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November 05, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-05

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4A - Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Michigan Daiiy - michigandaily.com

C tpiian atlp
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109




They're not offering the classes I need.
I don't know what I'm going to do:'
- Susan Li, a senior at the University of California, commenting on her inability to complete her major due to a
lack of classes stemming from cuts to school funding, as reported yesterday by the New York Times.

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
Gay marriage will wn
Despite Maine's ban, gay rights activists gaining ground
As the Election Day results began trickling in Wednesday
night, it became clear that gay marriage supporters had
suffered another stinging defeat at the hands of intoler-
ance. The voters of Maine turned their back on a law passed by
the legislature to finally extend legal recognition to gay partners.
This defeat, both shocking and distressing for gay rights support-
ers, makes Maine the 31st state to ban gay marriage in a popular
vote. But despite this setback, gay rights supporters are, slowly but
surely, gaining ground in their struggle. Advocates must stay strong
and keep fighting while the rest of the country grows steadily more
cognizant of the discrimination inherent in anti-gay marriage laws.



''o wrr Ess

School spending solved

In May, Maine's legislature passed a law
giving same-sex couples the right to legally
wed - a huge step forward for equality in
the state. But implementation of the law
was put on hold because of a conservative
uproar calling for its repeal. Groups hop-
ing to get the law repealed in a referen-
dum launched a successful petition drive
and, ultimately, a same-sex marriage ban
made its way onto the ballot. The ban was
approved by 53 percent of the voters, mean-
ing that every time a gay marriage ban deci-
sion has come before a statewide vote, the
ban has passed.
But no matter how many states approve
them, bans on gay marriage are indefen-
sibly morally wrong. No degree of intoler-
ance can hide the fact that gay relationships
deserve the exact same legal recognition
that heterosexual marriage receives. Nei-
ther state nor federal governments should
have the right to hold certain marriages
less valid than others. That's because same-
sex relationships are just as legitimate and
loving as any heterosexual relationship,
and failing to recognize them is a travesty
of justice.
But despite the fact that one more state
has been added to the list of those who
banned gay marriage, the movement for
equality is gaining ground. Maine's ban

was passed by a much slimmer margin than
California's last year. Protect Maine Equal-
ity, the campaign to defeat the ban, raised
$1.5 million more than its opponents - an
impressive feat, as the opponents are usu-
ally extremely well funded. So even though
gay couples might feel further away from
their end goal, the tide is turning.
After all, important gains are being made
across the country. A Texas court recently
recognized an out-of-state same-sex mar-
riage couple and deemed the state's ban
unconstitutional. And on Election Day in
Michigan, Kalamazoo voters approved a
measure banning housing discrimination
based on sexual orientation. These victo-
ries may seem small, but they reflect the
basic fact that the gay rights movement will
ultimately prevail in convincing enough
Americans that gay relationships are lov-
ing, committed and healthy.
But this truth does not excuse the actions
of the voters of Maine or any of the other
states that banned gay marriage - includ-
ing Michigan. Same-sex marriage bans are
nothing more than codified discrimination,
and Americans need to realize that later
generations will view these bans the same
way we now view bans on interracial mar-
riage. States have an obligation to overcome
this parallel immediately.

have no idea what to make of this
year's election results. Repub-
licans won governorships in
Virginia and New
Jersey, but lost
a House race in
New York. Maine
banned gay mar-
riage, allowed the
dispensing of medi-
cal marijuana and
said noto a limit on
government spend- ROBERT
ing. If there's some SOAVE
trend in there, I fail
to see it. So instead
of making some
broad generalization about how this
election reflects the country's mood,
P'm going to zoom in on just one vote
- the decisive'defeat of the Regional
Enhancement Millage in Washtenaw
The millage would have raised
property taxes in Washtenaw Coun-
ty to solve a budget deficit of several
million dollars and generate $30 mil-
lion for the county each year for five
years. Property owners would pay an
additional $2 for every $1,000 of tax-
able assets, meaning that taxes would
have increased by about 11.4 percent.
But the millage was defeated, with 60
percent of voters in opposition.
Why? Washtenaw County residents
clearly didn't think they could afford
the tax increase, even for schools.
Indeed, annarbor.com quoted an Ypsi-
lanti resident as saying, "I took a big
pay cut ... I just couldn't afford to pay
more, as much as I would have liked
to." It's likely thatthis was the prevail-
ing sentiment among those voting no.
But because school funding can
only come from one tax source or
another, saying "we can't afford it" is
the same as saying "we are spending
too much." The only question, then, is
this: Are these voters right in thinking

