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January 13, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-13

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4A - Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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



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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Revitalizing education
Teaching fellowship is necessary investment in education
While the state continues to struggle with severe budget
cuts, the introduction of an education program may
spark a glimmer of hope for the state's recovery. On
Thursday, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and officials from six Michi-
gan colleges, including the University of Michigan, announced
the creation of a fellowship program to train students for their
master's degrees in education and place them in some of Michi-
gan's most underprivileged school districts. The program will
help to fill the needs of these struggling districts. The University
should encourage enrollment in the program and encourage the
state to expand its support to improve all levels of education.

The real Farmville


Perhaps you're familiar with
the Facebook sensation that's
sweeping the nation: Farm-
ville. For those of
you who aren't,
Farmville is like
"TheSims" video-
game, except it's
on Facebook. If the
number of people I
know who use it as
their primary pro-
crastination tool
is any indication, RACHEL
Farmville is awe- GLE
some. I don't play VAN GILDER
Farmville. And
here's why: I'm
actually from a farm. So for me, Farm-
ville is kind of like Keith Richards
playing "Rock Band."
My fellow college students seem to
think that harvesting virtual fields is
fantastic, but it's not exciting for me
because I've actually helped harvest
fields. There's no novelty. For me,
novelty is a city with more than one
stoplight. And though Ann Arbor isn't
a large city in the grand scheme of
things, to a girl from a town with only
one high school, Ann Arbor is practi-
cally Metropolis.
I hail from the great village of
Webberville, Michigan, not far out-
side of East Lansing. Population:
1,500 (give or take). My graduating
class numbered 51. I grew up on 80
acres of farmland that my father, an
engineer for General Motors, rents to
his cousin, a career farmer, to plant.
Usually, my father's cousin plants
corn or soy beans in our field. Very
rarely, he plants wheat, and then it's
like living inside a Pepperidge Farm
When I tell people here at the Uni-
versity that I grew up on a farm, I
get all sorts of questions. Among my
favorites are: "Do you have, like, cows

and chickens and stuff?" and "OMG!
Do people drive their tractors to
school?" I usually answer questions
like this patiently, with a slight sense
of annoyance. In case you're curious,
my family doesn't own cows or chick-
ens, but we do own horses, and my
mother raises pigs.
And Webbervillians only drive our
tractors to school once a year on Drive
Your Tractor to School Day, sponsored
annually by the Webberville Chapter
of the FFA, which is a leadership orga-
nization based in agriculture. (This is
not a joke. This actually exists.)
The grand total of Webberville
Community High School graduates
currently enrolled here at the Univer-
sity is four (Represent: Mike, Hannah
and Jeanne). And I'm sure they've had
some of the same experiences dealing
with you fancy city-folk that I have.
I've lived in Ann Arbor for three years
and learned to navigate the things that
made me uncomfortable at first. But
my initial transition to Ann Arbor's
metropolitan, artsy and very liberal
atmosphere was as jarring as putting
Julie Andrews in a KISS video.
My first introduction to the new
environment came on move-in day in
the fall of 2007 at Mary Markley Hall.
Or, more accurately, it came when I was
introduced to my roommate, who was
about as different from me as possible.
Caitlin was easily 5'7", as blonde as can
be and easily beautiful. She looked like
she belonged on "American's Next Top
Model." Caitlinwas from well-to-do St.
Clair Shores, Michigan, was a liberal
and was the most cosmopolitan person
I had ever met. She had pink and lime
green bedding, a whole bin full of high
heels, and she promptly rushed a soror-
ity. I was intimidated.
We passed most of the year in
silence. Don't get me wrong. She was
a friendly person, and we got along
quite well for two people who didn't

share any interests. We just didn't
have any common ground to start on,
and so conversations were hard. Not
having anything to say to someone -
especially someone with whom I lived
- was bizarre.
Just a small town
girl, livin' in a big
university world.


The program, called The W.K. Kellogg
Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan
Teaching Fellowship, is expected to be a
competitive program that will accept 240
students from the six participating univer-
sities in Michigan, according to an article
in the Daily on Friday. The fellowship took
shape after the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
awarded $16.7 million to the Woodrow
Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
last November. The program will allow
teachers to receive their master's degrees
in either science, technology, engineering
or mathematics, known as STEM fields.
At the completion of the program, the
new teachers will work for at least three
years in one of five of the state's struggling
school districts, including Detroit, Grand
Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Ben-
ton Harbor.
Programs like the teaching fellowship are
a chance for the state to support an educa-
tional system that will revitalize Michigan's
economy. The state's economy is shifting
toward a basis in developing technolo-
gies. But to make this change successful,
Michigan residents will need more edu-
cation opportunities to prepare them for
knowledge-based jobs. Since it is the goal of
Michigan to expand education in the STEM
fields, the fellowship's focus on these aca-
demic areas will improve the quality and
quantity of the type of teachers Michigan
needs. This will compound the benefits of
the new program as a new wave of well-
trained and engaged teachers will inspire
even more students to take up studies in
STEM fields.
The new teaching fellowship is an invest-
ment in education. It provides teachers to

