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February 01, 2008 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, February 1 2008 - 3

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Friday, February 1, 2008 - 3

NEWS BRIEFS
LANSING
Schembechler
could get official
day in Michigan
A University of Michigan grid-
iron legend might get his own offi-
cial day in the state.
A state House committee on yes-
terday approved a bill that would
designate the date of the University
of Michigan's first home football
game each season Bo Schembechler
Day. The bill now goes to the House
floor.
Schembechler coached the Wol-
verines from1969 through l989. His
Michigan teams won 194 games.
Schembechler died in 2006.
The bill is sponsored by Rebekah
Warren, a Democratic representa-
tive from Ann Arbor.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan
Top al-Qaida
official killed
Abu Laith al-Libi, a top al-Qaida
commander blamed for bombing an
Afghan base while Vice President
Cheney visited last year, was killed
in Pakistan by an airstrike, a U.S.
government official said yesterday.
The strike was conducted by a
Predatorunmanned dronetheoffi-
cial said. It was carried out against
a facility in north Waziristan, the
lawless tribal area bordering Af-
ghanistan. The official spoke on
condition of anonymity because
he is not authorized to discuss the
strike publicly.
An estimated 12 people were
killed in the strike late Monday or
early Tuesday, including Arabs,
Turkeman from central Asia and
local Taliban members, according
to an intelligence official in the
area who spoke on condition of
anonymity. He said the bodies of
those killed were badly mangled
by the force of the explosion and it
was difficult to identify them.
WASHINGTON
Consumer spending
skids in December
Consumers increased their
spending at the weakest pace in
six months while applications for
unemployment benefits soared last
week, two more signs the economy
is weakening.
The Commerce Department re-
ported yesterday that consumer
spending edged up just 0.2 percent
in December - the year's peak
shopping season - down sharply
from a 1 percent gain in November.
It was the weakest performance in
this area since a similar 0.2 percent
rise in June of last year.
Meanwhile, the Labor Depart-
ment reported that the number of
laid off workers filing applications
for unemployment benefits soared
by 69,000 to 375,000. That was the
highestlevel for jobless claims since
the week of Oct. 8, 2005, when the
economy was dealing with the dis-
ruptions caused by Hurricane Ka-
trina and the other Gulf Coast hur-
ricanes.
DETROIT

Kilpatrick returns
to City Hall
As Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
returns to City Hall after publicly
apologizing to his wife, children and
Detroit residents for events surfacing
from a text messaging sex scandal, a
criminal investigation into whether
or not he and his top aide lied under
oath during a whistle-blower's law-
suit still hangs over his head.
Kilpatrick ended his 10-minute
speech Wednesday night from the
family's church with: "I'll see you at
work tomorrow."
Yesterday was his first day in
the office following a week of self-
imposed seclusion, which he says
included focusing on his family.
In Wednesday's emotional but
carefully worded televised speech,
Kilpatrick avoided direct mention
of racy text messages that appear to
contradict his sworn denials of an
affair with Chief of Staff Christine
Beatty.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports
,,S D EAT H S
3942
Number of American service mem-
bers who have died in the war in
Iraq, according to The Associated
Press. No new deaths were identi-
fied yesterday.

Suicide
rate among
troops rises
in 2007
Despite Army's
emphasis on mental
health, rate increases
by almost 20 percent
WASHINGTON (AP) - Mul-
tiple new efforts aimed at stem-
ming suicides in the Army are
falling short of their goal: The
service anticipates another jump
in the annual number of soldiers
who killed themselves or tried to,
including in the Iraq and Afghan-
istan war zones.
As many as 121 soldiers com-
mitted suicide in 2007, an increase
of some 20 percent over 2006,
according to preliminary figures
released yesterday.
The number who tried to com-
mit suicide or injured themselves
for some other reason jumped
six-fold in the last several years
- from 350 in 2002 to about
2,100 incidents last year.
Officials said an unknown
portion of that increase was
likely due to use of a new elec-
tronic tracking system that is
more thorough in capturing
health data than the previous
system.
The increases come despite
a host of efforts to improve the
mental health of a force that has
been stressed by lengthy and
repeated deployments to the lon-
ger-than-expected war in Iraq,
and the most deadly year yet in
the now six-year-old conflict in
Afghanistan.
"We have been perturbed by the
rise despite all of our efforts," said
Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry
consultant to the Army surgeon
general.
Those efforts include more
training and education programs,
the hiring of more mental health
professionals and the addition
of screening programs launched
after a succession of studies found
the military's peacetime health
care system overwhelmed by
troops cominghome from the two
foreign wars.
"We know we've been doing
a lot of training and education,"
Ritchie told a Pentagon press con-
ference. "Clearly we need to be
doing more."
The preliminary figures on
2007 show that among active duty
soldiers and National Guard and
Reserve troops that have been
activated there were 89 confirmed
suicides and 32 deaths that are
suspected suicides but still under
investigation.
Less than a third of those who
committed suicide - about 34 -
happened during deployments
in Iraq. That compared with 27
in Iraq the previous year. Four
were confirmed in Afghanistan
compared with three there in
2006.

