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February 03, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-02-03

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4A - Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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





Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Teach for Detroit
DPS shouldn't choose between TFA and teacher's union
W ith the lowest math scores in the nation and stagger-
ing illiteracy rates, there is no question that Detroit
Public Schools are in a state of emergency. And edu-
cational crises like Detroit's are the reason that Teach For Amer-
ica was created. The program benefits teachers and students,
offering TFA volunteers experience and students a valuable
education. But financial failure in the district has caused mas-
sive downsizing and made it impossible to employ both TFA and
union teachers, forcing TFA out of Detroit. Despite financial dif-
ficulties, TFA's mission is too important to the city to be nudged
out. DPS must salvage its mismanaged budget to pay for teachers

i {- 9 " $:c§r~e
Paid with good intentlions

that will revitalize education.
TFA - a non-profit organization that
places recent college graduates in low-
income schools - came to Detroit in 2001
to help combat educational inequality. But
the program hit a stumbling block when
it was forced to terminate a contract with
Marygrove College, where TFA teachers
were obtaining certificates. The district's
unbalanced budget added to the problem,
leaving few open teaching positions. After
only a year in the city, TFA left Detroit.
Participants were given with the choice to
finish their 2-year contracts or find anoth-
er teaching location.
District-wide downsizing made it seem
that to remain in Detoit, TFA teachers would
have to take the places of teachers from
Detroit's Federation of Teachers. But the
issue isn't as simple as the teacher's union
versus TFA. In reality, both are needed in
the city and school district. It would be mis-
guided to lay off long-time Detroit teachers
who have shown a commitment to the city
through years of teaching in a struggling
system: But it would also be wrong to reject
volunteers with a desire to bridge the city's
educational gap. And TFA gives Detroit an
injection of young professionals, which the
city needs to jumpstart its economy.
But the bottom line is that Detroit stu-
dents need more teachers. In a district
with an incredible lack of resources and
students who are falling far behind the
national average for test scores and gradu-

ation rates, teachers dedicated to educa-
tional quality are essential. Detroit needs
teachers of varying backgrounds and skills
who can provide students with a wide
array of learning opportunities - and that
means taking measures to increase the
number of teachers in Detroit. The state
and city governments need to work togeth-
er to ensure both the Detroit Federation of
Teachers and Teach For America positions
to work for the betterment of students.
The burden here lies with both the state
and DPS itself. For years, the district's
money has been grossly mismanaged.
In early 2009, Gov. Jennifer Granholm
appointed Robert Bobb as DPS's emergency
financial manager to clean up the district's
disastrous finances. Bobb has started to
reverse some of the damage caused by cor-
ruption and inefficient spending, but the
district is far from equilibrium. So while
the state has a responsibility to Detroit -
and to districts across Michigan that have
been hit hard by budget cuts - to provide
adequate funding, DPS's must be account-
able for using its finances for the benefit of
its students.
Re-establishing a TFA program in
Detroit isn't the key to complete education-
al revitalization in the city, but it is part of
the solution. DPS must prioritize its spend-
ing to focus on obtaining teachers that will
provide students with the resources need-
ed to succeed.

Sometimes, the best intentions
can backfire. Like in ninth grade
when I wrote a love letter to this
girl I had a crush
on. That didn't
work out very well. y
or when I worked
at Wal-Mart and
tried to help a man
retrieve keyshe had
locked inside his
car - only to dam-
age the car. These
unintended conse- ALEX
quences to the most
altruistic plans are BILES
also commonplace
in the actions of
Let's take the minimum wage law,
for instance. Many attribute a sort of
sanctity to minimum wage and don't
dare question its existence. But the
truth is minimum wage effectively
prohibits people from working.
Mandatory wage increases cre-
ate unemployment by pricing low-
skill jobs out of the labor market in
place for capital. This is evident in
the systematic disappearance of jobs
like luggage carriers at airports. In
this case, labor has been substituted
with rental pushcarts because it's too
expensive to hire individuals.
A basic understanding of eco-
nomics explains this phenomenon
through supply and demand. The
implementation of a price floor above
the market equilibrium price will
result in a labor surplus - also known
as unemployment.
Our policymakers have essentially
made it impossible to work if your
skill set doesn't warrant the arbi-
trary wage that they have foolhardily
determined. There are no longer peo-
ple who pump your gas or ushers who
guide you to a seat in movie theaters.
Markets where groceries are carried
out to people's cars by teenagers are
a dying breed. Minimum wage laws
have put businesses in a position
where they cannot afford to hire low-.
skill workers.