districts which are most desperately in need
of resources. Often, struggling districts can't
obtain the resources they need to improve.
And each time a school fails to make "Ade-
quate Yearly Progress," as defined by the
Bush administration's No Child Left Behind
Act of 2001, it loses more government sup-
port and sinks deeper into the hole. But the
way to improve a school is to give it more
resources, not to punish failure with loss
of income. The fellowship offers a valuable
resource to struggling schools.
At the same time, early placement in
underfunded districts is a valuable learning
experience for teachers who may have never
experienced the more troubling aspects of
the public education system. And educa-
tion of teachers prepares them to tackle the
problems that education faces.
Sending aid to underprivileged school
districts will also help to narrow the
socioeconomic divisions in institutions of
higher education. When students in under-
privileged schools receive insufficient
educations, they are less likely to attend
institutions of higher learning. But col-
lege should be accessible to people from all
backgrounds. Efforts to give schools more
resources - like highly-educated teachers
from successful colleges like the University
- are the only way to help bridge the gaps
between wealthy districts and traditionally
under-performing districts.
Because it is an institution of higher
learning, it's the University's responsibility
to encourage all forms of education. This
fellowship is one way to do that. But the
state can - and should - go further by pro-
tecting education funding and expanding
programs that invest in education.

I also learned pretty quickly that
safety was going to be different from
that back home. I'd gotten the obliga-
tory spiel from the Department of Pub-
lic Safety at Orientation.and I wasn't
stupid. I knew that it was easier to stay
safe in Webberville, which doesn't
reallyhave crime except for afew cases
of superficial vandalism and speed-
ing, than on a campus with 40,000
students. My father took it to the next
level. He armed me with a safety flash-
light (available at Cabela's) and a guilt-
inducing reminder to always carry it
with me because he wanted me to "be
safe, honey, because I love you and I
don't want anything to happen to you."
And they saythat mothers are the mas-
ters of guilt-tripping.
I learned to deal, of course. And
while I still get annoyed by sirens
at night and the light pollution that
obscures the stars, I think I've bal-
anced my down-home desires with
some big-city sensibilities.
But I'm still not such a city-slicker
that I think that virtual orchards are
fun. So stop sending me Farmville
- Rachel Van Gilder is the Daily's
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at rachelvg@umich.edu.



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.
Beyond affirmative action


Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, William Butler,
Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith

Fleming set standard for 'U'

Robben W. Fleming served as the Univer-
sity's president from 1968 to 1979 and again
as interim president in 1988. He was widely
recognized as among the University's wis-
est and most successful presidents, admired
and respected by the University community,
including by those who disagreed with him.
He was a lawyer, an arbitrator and an expert
on labor-management relations. Fleming came
to Ann Arbor following his years as chancel-
lor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
During his time in Madison, he was famous for
bailing out students who had been arrested for
protesting the war. His training and personal-
ity served him well when he was forced to lead
the University through the turbulent times of
the Vietnam War and the peak of student oppo-
sition on campus.
In Ann Arbor, he constantly urged restraint,
reason and thoughtful listening by all sides.
When Washtenaw County Sheriff Doug Har-
vey was anxious to arrest and jail protestors,
Fleming interceded in a way that was both firm
and flexible. He later faced the Black Action
Movement strike of 1970, when groups led by
the Students for a Democratic Society called
for more minority admissions to the University.
The strike eventually resulted in a wide variety
of affirmative action programs in admissions
and increased minority composition on cam-
pus. Throughout this entire period, he avoided
the violent clashes that took place atnother uni-

versities. I believe that his patience, grace and
unpretentiousness elevated him to national
renown without ever turning his head.
His posture during these eruptions was
simple. He believed that it was important to
listen carefully and to make a sharp distinc-
tion between often inflated rhetoric and actu-
al demands. He once said that his experience
taught him not to be particularly disturbed by
what opponents might say to each other (or
to him!) but that consistency and calm could
defuse almost any inflammable situation.
I remember talking with him in 1988, when
I was serving as a regent. Sitting in his office
with his manual typewriter on his desk - he
preferred to write his own statements rather
than dictate them - he said: "The entire histo-
ry of human progress has always been accom-
panied by conflict. It's an ordinary part of
moving things along. You simply have to expect
it." Then he pushed his chair back, chuckled,
threw his hands in the air and said: "So, let's
have some conflict!"
He was a perfect leader for his time. And his
grace, humor and sensible behavior set a stan-
dard for all subsequent University presidents
to follow.
Phil Power was editorial director of The
Michigan Daily in 1960. He has published numerous
community newspapers in Michigan and served
as a egent of the University from 1987 to 1999.

