2A - Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1327
GARY GRACA DAN NEWMAN
dita r in Chief BusinessManager
Starting of a research university
Anyone who has spent time
on the Hill has most likely
noticed the white dome peak-
ing out between the Alice
Lloyd and Couzens Residence
Halls. However, few probably
know they are looking at the
first ever astronomical obser-
vatory in Michigan.
The Detroit Observatory,
completed in 1854, was the
center of University President
Henry Philip Tappan's efforts
to transform the Univer-
sity into one of the country's
original research universi-
ties. According to the website
of the University Lowbrow
Astronomers, a student orga-
nization comprised of about
90 amateur astronomers, Tap-
pan had "a vision of the Uni-
versity that included not only
the traditional classical course
but also a scientific course,"
and believed astronomy to be
an integral part of this cur-
The observatory was
named in honor of a group
of Detroit businessmen, who
proved to be the most gener-
ous donors once fundraising
efforts began. According to
Karen Wight, program coor-
dinator for the Detroit Obser-
vatory, the major motivation
behind the businessmen's
donation was their need for an
accurate time standard to gov-
ern Michigan train schedules.
An observatory would help to
create such a standard.
Tappan himself traveled to
Europe to purchase the instru-
ments for the observatory.
When he returned, however,
he was dismayed to find that
construction had begun at the
corner of Observatory Street
and Ann Street, which at the
time was a half-mile from
Central Campus. Wight said
this spot was chosen because
the real estate was "cheap and
available." As it turns out, the
unconventional location was
a good choice, as many other
universities who built obser-
vatories on their central cam-
puses ended up knocking them
down and relocating off-cam-
pus, a result of rising costs and
demand for centrally located
continued to use the observa-
tory until the 1950s, when its
telescopes were considered
old-fashioned and the lighyt
pollution from the growing
Ann Arbor provided less than
ideal viewing conditions.
According to Wight, while
many minor discoveries had
been made at the observatory,
"1850s astronomy was not
looking to revolutionize the
world. They really wanted to
verify Newton's understand-
ing of the universe."
Today, the building bears
the distinction of being the
oldest campus structure in its
original and unaltered form.
It is second only to the Presi-
dent's House in age. Recently,
the observatory has re-opened
for observations and public
visits, afterdecades of non-use
following a 1998 restoration.
The building is open to the
public twice a month for tours,
as well as for public viewing
According to Wight, these
viewings are a "very rare
event" and are always tenta-
tively scheduled due to the
tendency of clouds to roll in,
"which," she says "in Michi-
gan, they do every 10 minutes
Letters to the Editor
OfficehoursSn.-Thurs.t11 .m. - 2a..
The Detroit Observatory, located on the Hill,
houses two large telescopes from the mid-
CRIME NOTES CAMPUS EVENTS & NOTES
Driver arrested, Vehicles collide, Lecture on Job networking U.S. military officials have
taken to jail no injuries Arabic works workshop proposed lifting a ban that
J prevents women from serv-
WHERE:1000 block Fuller St. WHERE: Medical Center WHAT: History Prof. Juan WHAT: Senior counselors Yao submarines ccordn
WHEN: Saturday at about 6:25 WHEN: Sunday at about noon Cole will discuss the transla- will discuss career network- a icd f fight.ngi
p.m. WHAT: Two vehicles were tions of writer Kahil Gibran's ingafor women. $1S for par- mlsorestr tefrom tg tgin
WHAT: A subject was arrested involved in an accident, Univer- works and his influence on ticipants.
for drunk driving,.University sity Police reported. There were the Arab Renaissance. WHO: Center for the Educa- report said.
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Snr>teberviaU.S. malae$1Winterersm(Jenuaryen tougpri lis15,searlngSeptemn
tihropril s$191. Univrsty tfiitenaiesujct t:anrduedsusciptionrate.Oncanpus
ubsciptionsforfaltermare$35.iSubscriptihpsnust eprepaid.The Michigapp ipyaogr
Police reported. He was taken
to Washtenaw County Jail.
no injuries and both vehicles
experienced minor damage.
WHO: Department of Com-
WHEN: Today at 4 p.m.
. nkownsubec WHERE: Wolverine R
Broken window, found tres
no suspects Funding for
WHERE: South Quad er
WHERE: Michigan Union WHEN: Saturday at about 1:25 internships
WHEN: Sunday about 8:15 p.m.
am. WHAT: A subject was found abroad
tion of Women
WHEN: Today at 1p.m.
WHERE: Center for the
Education of Women, 330 E.
. An editorial in yes-
terday's edition of the
Michigan Daily "A Smarter
Loan System" inaccurately
reported that the financial
aid legislation passed the
House on Thursday. It was
actually passed last Thurs-
day, Sept. 17.
" Please report any error
in the Daily to correc-
The only treatments
available for Amyotrophic
Lateral Sclerosis, better
known as Lou Gehrig's dis-
ease, only slow the effects of
the disease, but can't reverse
FoOR MORE, SEE OPINION PAGE 4A
A third-party on Face-
book.com created an
application polling how
many people think Presi-
dent Barack Obama should be
killed, according to CNN.com.