Suppose I can hire a high-skilled
roofer who charges $20 per hour, but
I could hire three low-skilled roof-
ers who can do the same quality job
and pay them $6 per hour instead.
Then, assume a minimum wage of
$8 per hour is mandated. Now that
the aggregate cost of hiring three
low-skilled workers is $24, it would
be silly for me not to hire the high-
skilled roofer.
This would also allow the high-
skilled roofer to increase costs for
consumers by driving up his fee to $23
per hour. Hiring him is still cheaper
than three low-skilled roofers. Yet,
because of the minimum wage, the
consumer ends up having to subsi-
dize a price increase at the behest of
the roofer. In this sense, minimum
wage is a hidden tax, increasing costs
for consumers.
And minimum wage favors large
corporations that can deal with the
burden of incremental wage increas-
es better than "mom and pop" stores
that don't possess as much finan-
cial capital. Often, small businesses
must raise prices in order to meet
minimum wage requirements. This
distorts market forces, giving corpo-
rations an advantage.
By any measure of reason, the con-
cept that you should raise wages sim-
ply by passing a law is preposterous.
Increased wages should come from
increased productivity. After all,
people who climb the socioeconomic
ladder in this country do so because
of self-improvement and hard work
- not because of the minimum wage.
And despite well-intentioned
rhetoric behind minimum wage, peo-
ple fail to identify special interests
behind the law, like political motives.
Earning votes isn't too difficult when
you can take credit for raising the
wages of the poor - especially when
also disregarding the number of peo-
ple who are priced out of work.
Additionally, union leaders have
powerful lobbying at their disposal.
Trade union leaders, who consistent-
ly push for tougher immigration laws

and restrictions on free trade, have a
history of fearing competition from
low-wage workers. High-level mem-
bers want to maintain their wages
above those of low-skill members.
The minimum
wage prices out
low-skill workers.
So what about the poor? Research
conducted in 2006 at the University
of California, Irvine discovered that
for every 10-percent increase in mini-
mum wage, the poverty rate increases
by 3 to 4 percent. Many other studies
have shown that the minimum wage
is disproportionately detrimental to
African.Americans. Contrary to pop-
ular belief, the people that minimum
wage hurts most are precisely those
who it claims to help: the poor.
If the government wants to help
the poor, the best thing it can do is
abolish the minimum wage. As China
and India have recently learned,
policy that promotes competition
and choice, reduces taxes and pro-
tects private property rights is most
conducive to stimulating economic
growth and increasing standards of
living for the poor.
Beyond the absurdity of minimum
wage, we must recognize the threats
derived from the negative conse-
quences of well-intentioned policy.
We can reduce these social costs by
limiting the size and scope of gov-
ernment, as well as thinking twice
before implementing legislation. We
should share the concerns of policy-
makers and admire them for the soft-
ness of their hearts. Unfortunately
for many policymakers, this softness
often extends to their heads..
- Alex Biles can be reached
at jabiles@umich.edu.


Nina Amilineni, William Butler, Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt,
Brian Flaherty, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Emily Orley,
Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith
Greek life isn't a stereotype

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be
less than 300 words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation.
Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
Considering promiscuity

With sororities come stereotypes; it is the
unfortunate reality of the community. This
being my third year in the Greek Community,
I have encountered my fair share of Greek ste-
reotypes and have adopted the "take the good
with the bad" mentality. Not all sorority women
are the gum-popping, hair-twirling, bra-stuff-
ing, sloppy partiers as seen on the big screen.
But I am willing to live with the stereotype as a
vapid, shallow and hard-partying college girl if
it means participating in what I believe to be a
wonderful organization.
Many people are unaware that the first
sororities were not founded as 19th-century
organizations, in envy of fraternities, but as
part of a social movement to engage women
intellectually as well as socially. At the time,
sororities allowed women to talk openly about
topics such as philosophy and politics, which
were taboo for women to discuss and merited a
secret society. That being noted, I would never
"Go Greek" if it was merely a willing submis-
sion to objectification, as some outsiders tend
to assume.
Admittedly, recruitment tends to involve
matching outfits and loud chants, but it is the
farthest thing from glorified pageantry. Each
sorority is founded on its long-standing val-
ues and recruitment is a time to find friends
to share these values and traditions with. Not
having any Greek-affiliated family members, I
was clueless as to what to expect during formal
recruitment, but knew it would be an easy way
to meet a lot of people. To any friendless, out-
of-state freshman, it sounded appealing (for the
record, my leggings and Northface were owned
prior to joining a sorority.) It wasn't until I
lived in a chapter house that I fully realized the
true benefits of joining the Greek Community.
Eager to escape the watchful eyes of their
parents, most high school seniors are anxious
to live on their own in college. But then why do
so many freshman women commit to living in
sorority houses with a house mom under a roof
of rules and regulations? What is so appealing
about living in a house full of young women?
Well, the impeccable cleanliness, homemade
meals and bus boys are benefits to name a few
- but these are not the main selling points.
Having lived in a sorority chapter house for a
year and a half here at Michigan, I can testify