There's no denying that diver-
sity benefits college campuses
and society as a whole. In his
book "The Differ--
ence," University
Prof Scott E. Page
shows that diversi-
ty results in a soci-
ety that is better
at problem solving
and is more pro-
ductive. A diverse
community allows
us to celebrate what TOMMASO
makes us uniqueP
while simultane- PAVONE
ously respecting
our differences.
A plethora of research also shows
that when minority students are
given the necessary tools, they per-
form as well, if not better, than their
white counterparts. In a recent book
titled "The Shape of the River," Wil-
liam Bowen and Derek Bok found that
African-American college graduates
achieve above average civil participa-
tion rates and marriage rates. It follows
that performance isn't a derivative of
identity but rather a product of oppor-
tunity. So why do I find the affirmative
action concept problematic?
Hint: It's not because I am a conser-
vative (I am not).
Many make the mistake of equating
affirmative action with diversity and
conclude that to be against affirmative
action means being against diversity.
But affirmative action is only a means
of achieving the goal of diversity, and
- as is often the case in the policymak-
ing process - it is our dependence on
this method, not its goal, that I contest.
In essence, while affirmative action
may be necessary in the short run, we
should seek to make it unnecessary in
the longrun.
Consider some common - and often
factually fallacious - criticisms of
affirmative action. We have all heard
the argument that affirmative action
constitutes reverse discrimination.
Critics who argue this reduce affir-
mative action to a system of quotas,
which allows minority candidates to

enter into programs at the expense of
their white counterparts. On the flip
side, some, including Supreme Court
Justice Clarence Thomas, have argued
that affirmative action causes minority
students to develop inferiority com-
plexes. While one can question the
validity of these arguments, as I often
do, the result is undeniable - affirma-
tive action remains a divisive and con-
tentious topic.
And, as University students, we find
ourselves at the heart of the storm.
Repeatedly, liberals have had to defend
affirmative action policies. Surely
there's a better long-term means to
promote diversity on college campuses
without facing continuous charges of
sponsoringreverse discrimination.
An alternative solution exists. But
it's not simple, nor is it cheap. It entails
tackling the root problem which affir-
mative action seeks to remedy: the fact
that minority students are often dis-
advantaged compared to their white
counterparts. According to the Kai-
ser Family Foundation's State Health
Facts, approximately one-third of all
African Americans live below the pov-
erty line, compared to only approxi-
mately 12 percent of whites. The
imprisonment rate among young Afri-
can-Americans who drop out of high
school is almost 23 percent, according
to a new report released by a national
coalition sponsored by the Alternative
Schools Network. In short, minority
students find themselves coping with
no after-school programs, rampant
crime, overpopulated schools lacking
in supplies and unstable family nucle-
uses. It's not easy to prioritize getting
into college in such an environment.
Sadly, many policymakers try to
reap support in minority commu-
nities by flashing their affirmative
action credentials. Thereafter, they
never make the effort to solve the
problems necessitating affirmative
action programs in the first place.
This amounts to indirectly support-
ing systematic inequality.
We should stop turning a blind eye
to the racially driven inequality that
exists throughout the United States,

only then to attempt to remedy the
situation through the college admis-
sions process. If we wish to promote
diversity on college campuses the
right way, we should actively support
anti-crime policies in troubled neigh-
borhoods, restructuring inner-city
schools and expanding after-school
and recreational programs. This would
allow minority students to compete4
on a leveled academic playing field,
and affirmative action would become
increasingly obsolete.
The solution to
racial' inequality is 1
inner-city reform.
Such reforms won't be easy. They
require time, solidarity and, even
worse, some charity on the part of
those fortunate enough to reside in
privileged communities. But to suc-
ceed in these policies would mean
providing minority students with the
necessary tools to compete with their
white counterparts. Diversity within
college campuses is sure to result.
What's more, nobody will be able to
accuse liberals of promoting reverse
I don't seek to provide a mind-
blowing solution to systematic racial
inequality. Instead, I wish to high-
light it as the primary problem and
propose a more constructive way
of framing the affirmative action
debate. Noting affirmative action's
problems and recognizing that racial
inequality won't be erased overnight,
we should consider affirmative action
anecessary - buttemporary - means
of ensuring diversity.r t
I, for one, await the day when we
can achieve diversity on campus
without having to tinker with college
- Tommaso Pavone can be
reached at tpavone@umich.edu.

The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed
writers to be columnists this semester. Columnists write 750 words on a
topic of their choice every other week.

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