The application was immedi-
ately disabled, although the
U.S. Secret Service is investi-
gating the issue.
WHAT: The exterior of a win-
dow on the south side of the
Union was broken, University
Police reported. Maintenance
trespassing near the front desk
in South Quad, University
Police reported. He was read
trespass rights and escorted
from the building.
WHAT: Experts will dis-
cuss funding options for
international internships and
WHO: International Center
WHEN: Today at 12 p.m.
WHERE: Kuenzel Room,
More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation
Obama says more
time in school
will boost grades,
WASHINGTON (AP) - Students
beware: The summer vacation you
just enjoyed could be sharply cur-
tailed if President Barack Obama
gets his way.
Obama says American kids spend
too littletime in school, putting them
at a disadvantage with other students
around the globe.
"Now, I know longer school days
and school years are not wildly pop-
ular ideas," the president said earlier
this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha,
not in my family, and probably not in
yours. But the challenges of a new
century demand more time in the
The president, who has a sixth-
grader and a third-grader, wants
schools to add time to classes, to stay
open late and to let kids in on week-
ends so they have a safe place to go.
"Our school calendar is based
upon the agrarian economy and not
too many of our kids are working the
fields today," Education Secretary
Arne Duncan said in a recent inter-
view with The Associated Press.
Fifth-grader Nakany Camara is of
two minds. She likes the four-week
summer program at her school,
Brookhaven Elementary School in
Rockville, Md. Nakany enjoys seeing
her friends there and thinks summer
school helped boost her grades from
two Cs to the honor roll.
But she doesn't want a longer
school day. "I would walk straight
out the door," she said.
Domonique Toombs felt the same
way when she learned she would stay
for an extra three hours each day in
sixth grade at Boston's Clarence R.
Edwards Middle School.
"I was like, 'Wow, are you seri-
ous?"' she said. "That's three more
hours I won't be able to chill with my
friends after school."
Her school is part of a 3-year-old
state initiative to add 300 hours of
school time in nearly two dozen
schools. Early results are positive.
Even reluctant Domonique, who just
started ninth grade, feels differently
now. "I've learned a lot." she said.
Does Obama want every kid to
do these things? School until din-
nertime? Summer school? And what
about the idea that kids today are
overscheduled and need more time
Obama and Duncan say kids in
the United States need more school
because kids in other nations have
"Young people in other countries
are going to school 25, 30 percent
longer than our students here," Dun-
can told the AP. "I want to just level
the playing field."
While it is true that kids in many
other countries have more school
days, it's nottrue they all spend more
time in school.
Kids in the U.S. spend more hours
in school (,146 instructional hours
per year) than do kids in the Asian
countries that persistently outscore
the U.S. on math and science tests
- Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050),
Japan (1,005) and HongKong(1,013).
That is despite the fact that Taiwan,
Japan and Hong Kong have longer
school years (190 to 201 days) than
does the U.S. (180 days).
Regardless, there is a strong case
for adding time to the school day.
Researcher Tom Loveless of the
Brookings Institution looked at
math scores in countries that added
math instruction time. Scores rose
significantly, especially in countries
that added minutes to the day, rather
than days to the year.
"Ten minutes sounds trivial to a
school day, but don't forget, these
math periods in the U.S. average 45
minutes," Loveless said. "Percent-
age-wise, that's a pretty healthy
In the U.S., there are many exam-
ples of gains when time is added to
the school day.
Charter schools are known for
having longer school days or weeks
or years. For example, kids in the
KIPP network of 82 charter schools
across the country go to school from
7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three
hours longer than the typical day.
They go to school every other Sat-
urday and for three weeks in the
summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes
exceed their school district averages
on state tests.
In Massachusetts' expanded
learning time initiative, early results
indicate that kids in some schools
do better on state tests than do kids
at regular public schools. The extra
time, which schools can add as hours
or days, is for three things: core aca-
demics - kids struggling in English,
for example, get an extra English
class; more time for teachers; and
enrichment time for kids.
Regular public schools are add-
ing time, too, though it is optional
and not usually part of the regular
school day. Their calendar is pretty
much set in stone. Most states set the
minimum number of school days at
180 days, though a few require 175 to
Several schools are going year-
round by shortening summer vaca-
tion and lengthening other breaks.
Many schools aregoingbeyondthe
traditional summer school model, in
which schools give remedial help to
kids who flunked or fell behind.
Summer is a crucial time for kids,
especially poorer kids, because pov-
erty is linked to problems that inter-
fere with learning, such as hunger
and less involvement by their par-
That makes poor children almost
totally dependent on their learn-
ing experience at school, said Karl
Alexander, a sociology professor at
Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Univer-
sity, home of the National Center for
Disadvantaged kids, on the whole,
make no progress in the summer,
they actually fall back. Wealthier
kids have parents who read to them,
have strong language skills and go
to great lengths to give them learn-
ing opportunities such as computers,
summer camp, vacations, music les-
sons, or playingcon sports teams.