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January 31, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-31

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 31, 2006


ibe 3iNbijgtt &il

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


The vote today
is whether or
not we will take
a stand against
ideological court-
- Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), arguing against
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito on the
Senate floor, prior to a 72-25 vote to end debate
Monday afternoon, as reported by CNN.com.



Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

Warming up to Crisler Arena

ver the past
several years,
I have been
extremely cynical when
talking about the Mich-
igan men's basketball
team. I've only been
to one game, and I felt
justified in that decision
because, for various
reasons, the team just
wasn't very good. But, after the squad took Illi-
nois down to the wire, I stroked my beard and
said, "hmm?" After the blowout win against
Minnesota, I paused and said: "Wait a sec-
ond, what's going to happen when State comes
to town?" As Michigan State came and lost I
almost got excited. But then the cynic in me
decided that every decent team protects home
court and that the emotions of a rivalry game
lead to fluke wins all the time. The realist in
me knew that without beating Wisconsin, the
then-imminent top-25 national ranking was not
going to come. So when the Badgers fell to the
Wolverines last Saturday, I had to finally give in
and admit that this team might be for real.
It seems other people have bought in as well.
Crisler Arena has seen two straight sellouts,
probably the first time that's happened in quite
some time. There was almost as much energy in
the building as the games during the mid-to-late
1990s that may or may not have officially taken
place. The student section was rowdy, and the rest
of the arena joined in with a little noise as well.
The alternating "Go Blue" chant during oppo-
nents' free throws was a particularly nice touch.
Despite the renewed fan interest, Crisler
Arena still has a bit of a cold atmosphere. The
Maize Rage does a tremendous job of wearing

maize to the arena. The rest of the crowd - not
so much. I'm not looking for a completely uni-
fied color scheme like the crowd at the Uni-
versity of Illinois, although a 13,000-person
maize-out would be impressive. Rather, I'm just
looking for the elimination of white. During the
game on Saturday, all the white shirts in the
crowd created what seemed to me to be a cold,
unimposing feeling in the gym.
Speaking of the color white, the athletic
department could go a long way toward killing
some of the sterility in the gym by painting the
inside of the tunnel and the facings of the upper
seating level some color other than plain white.
While I'll concede that a majority of the sense
of place in an athletic venue is a direct result
of fan enthusiasm, there are a couple more
things that the athletic department could do to
make Crisler Arena more impressive. During
the Brian Ellerbe era, television viewers saw
a huge shadow under the scoreboard, due to
the fact that Crisler is one of the few venues
I've seen where the speakers are underneath
the scoreboard instead of above. Someone has
apparently worked hard trying to get rid of the
shadow, as it's almost gone. But almost gone
means it's still slightly there.
If money were no object in my renovation of
Crisler, I would completely eliminate the poor
attempt at a grand staircase on the East side of
the arena. In its place, and in place of the grass
berm on either side of it, I would build a large
entrance atrium. It could hold a small team hall
of fame, maybe a mini M-Den or a few more
concession stands. With the concourses as
narrow as they are, why wouldn't the athletic
department want to increase the points of sale?
Now, of course, money is definitely an object
and building a new entrance would also prob-

ably entail quite the structural engineering feat,
but hey - let's think big. I don't know much
about the bowels of the arena, but locker rooms
and training facilities go a long way toward
drawing recruits. And the word on the street
is that, at the very least, the wrestlers' locker
room is in need of a renovation.
If I come off as being nit-picky or ridiculous
with all of these complaints and suggestions
about Crisler Arena, it's because I am nit-picky.
But all of these recommendations come with
good intentions. In the future I would love to be
able to turn on a game, or even attend one, and
be impressed by "the house that Cazzie built." I
would love for viewers all across the country to
be able to turn on a Michigan basketball game
and be somehow impressed by the aesthetic
experience. Now, I realize that the standard
basketball fan isn't going to necessarily con-
template how the large, white tunnel behind
the North basket - and the gap that it creates
- contributes to an empty, sterile feeling in the
gym. But I think these things do matter - at
the very least subconsciously. Does the wood
trim in Cameron Indoor Stadium make the
Duke University basketball experience what it
is? Not really, but the wood trim is still there.
Intercollegiate athletics are an incalculable
asset, and having a prominent men's basketball
team can go a long way in maintaining the Uni-
versity's status in the nation. It would be wise
for the athletic department to consider ways
to make its basketball venue more respected,
because with that respect will come years of
positive attention.

Betts can be reached
at djmbetts@umich.edu.

