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January 19, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-19

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4 - Friday, January 19, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 6

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
tothedaily@umich.edu

DONN M. FRESARD
EDITOR IN CHIEF

EMILY BEAM
CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

JEFFREY BLOOMER
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations representsolely the views of their authors.
A public concern
Citizen activism vital in future of Detroit schools
A s an increasing number of parents in the Detroit Public
School system direct their children to schools just out-
side district lines, the battle between individual pragma-
tism and broad idealism threatens to further derail the city's public
schools. With each student who leaves Detroit schools, the district
loses $7,500. And with an exodus of almost 15,000 students from
the district this fall, the district stands to suffer quantitative losses
- only worsening its already distressing financial situation.

Show us all that you have become a caring,
productive member of society ... I
know you can do it. Do it."
- Oakland County probate judge EUGENE MOORE at the final status hearing for Nathaniel Abraham, who at age 1T was
the first person in Michigan to be prosecuted as an adult for murder, as reported yesterday by
mlive.com. Abraham was released yesterday, a day before his 21st birthday.
RYAN JABER
WANT TOJOIN \
DAILY OPINION?
COME TO OUR MASS -.
MEETING SUNDAY
AT 730 P.M. AT
413 E. HURON.-,
ALL THE COOL KIDS{5w
WILL BE THERE.
PROMISE.
The land of mi+ssed opportunity

Parents' desires to secure the best edu-
cation possible for their children often
come to a head when dealing with failing
school districts. Children become both the
direct victims of declining schools and
Detroit taxpayers' strategic chess pieces.
The moral compromise made by hopeful
parents wanting their children - and tax
dollars - to remain in the Detroit Public
School district is often substantial.
It is not sensible to ask that all parents
in the district sacrifice their children's
futures for a cause that requires time to
show results. But progress will remain
unthinkable with such a mass exodus of
students. Answers are difficult to come by
in a system so deeply mired in mismanage-
ment and corruption, but district residents
hold the key to improving schools: It will
take time and the election of competent,
visionary officials.
Financial loses of this magnitude crip-
ple the district's efforts to attract new
students and cast a shadow over any hope
for improvement in academic programs
for the students that remain. Last week,
Detroit Public Schools unveiled a plan to
close 52 schools - including a number of
high-performing and magnet schools with
crowded waiting lists - in a last-ditch
effort to make up for funding that district
constituents no longer provide.
With more than a third of the city's chil-
dren attending schools outside the district,
Detroit residents must address the crisis in

civil responsibility that the district's con-
tinued downward spiral heralds. voters
must demand increased transparency and
administrative oversight. They must base
their voting decisions on how well current
leaders respond to their demands.
No team of administrators, parents
or teachers can be blamed for the decay
of Detroit schools; the process has been
characterized by a long and tragic his-
tory of struggling with a shrinking tax
pool. While the district's decline has been
further pockmarked by the incidence of
corruption, assigning blame is hardly a
worthy priority. Even those parents who
decide to educate their children outside
of the city school system must continue to
strive to make the city schools better so
that future generations don't also have to
commute beyond city limits for a decent
education.
As the district stands now, responsible
parenting may dictate driving children to
other districts, but parents and residents
must remain interested in and passionate
about their city for things to ever improve.
We know voters can be excited into action
and that there have been overhauls of
the school board in the past. While those
attempts failed, they were for the most
part commendable, and residents cannot
be afraid to repeat them again. Change
will come slowly and may take hold only
after several false starts, but the sooner we
begin, the better.

it's interesting to note the dichot-
omy between the perceptions
different groups have of Ameri-
ca. People living in Asia perceive this
country as a magical land of opportu-
nity, where if you're willing to work
hard untold riches can be made.
Those living
here, though, see
a country strug-
gling with the
same old prob-
lems of poverty
as they try to
make ends meet,
feed their fami-
lies and put a -
roof over their
heads. Elsewhere RAJIV
in the world, peo- p KR
ple line up at U.S. B
embassies every-
day to plead for the opportunity to
live and work here, but people living
here rarely express appreciation for
the economic opportunities afforded
to them simply by their birth.
If you were to have conversations
with just a few Americans, you would
think that this country - despite
having the largest economy and the
best higher education system in the
world - is no different from any other
developed country. So why do poverty
cycles still plague this land of oppor-
tunity?
Even taking into account the impact
of economic policy, there is really no
reason for the continued existence of
poverty cycles in a country with such
a strong economy and social mobility.
On paper, pulling yourself out of the
slums isn't that hard. You simply have
to go to school, do your homework,
take up a part-time job, go to a decent
college and pick your major wisely.
There you have it. You are now be a
22-year-old college graduate with