that Michigan spends enough on edu-
Gov. Jennifer Granholm seemed
to agree with them when she vetoed
some of the funding for K-12 educa-
tion last week in the final version of
the state's budget for fiscal year 2010.
As if realizing for the first time that the
state is broke, Granholm cut per pupil
funding for schools by at least $292
per student. But this paints a bleaker
portrait than Michigan deserves.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's
2007 data, Michigan spends $9,912
per pupil - so per-pupil funding is
really only decreasing by three per-
cent. Considering that Michigan was
already above the national average,
our schools probably aren't as badly
off as feared.
, But the Census Bureau data also
provides an answer to my origi-
nal question of whether Michigan
spends too much on education. As it
turns out, 'onlyvight states had more
revenue 'than Michigan to spend on
schools. When the revenue sources
were broken down into federal, state
and local sources, Michigan moved to.
fifth place for percentage of revenue
being generated at the state level. This
means that the percentage of revenue
for public education being generated
by Michigan taxpayers is greater than
in 45 other states. Does Michigan
really seem like it's financially secure
enough to give more money to educa-
tion than 45 of its neighbors?
The gut reaction to this might be,
"Well, at least they're spending lots of
money on top-of-the-line textbooks,
teaching materials, and facilities." But
the real cost of education is employee
compensation. Indeed, according to
the Daily, the Ann Arbor school dis-
trict spends 85 percent of its funds on
compensating employees. And accord-
ing to the Census Bureau data, Michi-
gan's public school employees receive

the seventh highest salary and benefit
packages ofallteachersinthe country.
All these numbers show that Michi-
gan clearly isn't lacking in its funding
of primary education - and that its
public teachers are well paid com-
pared with other states. Add in the
fact that public school teachers nation-
wide make 61 percent more than pri-
vate school teachers nationwide, and
what we have are some teachers who
certainly don't need increased state
funding to survive.
Quality education
needs concessions
from teachers.
Simitarly; it does not""take a mill-
age," as the pro-millage group's slogan
argued, to close budget gaps: We don't
need to fire anybody just because we
didn'tpass the millage. Werdon'tneed
to reduce curricula, downgrade text-
books, increase class sizes or cut arts
programs. We simply need to pay our
public teachers - who are already
paid better than those in other states,
and vastly better than private school
teachers - slightly less. This isn't an
unreasonable request, as workers in
other sectors across the country have
already accepted salary cuts in the
face of an inhospitable economy - and
in Michigan, especially.
This isn't about the kids. Michigan
can maintain the quality of its edu-
cational system if its employees will
accept compromises.
- Robert Soave is the Daily's
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at rsoave@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Ben Caleca, Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty,
Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
w student turnout hurt from that middle-income family.
illG e's chn ces I don't want to belittle the amount, but many
families spend that much or more on game day
festivities. They could probably "sacrifice" a


The finalfron tier?

TO THE DAILY: single Saturday t
Students turned out in droves for the 2008 from their living
presidential election. But this year, when their children wi
something locally urgent was at stake, less and have a chanc
than five percent voted. In some precincts It seems likea
like the Michigan Union and Mary Markley behind. Students
Residence Hall, less than one percent voted, government sups
according to the Michigan Daily (County voters could have made
reject school millage, 11/04/2009). The issue of wide proposal th
funding for Washtenaw County schools inun- ing yes, students
dated the news in recent weeks and campaign education and tb
signs speckled front yards, but students were bill. And that w;
as cognizant of this vote as they are of traffic voting booth for?
when blindly crossing the streets.
Proposal 1 would have provided Washtenaw Justin Schott
County schools with an additional $30 million. University alum
It's not just college kids taking the hit, but chil-
dren as young as five years old. Last week, Gov. Students
Jennifer Granholm - once a champion for edu-
cation - cut an additional $51.7 million from millage on
school districts, mainly in Southeast Michi- Jfll ge O
gan. Michigan has made massive budget cuts
for K-12 and higher education and holds the TO THE DAILY:
dubious distinction of being one of five states University Ch
to spend more on incarceration than higher who are you to to
education. The Michigan Promise scholarship vote for the prop
is no longer a promise. will probably be1
Proposal 1 was put on the ballot to maintain four years when
critical funding for arts, athletics, Advanced find it fun to spes
Placement courses, teacher salaries and other ology is always es
extracurricular programs that contribute to ers bear the costs
quality education. Critics of the proposal com- I'm not minim
plained that Ann Arbor would subsidize other cation. But we h
districts by paying $15 million and receiving time and place f
only $11 million in return, according to a for- during an econot
mula mandated by state law. Opponents also choice.
argued that districts should be thriftier and And money is
spend within their means. Supporters respond- thing. On a broa
ed that Ann Arbor Public Schools cut $19 mil- spends more mc
lion in the last four years, and that we shouldn't than almost ever
punish our children for Michigan's economic dents perform ot
woes and financial mistakes made by adults. age on reading,n
And the cost to homeowners? A mill is a 0.1 school districts,:
percent tax on taxable property value (50 per- have. Other natio
cent of the most recent assessment). If a fam- less and still ma
ily paid $200,000 for a house, and the taxable shine us.
value is $100,000, a one mill tax amounts to
$100 per year. Proposal 1 sought to raise a 2 Andrea Siklosi
mill tax, which would have been $200 per year LSA junior