SENIORS SIGN OFF

RODRIGO GAYA/Dai
This is the last issue of The Michigan Daily under the leadership of the senior class. To read goodbyes written by each of the seniors, visit michigandaily.com.
Virtual classrooms face growing pains

As popularity of online public
schools increases, some
question who should pay
By SAM DILLON
The New York Times
Weekday mornings, three of Tracie Weldie's
children eat breakfast, make beds and trudge
off to public school - in their case, downstairs
to their basement in a suburb here, where their
mother leads them through math and other
lessons outlined by an Internet-based charter
school.
Half a million American children take classes
online, with a significant group, like the Weldies,
getting all their schooling from virtual public
schools. The rapid growth of these schools has
provoked debates in courtrooms and legislatures
over money, as the schools compete with local
districts for millions in public dollars, and over
issues like whether online learning is appropri-
ate for young children.
One of the sharpestdebateshas concerned the
Weldies' school in Wisconsin, where last week
the backers of online education persuaded state
lawmakers to keep it and 11 other virtual schools
open despite a court ruling against them and the
opposition of the teachers union.
Two models of online schooling predomi-
nate. In Florida, Illinois and half a dozen other
states, growth has been driven by a state-led,
state-financed virtual school that does not give
a diploma but offers courses that supplement
regular work at a traditional school. Generally,
these schools enroll only middle and high school
students.
At the Florida Virtual School, the largest
Internet public school in the country, more than
50,000 students are taking courses this year.
School authorities in Traverse City, Mich., hope
to use online courses provided by the Michigan
Virtual School next fall to educate several hun-
dred students in their homes, alleviating a class-
room shortage.
The other model is a full-time online char-

ter school like the Wisconsin Virtual Academy. were draining them financially, districts filed
About 90,000 children get their education from suit in 2001, portraying online schools as little
one of 185 such schools nationwide. They are more than home schooling at taxpayer expense.
publicly financed, mostlyelementary and middle The districts lost, but the debate has continued.
schools. The state auditor in Kansas last year raised a
Many parents attracted to online charters different concern, finding that the superinten-
have previously home-schooled their children, dent of a tiny prairie district running an online
including Weldie. Her children, Isabel, Harry school had in recent years given 130 students,
and Eleanor -- all in elementary school -- down- and with them $106,000 in per-pupil payments,
load assignments and communicate intermit- to neighboring districts that used the students'
tently with their certified teachers over the names to pad enrollment counts. The auditor
Internet, but they also read story books, write in concluded that the superintendent had carried
workbooks, and do arithmetic at a table in their out the subterfuge to compensate the other dis-
basement. Legally, they are considered public tricts for not opening their own online schools.
school students, not home-schoolers, because In Colorado, school districts have lost thou-
their online schools are taxpayer-financed and sands of students to virtual schools, and, in 2006,
subject to federal testing requirements. a state audit found that one school, run by a rural
Despite enthusiastic support from parents, district, was using four licensed teachers to teach
the schools have met with opposition from some 1,500 students across the state. The legislature
educators, who say elementary students may be responded last year by establishing a new divi-
too young for Internet learning, and from teach- sion of the Colorado Department of Education to
ers, unions and school boards, partly because tighten regulation of online schools.
they divert state payments from the online stu- The Wiscosin Virtual Academy has 20 certi-
dent's home district. fied, unionized teachers, and 800 students who
Other opposition has arisen because many communicate with one another over the Internet.
online charters contract with for-profit com- The school has consistently met federal test-
panies to provide their courses. The Wisconsin ing requirements, and many parents, includ-
academy, for example, is run by the tiny North- ing Weldie, expressed satisfaction with the K12
ern Ozaukee School District, north of Milwau- curriculum, which allows her children to move
kee, in close partnership with K12 Inc., which through lessons at their own pace, unlike tra-
works with similar schools in 17 states. ditional schools, where teachers often pause to
The district receives annual state payments take account of slower students. Isabel Weldie,
of $6,050 for each of its 800 students, which it 5, is in kindergarten, "But in math I'm in first
uses to pay teachers and buy its online curriculm grade," she said during a break in her school day
from K12. recently.
Saying he suspected "corporate profiteering" "That's what I love most about this curricu-
in online schooling, state Sen. John Lehman, lum," her mother said. "There's no reason for Isa-
a Democrat who is chairman of the education bel to practice counting if she can already add."
committee, last month proposed cutting the pay- In 2004, the teachers union filed a lawsuit
ments to virtual schools to $3,000 per student. against the school, challenging the expansive
But during legislative negotiations that proposal role given to parents, who mustspend four to five
was dropped. hours daily leading their children through les-
Jeff Kwitowski, a K12 spokesman, said, "We son plans and overseeing their work. Teachers
are a vendor and no different from thousands of monitor student progress and answer questions
other companies that provide products and ser- in a couple of half hour telephone conferences
vices to districts and schools." per month, and in interactive online classes
Pennsylvania has also debated the financing using conferencing software, held several times
of virtual charter schools. Saying such schools monthly.

WANT TO JOIN THE
NEWS STAFF?
E-mail herring@michigandaily.com
i The U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance
University Dance Company presents
STRAVINSKY
R EVI SIT E D
Five original modern dance works set to music by Igor
Stravinsky (including "Ebony Concerto," and "Norwegian
Moods"), Darrin Ross and Stephen Rush, with choreography
by guest artists Rennie Harris, Daniel Gwirtzman, and Ginger
Thatcher with faculty Amy Chavasse and Jessica Fogel.
January 31 at 7:30 PM . February 1 & 2 at 8 PM
February 3 at 2 PM " Power Center
Tickets $24 and $18. +Students $9 with ID
League Ticket Office . 734-764-2538

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