employable skills.
Yes, this path is arduous and tiring,
especially if you're from an under-
privileged background. But it's still
a cinch compared to other countries,
where schooling is extremely expen-
sive, financial aid andscholarships are
hard to come by, and college admis-
sions are so fierce that high school
students need to burn the midnight
oil every night.
The problem here is with people
not making use of the opportunities
given to them. The kids who grow up
in slums and most direly need to lift
themselves out of poverty are sadly
also the most likely to neglect school
and waste their youth.
A few years ago, when I was vol-
unteering at Ann Arbor's Pioneer
High School, I met a girl who couldn't
grasp even the basic principles of
math and showed no interest at all
in trying. When I asked her what she
wanted to do when she grew up, she
coolly replied that she was going to be
a dancer. I laughed, thinking that she
was joking; I had never met anyone
who had no plans of going to college
and who intended to put all her eggs
into one fragile basket. It was only a
few seconds later that I realized she
was dead serious.
As time went on, I realized that this
was the mindset shared by a number
of kids living in poverty. Everyone
wants to be the next Eminem or LeB-
ron James, and why not? American
pop culture deifies singers, actors and
athletes more than it does doctors,
engineers and scientists. When was
the last time you heard the rags-to-
riches story of someone who rose out
of the slums to become a math profes-
sor? Unfortunately, out of the millions
of teenagers out there, only a handful
can ever hope to secure a glamorous
and well-paying job in the entertain-

ment industry. Unless all the others
focus on their education and develop
employableskills, theywillbe doomed
to perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
It is easy then to simply lay the
responsibility on the shoulders of
those in poverty themselves, but you
can hardly blame an adolescent for
not knowing how to best lead his life.
Chances are they grew up in fami-
lies where studying is seen more as
a social stigma than as a pathway to
success. The responsibility of ensur-
ing the well-being of these youths
falls on the mantle of the education
system.
A change of focus
is in order for
America's students.

JOHN OQUIST I
HEY,THE BULLETISFA CSCITISTS SOI? AREN'T Y UWORRIED?$ O THEY'RE JUST LIKE THE WEIRDO WITH
MOVED THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK TO ONLY ' EALLS A LOCK, ITS THE SIGN THAT SAYS "THE END IS NEAR'
5 MIUS TO T5MIDN ATIII' O ELYACOKI' H EP RIGTO TALK TO MIIBY
A VISUAL REPRESENTATION OF HOW TH EsONVENENCE STORt
A SPECIFIC GROUP OF SCFIENTISTS
s0.? FEELS ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY SORT OF, BUT IT'S SLIGHTLY
OF NUCLEWA wR MORE HORRIFYlNG SINCE THEY
HAVE YEARS OF EXPERTISE
Cc AND DON'T REEK OF LIQUOR.

Starting from as early as grade
school, there needs to be a much
greater emphasis on instilling values
and virtues like work ethic neces-
sary to succeed in nearly every career.
Charter schools have achieved great
success by focusing extensively on
developing such character traits. Stu-
dents need to be taught that their best
bet for financial success comes from
college and a good education - not
the NFL or Hollywood. Teachers
must promote better role models like
famous lawyers, doctors, scientists
and businessmen who pulled them-
selves up out of poverty.
In this land of opportunity, poverty
cycles are caused not by the lack of
opportunities but by people not know-
ing how to take advantage of them.
Rajiv Prabhakar can be
reached at rajivp@umich.edu.

4

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

'60s activism should be a to all parts of campus, 01/18/2007) lamenting that
diversity of sports teams is treated differently
role model, not a specter than the diversity of intellectual thoughts and
experiences. Ironically, in her example she only
TO THE DAILY: measured diversity by race, clearly failing to rec-
Whitney Dibo's heart is in the right place (Out ognize that sports teams are diverse. Following
from under the '60s shadow, 01/18/2007). That she her logic, a sports recruiter only looks at talent,
- like many other students - is grappling with but in reality, a recruiter looks at a combination
questions about the form and utility of a student of talent, drive and potential, among other things.
movement. A broader political coalition oppos- The University has never admitted a student solely
ing the war in Iraq is an important thing, but her upon race and gender but through a combination
dramatically oversimplified and misunderstood of characteristics.
characterization of the new Left and the student Contrary to Valenti's view, race and gender
movement of the 1960s and 1970s obscures the les- change thoughts, experiences and talents. It's sad
sons we can take from them. that she has only learned about diversity from
The hippies and disaffected children of privi- "friends who went to private schools, had differ-
lege weren't the ones who grew up, forgot their ent religious backgrounds or grew up in different
values and elected Ronald Reagan. The working states." I learned about diversity at the University,
class rejected the Democratic party after recession where I learned from my friends, including those
and stagflation. Along with members of the middle who went to non-traditional or foreign schools or
class who espoused individualism rather than col- grew up not only in different states but in different
lective welfare, it crossed over to the Republican parts of the world.
party. I suggest everyone attend a museum showing of
The most significant student organization of "Boxes and Walls" from Jan. 22 to 28. Those who
the 1960s, Students for a Democratic Society, was think they are diverse may experience a new preju-
founded in Ann Arbor by a student at the Univer- dice and discrimination first-hand and learn some-
sity. Over the course of the decade, members of thing new about the social identity of minorities.
the new Left movement promoted civil rights in1
the South, worked in urban ghettoes in the North, Edward Santos
successfully opposed and obstructed war research LSA senior
here at the University as well as around the coun-
try and promoted economic and racial equality on
a number of fronts, including a massive rent strike Wal-Vart is bad for small
in Ann Arbor in 1969. Rather than trying to shake
their legacy, we should emulate their enduring businesses; bring in Target
values and learn from their mistakes. Thousands
of lives could depend on it. TO THE DAILY:

the ones where it didn't let anyone work full-time
(not even managers) so it wouldn't have to pay
overtime. And how about the discriminatory hir-
ing practices?
By the way, Target sells higher-quality products
and organizes volunteer work in the community,
whereas Wal-Mart screws over employees and
destroys communities. The Federal Deposit Insur-
ance Corporation would do well to deny Wal-Mart
its own bank.
Brendan Kretzschmar
LSAjunior
Students entitlement on display
in theft of plastic-ware
TO THE DAILY:
Waiting for my order at Beanster's cafe in the
League yesterday, I observed some fascinating
behavior. A young woman, getting her plastic-
ware, grabbed a large bundle of spoons and forks,
so large that some of them fell from her grasp.
My first thought was how nice it was of her to get
plastic-ware for the rest of her party. Her friend
uttered a remark hinting at disdain, to which the
young woman answered, "I don't care, I'm pay-
ing 40 grand here." I was not aware that Univer-
sity tuition included utensils from local eateries.
Watch out local restaurants, entitlement is alive
and well here on campus.
HarrietKozyn
AnnArbor
Textbook prices are not as bad
as tuition and student fees
TO THE DAILY:
The Daily's recent editorial (Well Read butBroke,
01/17/2007) failed to provide an accurate under-
standing of the changing nature of today's college
textbooks. Publishers are sympathetic to students'
concerns about the cost of textbooks and offer a
range of options from which faculty can choose
for their courses. For example, there are 216 intro-

ductory psychology titles currently on sale in col-
lege bookstores around the country at retail prices
ranging from $23.44 to $120.54. These alterna-
tives - in addition to a new and expanding range
of technologies - are helping more students pass
their courses, stay in school and graduate sooner,
saving them time and money while improving
their success rates. In fact, textbook prices, which
account for less than 5 percent of the core higher
education expenses for the average four-year stu-
dent, are not rising as fast as other higher educa-
tion costs, like tuition and student fees.
According to Student Monitor, a student
research service, the average college student spent
$644 on textbooks during the 2005-2006 academ-
ic year, a cost that has remained generally steady
for the past three years. As the cost of higher edu-
cation escalates, America's publishers are helping
students get the most out of their tuition dollars
by responding to changing needs. Contrary to the
perception created by the editorial, today's col-
lege textbooks may be among the best long-term
investments a student can make.
Stacy Scarazzo Skelly
The letter writer is an assistantdirectorfor the Higher Edu-
cation Association ofAmerican Publishers
Letters Policy
All readers are encouraged to submit letters
to the editor. Please include the writer's name,
college and class standing or other University
affiliation.
Letters should be no longer than 300 words.
The Michigan Daily reserves the right to edit for
length, clarity and accuracy, and all submissions
become property of the Daily.
Letters will be printed according to timeliness,
order received and the amount of space available.
Send letters totothedaily@umich.edu. Editors can
be reached at editpage.editors@umich.edu.

6
I

Dale Winling
Rackhamn
Diversity on playing field poor
analogy for diversity in class
TO THE DAILY:
I am appalled by Sabrina Valenti's letter to the
editor (Diversity at the University should extend

Once again I find it necessary to rebuke one of
John Stiglich's outlandish claims. In his column
this week (The Bank of Wal-Mart, 01/17/2007), he
claims Wal-Mart is an American success story.
Correction: Wal-Mart crushes American success
stories. Itputs even the most successful local stores
out of business through abusive pricing schemes
and forces the population of backwoods Arkansas
to purchase generic low-quality products.
So what about those ground breaking business
methods Wal-Mart came up with? You must mean

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