o enjoy the game with friends
room or a tailgate knowing
ill receive a quality education
e to succeed.
an issue students would rally
s, many of whom depend on
sport for a college education,
the difference for a county-
at lost by 8,000 votes. By vot-
would have been supporting
heir landlords would pay the
asn't worth stumbling into a
wrong to push
7property owners
apter of College Democrats,
alk? You advocate students to
posed school millage, yet you
leaving Ann Arbor in three to
you graduate college. Do you
nd other people's money? Ide-
xpensive, especially when oth-
izing the importance of edu-
ave to realize that there is a
for everything. Raising taxes
mic slump is not an intelligent
not the solution for every-
ader level, the United States
oney per pupil on education
ry other nation. But U.S. stu-
nly at the international aver-
math and science tests. To the
I say, make do with what you
ons survive with considerably
nage to outperform and out-

Addressing Congress on May
25, 1961, President John Ken-
nedy famously challenged the
United States to
land a man on the-
moon and bring
him home safely. At
the time, America8
- locked in an arms
race with the Soviet
Union, bursting
with national pride,
and looking starry- -
eyed toward theC
cosmos - was eas- CHRIS
ily convinced of the KOSLOWSKI
moon's profound -_
importance. The
public forked over
$25 billion for the Apollo program,
then one of the largest expenditures
ever by a nation in peacetime.
After funding cuts, a drastic
decrease in public interest and two
space shuttle disasters, NASA is des-
perate to rekindle America's love for
space exploration. Many of NASA's
most famous names, including Apollo
11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, are lobby-
ing hard to convince Congress and
President Barack Obama to earmark
more funding for a manned mission
to Mars. They claim a Mars program
is paramount to the advancement of
scientific discovery and the survival
of the space agency.
Former President George W. Bush
signed his Vision for Space Explo-
ration into law in late 2005. It set
milestones and appropriated fed-
eral dollars for a program slated to
return astronauts to the moon and
then, eventually, the red planet. As
research from the project progresses,
NASA and the public are quickly real-
izing that sending people to Mars is a
much harder, longer and more dan-
gerous endeavor than the 1960s moon
missions. And of course, the biggest

obstacle is cost.
Quoted in an article in the Tele-
graph this summer, Norman Augus-
tine, formerCEOof Lockheed Martin,
said, "With a few exceptions, we have
the technology or the knowledge that
we could go to Mars if we wanted
with humans." What we don't have,
between our tepid economy and the
trillions of dollars of new government
spending, is money to spare. It seems
unlikely that NASA will be able to
execute a Mars mission anytime soon
- that is, unless we ignore the second
criterion of Kennedy's challenge.
A way to cut costs that is gaining
popularity among space enthusiasts,
and even high-ranking directors at
NASA, is to send astronauts to Mars
but not bring them back. A one-way
ticket would eliminate the need to
transport fuel for the return trip, for,
a system to escape Mars's gravity, and
for a vehicle that could withstand re-
entry into Earth's atmosphere. The
cuts would save the taxpayers bil-
lions and trim years, maybe decades,
of preparation off the program's esti-
mated completion time.
John Olson, NASA's director of
exploration systems integration,
noted in an interview with The
Guardian that sending explorers on
one-way missions is not new. "It's
really no different than the pioneer-
ing spirit of many in past history,
who took the one-way trip across the
ocean, or the trip out west across the
United States with no intention of
ever returning."
Though I can't imagine ever want-
ing to spend my final days alone on a
dead, red rock millions of miles away
from the nearest companion, I sus-
pect many older space junkies, per-
haps even Aldrin himself, would be
thrilled to embark on such a historic
journey. After all, we all will even-
tually die. Why not end life with the

ultimate exclamation point of being
the first person to walk on Mars?
Humans are much more versatile
than unmanned probes at conduct-
ing experiments on alien worlds. A
human on Mars could help us learn
about the birth of our solar system
and the origins of life on Earth, and
maybe even begin to develop Mars as
a colony that could save our species if
Earth ever becomes unviable.
Still, I just can't support sending an *
astronaut to his or her death only to
cut costs. Perhaps if a one-way ticket
was the only way to send someone to
Mars, I would think differently. The
potential for boundless scientific dis-
covery justifies a considerable amount
We need to make
sure we can bring
astronauts home.
of risk. But a no-return mission would
ultimately send the message that an
astronaut's life is worth the amount
of dollars and years saved by not
devising a way to bring him home,
and that's wrong. Even in war, when
civilian lives are at stake, the U.S.
government does not send soldiers on
missions with zero chance of return.
I think it's wise to keep Kennedy's
words in mind as we reach out to our
red, celestial neighbor. We chose to
go to the moon and we choose now to
go to Mars, not because it's easy, but
because it's hard. Sending an Ameri-
can on a one-way mission to save a
few billion dollars, even if the rewards
would be great, is the easy way out.
- Chris Koslowski can be
reached at cskoslow@umich.edu.

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