that "living in" is an unparalleled experience
that has undoubtedly taught me more than just
how to share a bathroom with dozens of other
As an executive board member, I lived with
60-plus women who were not only my friends
but also women with whom I worked to make
decisions for the betterment of the entire chap-
ter. I had to learn to seamlessly transition from
my leadership role at formal chapter to my peer
role during playful nights in the kitchen. This
unique environment allowed me to flourish
interpersonally as a leader and also as a mem-
ber of a larger community. The atmosphere
of a chapter house is rich with opportunities,
often influencing members to join more clubs
or attend campus events to support their sis-
ters. However, the best part about "living in" is
not the leadership or extracurricular opportu-
nities but having hallways filled with your best
Of course, living among such a large, diverse
group of women requires considerable amounts
of cooperation, patience and understanding,
but this diversity gives the house a culture of its
own. Arguably, the residence halls provide the
same diversity. But unlike other forms of hous-
ing, the women who occupy a chapter house
share the values instilled in the tradition of
their sorority. Despite the stereotype of beinga
locale for partying sorority girls and midnight
pillow fights, chapter houses are ideal environ-
ments to strengthen character, with a support
system for the women who occupy them. While
I'm happy to finally have a kitchen and my
much-desired own bedroom in an off-campus
apartment, a part of me will always miss living
in a sorority.
Sororities aren't perfect institutions. Like
any other organization, they have their flaws.
Among other things, our inherent competi-
tion and self-perpetuated stereotypes are
areas in need of improvement. But then again,
like other organizations, sororities allow their
members to develop leadership skills, foster
campus involvement and, most importantly,
make friends who make college the best four
years of our lives.
Lauren Hartstein is the Panhellenic
Vice President of Recruitment Internal.

M any revolutionary ideas
have come from idle con-
versations. For instance,
a simple request
from an Alabama
pastor to Dr. Mar-
tin Luther King Jr.
to deliver a speech
in front of a church ,
congregation for-
ever changed
the discourse of
racial inequality.
Similarly, Dolo- BRITTANY
res Huerta and SMITH
Cesar Chavez for-
ever changed the
notion of sepa-
rate versus equal, advocating for the
rights for migrant workers and giv-
ing distraught Americans burdened
by unequal opportunity a reason to
believe that the impossible could
indeed become possible.
One of the University's own trail-
blazers, School of Music, Theatre &
Dance senior Brandon Littlejohn,
also recognizes that dialogue is cru-
cial for achieving social change and
has sought to put his ideals to action
by changing the conversation sur-
rounding sexual behavior on campus,
which is often swept under the rug. I
have reason to hope that much-need-
ed progress is coming at a faster pace
than I had previously thought.
Yesterday, Littlejohn launched a
10-week campaign on campus under
the moniker of the Promiscuity Proj-
ect Campaign - P2, for short. He
sparked my interest to get involved
with this campaign, which signifi-
cantly affects not only the health in
communities of color but also the
University campus at large - includ-
ing LGBT communities and those
who identify as heterosexual.
As Littlejohn said to me, the P2
campaign is aimed at dealing with

"sex and...unspeakable sex acts people
participate in to put themselves at
risk" for sexually transmitted diseas-
es, both infections that can be cured
and incurable diseases that can't be as
easily resolved by a trip to the doctor.
The Promiscuity Project's appeal to
me doesn't come merely from the cam-
paign's catchy name - though admit-
tedly it is quite unique. Rather, I took
notice of the ways in which Littlejohn
has engaged students across campus
and focused it on issues that directly
affect the University community.
Littlejohn's previous efforts have
hit home for many and engaged a
variety of groups by reaching out to
the community in creative and con-
structive ways. For example, he has
hosted testing sites at The Office of
Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs every
Tuesday evening from 6 to 7 p.m. and
held a video screening last semes-
ter aimed at promoting HIV testing
advocacy through film and music.
Littlejohn is using art to raise the
consciousness of students, making us
aware that when we take on the sta-
tus of being sexually active, we must
then also act maturely. We not only
have a responsibility to ourselves to
care about our health but have a duty
to our partners to be "in the know"
about our sexual health as well.
I was instantly motivated to
involve myself with Littlejohn's cam-
paign when I saw an image from one
ofhis advertisements, which depicted
a scene that was clearly an adulterous
affair. It wasn't clear in the picture if
the male was having an affair with
another female or if the female was
having an affair with another male,
but what was clear was that there
was something adulterous going on.
For me, the ad hit home by conveying
the sort of story about sexually trans-
mitted infections that pulls most at
my heartstrings - the story told by

women and men who have contracted
AIDS/HIV from their partners, who
often (unbeknownst to them) are not
as committed to the relationships.
That issues like contraction of STIs
in committed relationships - issues
that were once considered taboo -
are being communicated so openly in
dialogue around campus is a sign of
Campus needs0
frank discussion
about STIs.

I am nevertheless frustrated by sit-
uations in which the male or female
in the relationship acquires a sexu-
ally transmitted disease when, in
hindsight, he or she was behaving
responsibly. Individuals who cheaton
the down-low, outside the understood
relationships and without their part-
ners' knowledge, selfishly put their
partners at risk. Though I typically
felt powerless to remedy such situa-
tions, I now recognize that there's a
venue for action. We can raise aware-
ness on campus and encourage open
discourse about important sexual
issues. One way to do that is by part-
nering with Littlejohn.
Considering that a cure hasn't been
discovered for HIV/AIDS, the conse-
quences of cheating can be very nega-
tive and serious for a couple's health.
But I have hope that by raising aware-
ness and spreading constructive mes-
sages about safe sex and cheating, we
can build a healthier discourse that
ultimately saves and improves lives.
- Brittany Smith can be reached
at smithritwaumich edu.


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