Not a Band-Aid, but healing nonetheless

Imagine you are graduating from college. You
have some choices: Go to grad school, and spend
the next years of your life feverishly studying
and networking with the higher-ups; or skip grad
school and spend your last dollars traveling, cer-
tain that something will work itself out eventually;
or wait tables, perhaps volunteering part-time.
Then there's Teach for America, which, despite
common misconceptions such as those written in
Sam Singer's Where Teach for America goes wrong
(01/24/2006), remains an alternative for students
who are ready and willing to bypass juicy salaries
and fancy suits to take on one of the most chal-
lenging opportunities they might ever face.
And challenging it is, even for the most sea-
soned teachers. I myself am headed to Oakland,
Calif. to teach secondary English in a district
that has trouble retaining any teachers at all,
much less those who will work for what the
district can pay them. In Oakland, I will be a
welcome addition. When people hear my plans,
they wince and say, "Oh, man," or something of
the like. From this type of reaction, I take it I am
getting ready to do something that most people
wouldn't dream of doing, including education
majors with four years of training or teachers
that have been in the profession for many years.
That doesn't make me some kind of altruist - it
simply makes me someone who believes in the
power of a real commitment to social justice
and in Teach for America's mission.
The truth is, it's my future students that are
fueling my and others' commitment to TFA. We
don't have visions of our students reciting Chau-

cer at recess or scratching crazy geometric equa-
tions onto overpasses instead of graffiti, but we
do believe in students who are usually considered
a lost cause. Keep in mind that while you can
quantify years of teaching experience, you cannot
quantify what enthusiasm and a passion for social
change can do for a classroom or what a belief in
every child's potential can do for their self-esteem.
And isn't that the most important part of a "mean-
ingful education?" Sam Singer's column seems to
state otherwise. TFA may not be a quick fix, but
it is not without conviction and commitment, and
neither are its teachers.
Am I nervous? Of course. But I sleep well know-
ing that my training, which will have me teaching
in Los Angeles public schools by day and work-
ing on projects by night to develop my knowledge
of both pedagogical methods and pertinent social
issues, will have me as well-prepared as I'll ever
be for what I will face. Unlike what was implied in
Singer's column, my training will not be in "class-
room management," and it's no "crash course." It is
a tough and rigorous five weeks aimed at enhanc-
ing my previous leadership experience and honing
it in on teaching. I will be doing many things this
fall, but one thing I definitely won't be doing is
"devaluing" the profession by coming unprepared.
And what I don't learn during training, you can
bet I'll learn in the classroom, whether I want to
or not. In fact, the principals of schools that benefit
from Teach for America agree with me: 75 percent
of such principals say Corps members come better
prepared than traditionally certified teachers, and
95 percent say we're at least as good. In short, our
students do succeed.
Despite this success rate, TFA won't expect me

to commit to teaching for the rest of my life. In fact,
while a definite benefit, that's really not the goal of
the program. The goal is an ever-expanding advo-
cacy for public education, one taking place in law
offices, hospitals and Congress to do what teachers
in these ailing school districts, despite their hard
work and dedication, haven't yet been able to do.
That said, 60 percent of our alumni do stay in edu-
cation. Considering only two percent come in with
education training, TFA is significantly increasing
the number of people in the country who choose
to devote their lives to this issue. But even if the
program produces great teachers, who is going
reliably assess education? Who will ensure proper
healthcare for low-income students? Who is going
to see that teachers get a fair salary? TFA alumni
will, in whatever field they choose, and this means
we are one step closer to closing the achievement
gap for good.
So, it is time I left my high blood-alcohol con-
tent in the trash. I am done being a student and I'm
ready to take on real life. I am ready to do some
work that won't just benefit me. I am ready to meet
150 eighth-graders who are at a critical point in
their lives, and I'm ready to try and convince them
that they can be more than a statistic. No, I am not
saving the world, Mr. Singer, but I am going to
make a difference. And while I wish that policy-
makers would pay more attention to an ever-grow-
ing problem, I have to do my part now. Because
when the classroom doors close, it will be just my
kids and me, and no one can tell us what we're
doing isn't learning.
Izenberg is an LSA senior. She is joining
Teach for America after graduation.


Send all letters to the editor to
tothedaily@michigandaily. com.

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, Reggie Brown, Kevin Bunkley,
Gabrielle D'Angelo, John Davis, Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara
Gay, Jared Goldberg, Ashwin Jagannathan, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Frank Manley, Kirsty
McNamara, Rajiv Prabhakar, Matt Rose, Katherine Seid, Brian Slade, John Stiglich, Ben Tay-
lor, Jessica Teng.

Article defines new levels
of absurdity, nonsense
Being a second-semester senior, I assumed
I had seen almost all this University has to
offer in terms of nonsense. For example,
one day I encountered a bum walking out of

had superhuman strength - enough to break
away from two people holding him - but
also a horrific incontinence problem. Just as
an aside, what exactly did he rap about? I'm
sure he is a modern-day Shakespeare. There
was actually someone there fearful of retri-
bution? It was a concert at East Quad, not a
dinner with the Gambino crime family. For
the love of God, the writer refers to someone

versity (Without parental help, students pay
for college, 01/24/2006). Unfortunately, this
campus has a few students who must pay all
of their college expenses on their own. Han-
dling one's own entire college expenses is
not only a financially stressful situation but
can result in being overworked and frustrated
at one's situation. For such students, being
able to study abroad, getting an iPod or even

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