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October 27, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-27

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 27, 2003

OP/ED

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

LouIE MEIZLISH
Editor in Chief
AUBREY HENRETTY
ZAC PESKOWITZ
Editorial Page Editors

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
t Liberals hate
America; they hate
flag wavers.

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.

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SAM BUTLER 'THF SOAPBOX

O
dear.
,POP':

- One of the 14 recorded sayings on the new
doll sporting the likeness of Law School alum
and conservative pundit Ann Coulter, as
reported by The Washington Post.

SAT overhaul exacerbates old problems, reveals new
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF0 -R TIMES

here are probably
few large groups
of regular people
(the College Board, for
example, excluded) who
have thought more about
standardized testing and
k <what it means for college
admissions - and col-
lege performance and
life after college - than
the campus community at the University. Dur-
ing the long, long process that led to the even-
tual U.S. Supreme Court resolution of the
affirmative action lawsuits brought against the
University, every element of the college
admissions process was evaluated and reeval-
uated by people on this campus; not surpris-
ingly it was the SATs that were most
aggressively taken to task by proponents of
affirmative action. They said (and maintain)
that the SATs are inaccurate predictors of col-
lege success, that they demonstrate racial and
socioeconomic bias, that good scores on these
tests can be bought through prohibitively
expensive review classes.
True, true and true.
SAT scores, to be sure, are indicative of
something about the test taker - and not only,
I think, of how well that test taker knows how
to "play the game." Kids who score perfect
1600s are likely to have something going for
them in the intelligence department, even if
it's in a very specific sector of that depart-
ment. But the tests, as they stand, cause more
problems than they solve.
So why is it that the College Board, a
group of 4,300 educational institutions
(including universities), is overhauling these
tests in ways that complicate the already exist-
ing issues?
There are two significant problems with

the way that the board is changing the SATs.
First, it seems that the new test will be no
more successful than its predecessor (which
is still in use) at addressing the problems of
bias and success-prediction accuracy. The
second is that the board is changing the test
with an eye to changing high school curricu-
la. As Time magazine reports this week, "In
short, the dreaded SAT could actually help
produce a national curriculum, a sweeping
education reform enacted without the passage
of a single law."
The new test will require an essay which
seems like a close relative to one of those
required by a GRE. It will ask students to react
to a very broad statement; the example that
Time magazine shows is "What is your view
on the idea that it takes failure to achieve suc-
cess?" The math will be harder and the verbal
will no longer include analogy questions, but
will place more of an emphasis on English
grammar and sentence parsing.
Some critics of the new test claim that it
will swing the bias toward girls, who histori-
cally fare better on verbal section questions
and essay tests. How is this an improvement
over a bias toward boys (who this year scored
an average of 43 points better than girls)?
Moreover, according to Jay Rosner (whom I
saw testify in the affirmative action case when
it was still being tried in Detroit), elimination
of the analogy section may exacerbate racial
disparities. The gap between the performance
of black and white students on the analogy
section is smaller than it is on the rest of the
test. Companies will still be able to offer sim-
ples test strategies for thousands of dollars,
continuing to profit from the anxiety of col-
lege-bound students and their parents who are
willing and able to pay a price for an extra 100
points. An intelligent overhaul of the SAT
needs to use some measure of effort to address

the current problems.
But instead, it seems that the board is look-
ing at the test through a lens that has changed
little even in the face of sharp and important
criticism. Instead, the board is seeing the tests
as an opportunity to take advantage of the
considerable power that it already wields over
high school curricula. My sophomore and
junior years of high school seem to be marked
by a dull soundtrack of standardized-test
directions and the command to put my pencil
down; the introduction of an essay - a yard-
stick that should logically be less objective
than test-makers have managed to make it -
now means that millions of 16-year-olds will
also be drilled into thinking that a good essay
is a humorless and stilted one with an intro-
duction foreshadowing three arguments, three
arguments and a conclusion summarizing
three arguments.
The scurry to change lesson plans to con-
form to a revamped test should be a patently
clear indicator that these tests wield far too
much power in secondary education. Even as
some colleges have begun to discredit the
value of these tests, more high schools have
latched onto them and the positive relationship
between high scores and high real estate val-
ues. Perhaps the board's decision to reinvent
this test will be an even louder wake-up call to
how culturally dependent we have become on
bubble sheets and No. 2 pencils when we see
high school schedules restructured to accom-
modate a very flawed packet of paper. What is
all too clear even now, however, is that the
College Board is abusing its power - a dis-
heartening sight after all the critical thought
that has gone into evaluation of these tests in
recent years.

