vastly from Ringenberg's. A
film critique is meant to
point out elements in a film
that stand out as good or bad,
inspiring or lame or thought-
provoking or mind-numbing-
ly inane. It doesn't set out to
change your opinion that Leo
DiCaprio was just dreamy in
"Titanic" or that "Speed 2"
was totally bitching. I know
that no number of reviews
will ever convince me that
"The Lion King" was any-
thing other than hyped-up,
toy industry-driven celluloid
poop. Hey, your preferences
are your own. You like
Tarantino or you think he's a
putz. You find counting side-
walk cracks enriching to your
understanding of a film or
you just "like to look at the
pretty pictures." That's your
business.
Movie critiques are writ-
ten by people. People have
opinions, which inevitably
sneak into their writing. If
you don't want to read an
opinion that just might
(gasp!) differ from your own,
don't read the damned arti-
cle. Yes, I'm aware of the
irony here. And don't tell an
arts reviewer to pander to
your appreciation of main-
stream entertainment.
If you want to complain
about something in the
Daily, there's plenty of
opportunity. You can com-
plain about how an article
was so poorly written that
you'd think it was translated
from Manx Gaelic by a
chimpanzee. You can call
attention to any number of
grammar mistakes. You can
even say that that the guy
writing this editorial is a
big, fat moron. Just don't try
to demand that your conven-
tional views be considered
in writing an art critique.
Well, you can demand it, but
don't expect anyone to take
you seriously.
ROB MARTIN
UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS
Headline
used 'refute'
improperly
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing in response
to The Michigan Daily

ment or statement) to be
false or wrong, by argument
or evidence.
Apparently the Daily's
editors have taken a page
directly from Clinton's
playbook of "It all depends
on what the definition of
the word is' is" and "It all
depends on what the defini-
tion of the word 'alone' is"
when they chose to redefine
two additional common
words; that. of "evidence"
and "proof"
What are the Daily's
new definitions of the
words?
evidence: . Bill
Clinton's spin on an event,
happening or circumstance
proof 1. Bill Clinton
says so
For how else can one
reconcile this headline with
the actual definition of the
word "refute?"
Perhaps I was naive to
not realize that the phrase
."One hundred eight years of
editorial freedom" actually
means freedom from the
restrictions of sound jour-
nalism.
REDGIE LANCASTER
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
People should
join in Naked
Mile, not just
watch
TO THE DAILY:
When April 20 rolls
┬░around this year, for one
night the commonly penal-
ized infraction of indecent
exposure will be over-
looked.
The glory of the Naked
Mile lies in the opportunity
for personal liberation, not
in the photo albums and
video libraries of perverted
voyeurs.
Runners fully accept the
dangerous consequences
that might result from free-
ing themselves of the gar-
ments society imposes on
them and bounding through
the streets of Ann Arbor
naked. We know full well
we run the risk of finding
our birthday suits gracing
the presence of some
strangers roll of film or
some sex deprived comput-
er nerd's Web page.
Photographers also
should accepthand under-
stand the ensuing conse-
quences of attempting to
immortalize a group of
ecstatic naked people
sprinting through the Diag.
Voyeurs wielding cam-
era equipment need to real-
ize they run the risk of hav-
ing their camera knocked
from their grasp or of being
blindsided by an unforgiv-
ing and extremely non-pho-
togenic right hook.
Spectators, if you want
to watch the festivities this

started thinking this morning, which
is a bad idea if you do it after being
awake for a few minutes on a Sunday *
morning.
I go to lots of
parties on the week-
ends. It's nothing
too extreme. There
isn't any nude table
dancing (except
when visiting my
brothers and sisters
in the co-op sys-
tem.) No vandalism
and no witchcraft
and animal sacri-
fices, if they can be AMES
avoided. But parties MILLER
nonetheless. I R
When everyone ON AP
at a party is of about the same age and
station in life, the conversation can be
predictable. Numbingly predictable.
People over 40 talk about the stock
market. MBA students talk about sign-
ing bonuses and starting salaries.
Michigan Review staffers talk about the
one time a girl looked at them, outside
of a family reunion or money-for-sex
kind of situation ("Then she looked
right at me, and I felt kind of funny.
Before I knew it my pants were ruined.
I've never felt like this, not even about
Nancy Reagan or even Eichmann").
People who are approaching gradua-
tion talk about future plans. In fact, the
older I get, the more time I seem to
spend on small talk. It used to be that
small talk was reserved for peripheral
people and relatives. That guy you
remember from orientation or Aunt
Myrtle the talkative invalid. Now some
of my peers like to engage it.
It's bad around finals time.
"So, how's finals?" "Well, I have a 7-
to-10 pager due on Thursday and an
exam Friday and two on Monday, so not
too bad, but ..."
No one really means this question
when they ask it. I never mean it when I
ask it. With the exception of my close
friends, I really couldn't give a rolling
donut on a gravel driveway about when
an acquaintance's art history term paper
is due. If we were more honest with
each other, the conversation would be
more terse.
"So how's finals?" "Sucks. I keep
having this dream where I nail my GSI
into a Fotomat booth and throw him in a
river."
Barring the existence of finals or a
fatal disease with visible symptoms
("Jesus, I've never seen a goiter that
big!"), one's plans for after graduation
are the next item up for discussion.
Again, with the exception of close
friends, I can't bring myself to care what
someone is doing after graduation.
"Yeah, I'm thinking of applying to
like this consulting firm, or like, some
kind of like filmmaking environmental
hip hop collective kind of degree mas-
ters program thing. In like New York."
I don't think I can have another con-
versation like that.
In a situation like this I usually lie.
Not a huge lie. I don't tell people I'm
going into the priesthood or midwifery.
I just say "I don't know. I'll think of
something." Then smile devilishly for
that illusion of aimless, Ethan Hawke
slackerhood.
The truth is I do know what I'm
doing, but I'm not a big fan ofjustifying
myself and explaining my life's plans
over a couple plastic cups of beer.
I wouldn't ordinarily be such a prick
about it if the questions didn't seem so
disingenuous. The people who ask you
seem to just stand there and watch your
lips move until it's their turn to talk.
Attention-starved people like small
talk because under the guise of gentility
and hospitality they can force people to
pay attention to them. Small talk also

makes talking about yourself look like
the exercise of proper etiquette.
"Yeah, so I'm like into being creative
and like creating, and stuff. But I might
want to teach, or something, like turn
this thesis I'm working into like a dis-
sertation or book or something. I'd like
to be a professor, dude. I'm smart. I'm
working on a novel and pretending I'm@A
gay. Pay attention to me. Please?"
Small talk does have one redeeming
quality. Since people aren't really listen-
ing to you, or you to them, there is a
wonderful potential for bullshit.
I like to tell people I'm going into
animal husbandry, and that I'm looking
into the insemination program at the
University of Montana ("I'm taking
Hand-warming 101 spring term to get
ready.")
Another favorite is telling people
you're going back into stripping,
because they have to think that you used
to do it and must have quit. They also
look at you for a second or two, trying
to imagine your pasty, lumpy body
smeare~d in ail and grindine to "Shock

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