I
I

Hanink can be reached
atjhanink@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

4

Government needs to
permit abortion in
exceptional circumstances
To THE DAILY:
I am pro-life, but I vote pro-choice. I'll
explain. I am pro-life for a number of rea-
sons. The first being my conception. My
mother was raped, and while this was a brutal
experience for her, she, already a single
mother with no education or career to speak
of, choose to have me. She always felt that a
higher power created all life. Second, I fully
believe that sexual freedom does not mean
sexual irresponsibility.
Women who have sex should be on or
practice some form of birth control. If you
lack the maturity to protect yourself and not
buckle under the pressure of a man that
would prefer to not wear a condom, then you
shouldn't be having sex. Which leads to why
I vote pro-choice. I understand that not every
woman can withstand the horrors of rape and
see their child as a gift from a higher power. I
also understand that not every female having
sex is a mature woman. Often young girls are
engaging in sexual activity. Young girls that
haven't yet learned to think for themselves,
who are easily pressured into sex and unpro-
tected sex. Should these young girls then be
forced to have children?
Especially in a society that looks to the
female to place the blame. Because let's face
it, teen pregnancy has more of an impact on
the life of the female than the male. Not to
mention the logistics of raising a child when
you are one yourself. Coming from an inner
city and then teaching in one, I also realize
that many young women get pregnant simply
because they are too afraid to use birth con-
trol. Too afraid that their parents will find
out. Because what parents forget is the sim-
ple truth that their children have their own
sexuality and in the end the parents have no
control over when or how their children
engage in sex. So the best thing to do is to
protect them by teaching them to not only
abstain but to protect themselves when they
chose to have sex. But in the end I vote pro-
choice because making abortion illegal will
not rid this country of abortion. (Just like
preaching only abstinence won't keep young
people from having sex). Women will still

perpetuating many of the pro-choice fallacies
about the pro-life movement especially in
regard to the recent passage of the ban on
partial-birth abortion.
Taking her first complaints that the bill
legitimizes a fabricated and misleading term
"partial-birth abortion," I recommend a visit
to medical websites such as Medline at the
National Institutes of Health or the
Intelihealth site where this exact term is
defined in the Merriam Webster Medical
Dictionary as "an abortion in the second or
third trimester of pregnancy in which the
death of the fetus is induced after it has
passed partway through the birth canal."
The bill itself defines partial-birth abor-
tion as an abortion in which "the person per-
forming the abortion deliberately and
intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus
until, in the case of a head-first presentation,
the entire fetal head is outside the body of the
mother, or, in the case of breech presentation,
any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is
outside the body of the mother." Where is
the misleading language? What is unclear?
The term "partial-birth" is perfectly accurate
in describing this type of abortion.
Considering the complaint that there is no
health exception, the bill would permit use of
the procedure if "necessary to save the life of
a mother whose life is endangered by a phys-
ical disorder, physical illness or physical
injury, including a life-endangering physical
condition caused by or arising from the preg-
nancy itself." If the ambiguous and general-
ized exception of "health of the mother" was
included, it would cover emotional, financial,
familial well-being, and physical health con-
ditions. Every pregnancy could be aborted on
these grounds. This also does not take into
account all of the partial-birth abortions com-
mitted on healthy mothers as Ron Fitzsim-
mons, executive director of the National
Coalition of Abortion Providers, has told The
New York Times. "In the vast majority of
cases, the procedure is performed on a
healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20
weeks or more along."
Finally, I would like to emphasize that
pro-lifers understand the immense emotional
distress that an unplanned pregnancy can
give a mother. We realize that women can
feel pressured into abortion by fear, misin-
formation or lack of support from loved
ones and thus are not entirely at fault.
n-ctca o r icr a in p, ilt for women

Divestment from Israel not
a productive step toward
peace in the Middle East
TO THE DAILY:
It is disturbing to see that students on
campus continue to employ deceptive tactics
and arguments in pursuit of an impractical,
divisive and hateful goal. In Fatima
Makhzoum's letter (Case for divestment from
Israel compelling; Israel very similar to
apartheid South Africa, 10/23/03), she contin-
ues to spew the same vitriolic propaganda
seen last year in defense of Students Allied
for Freedom and Equality and their inane
efforts to urge the University to divest.
It is interesting that Makhzoum accuses
opponents of divestment of trying to avoid
"substantively discussing the actual con-
flict." If she wanted to discuss the conflict,
her letter would comprehensively analyze
the overwhelmingly complex and deep-
rooted problem in Israel instead of conjur-
ing up a simplistic solution based on false
or misleading facts. Does she support peace
(the word peace is not mentioned once in
her letter), or does she support divestment
- which would effectively strip the Israeli
military of the ability to defend itself
against countless terrorist attacks attempted
each day and cause more Israelis to lose
their jobs, not to mention a plethora of other
effects that would in no way conceivably
lead to peace?
Nevertheless, there is a redeeming quali-
ty to Makhzoum's letter. Her inclusion of
Avraham Burg's quote that criticizes Israeli
policy toward Palestinians (although taken
out of context) serves as further proof of
Israel's vibrant democracy. The fact that a
former member of the Israeli Knesset can
publicly criticize his own government with-
out having to fear for his life is a testament
to the lively debate and democratic process
that takes place on a daily basis in Israel. I
certainly do not claim Israel to be a perfect
state - but that is why I love Israel so
much and have such a strong yearning for
peace. I take pride in the fact that Israel is
willing to honestly examine its policies, and
that this vigorous debate will lead to a more
peaceful situation.
In the meantime. it would be nice if SAFE

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