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October 05, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-10-05

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4 - Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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




Today Robert Edwards' vision is a reality
and brings joy to infertile people all over the world:'
- A quote from the Nobel Committee, after the 2010 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Robert
Edwards for the development of in vitro fertilization, as reported by Time Magazine on Monday.
Teaching accountability

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.
A budget lesson
State cuts of education funding should be stopped
Last week, Michigan's public universities received an unfor-
tunate budgetary blow. The state's new budget, which was
passed Sept. 27, will slash funding for higher education. By
initial estimates, the cuts translate to a $9-million decrease in fund-
ing for the University. Enough cannot be said about the importance
of education. Primarily, the state's economywill increasingly depend
on jobs that require degrees from institutions of higher education.
And yet, Lansing continues to siphon funds away from education -
for primary, secondary and higher education. The state government
needs to reexamine its principles, stop the cut in funding and begin
to invest in the future leaders of the state.

Accountability is important in
our society. When you do a
job, you need to be prepared
to stand behind
it and defend the
results. From doc-
tors to lawyers
and engineers to ;
social workers, our
nation's profes-
sionals are held
accountable for
the jobs they do,
and face repercus- TYLER
sions if they fail to JONES
meet the mark. It's
this system that
ensures each indi-
vidual performs to a certain standard.
What, then, are we to make of
America's education system? It seems
that, though we are willing to hold
our doctors and lawyers account-
able, we have let our nation's educa-
tors slip by unnoticed. Children are
our nation's most precious resource.
The ability of the next generation to
compete with the best and brightest
throughout the world is of the utmost
importance. However, as school sys-
tems across the nation are increas-
ingly placed under the microscope,
it would appear that those charged
with preparing our youth are receiv-
ing a failing grade.
According to the new controversial
documentary on America's schools,
"Waiting for Superman," America
ranks 25th in math and 21st in science
of 30 developed nations. The top five
percent of American students rank
23rd out of 29 developed nations.
Since the 1970s, our nation has fall-
en behind in education. Before this
problem can be addressed, we must
determine where our education sys-
tem is lacking.
Let's use our University as an
example. At the end of each semes-
ter, students are sent a class evalua-
tion. As part of those evaluations, we
can rate the quality of the professor,
GSI and the class as a whole. From

these evaluations, faculty and admin-
istrators assess the effectiveness of
teachers, GSIs and overall classroom
instruction. This idea is not unique
to the University - colleges across
the nation have been using student
evaluations to assess the quality of
education since the 1920s. Yet, there
is disconnect between the effective
practices in higher education and
what occurs inAmerica's K-12 system.
I never filled out a class evaluation
in high school, and I certainly never
encountered a teacher evaluation.
This isn't to say that teacher evalu-
ations haven't been proposed and
supported. On the contrary, school
districts in New Jersey and Illi-
nois are putting increased support
behind teacher evaluations, much to
the chagrin of teachers' unions. Just
watching recent media coverage of
this uniquely American problem, it
becomes clear why teachers' unions
are so adamantly opposed to evalua-
tions: they would be held personally
accountable for the jobs they do in
the classrooms.
As members of the Statewide
Action & Grassroots Education Cam-
paign in Illinois lobby for paren-
tal access to teacher evaluations,
educators are fighting back harder
than ever. In response to the recent
uproar, an education expert preached
to Catalyst Chicago, an Illinois-based
publication focusing on education
matters, that making such informa-
tion public domain would "unfairly
hurt the reputation of some teach-
ers and potentially cause attempts to
crowd children into the classrooms
of other teachers." But it seems to me
that teachers who consistently fail
to educate children to a minimum
standard relinquish their right to an
untarnished reputation.
In addition to evaluations, K-12
teacher tenure must be abolished.
There is no single program as det-
rimental to the education system
as the one that protects inadequate
teachers simply because they've been

in the building for a few years. Ten-
ure makes it difficult to terminate a
teacher and protects ineffective edu-
cators from being held accountable
for their poor performance. Accord-
ing to the Hoover Institution, a con-
servative public policy think tank, a
Los Angeles union representative is
quoted as saying, "it's impossible to
get them out. It's impossible. Unless
they commit a lewd act." Tenure
must be eliminated in order for a real
assessment of educators to be pos-
sible. There must be a real threat of
termination for teachers who do not
perform in the classroom.
, High school
teachers need
better evaluations.
AlbertShanker,one-time president
of the United Federation of Teachers,
once said, "When school children
start paying union dues, that's when
I'll start representing the interests of
school children." It seems Shanker
didn't understand the purpose of
America's education system. Schools
are not public works programs, nor
do they exist for the advancement of
a union agenda. Schools exist to serve
America's youth.
But with no programs to assess
the effectiveness of a teacher and no
means of recourse if an educator is
deemed ineffective, teachers unions
have America's schools in a stran-
glehold. Until teachers can be held
accountable for the jobs they do, like
every other professional, and put the
interests of children ahead of petty
union agendas, our nation's youth
will pay the price.
- TylerlJones can be reached
at tylerlij@umich.edu.


The Daily reported last week that the
new budget will cut funding for all higher
education programs by 2.8 percent in the
upcoming year. The goal of the cut is to bal-
ance the state budget, which is currently
running a $484 million deficit. This is a
drop in almost $500 million from last year
for all public universities and a $9 million
loss for the University. University officials
anticipated such a cut and the University's
budget, which was passed back in June,
reflects this prediction. The state budget
also includes an increased amount of schol-
arship money available for students.
The cut in state funding shows that the
state legislature isn't properly prioritizing
higher education in Michigan. The deci-
sion to continue to decrease higher educa-
tion funding, which already represents less
than five percent of the total state budget,
is a poor decision on the part of the legis-
lature. Higher education is one of the most
valuable public resources the state can pro-
vide and it's crucial that these institutions
receive adequate state funding.
The state's economic crisis has shown
that Michigan can't continue to rely on
manufacturing jobs to recover from the
downturn. Education and research will
help create new jobs in the state - and cuts
show that the legislature doesn't under-
stand the significance of education. The

state government should reevaluate what
is important for Michigan's future and allo-
cate taxpayers' money appropriately. The
current and future job market makes a col-
lege degree essential, which is why Michi-
gan's public universities are so important.
The state has an obligation to support the
institutions that will give the next genera-
tion of Michigan workers an advantage.
While the legislators continue to take
money from education, it's important to
point out how the state uses other resourc-
es. According to the 2008 Annual Report
from the Department of Corrections, the
state spent over $2 billion on corrections
costs in that year - and corrections spend-
ing has steadily grown since 1998. And
Michigan is one of only four states that
spend more on corrections than higher edu-
cation in 2008. A more responsible choice
would be to allocate funds away from cor-
rections toward education. The state needs
to be sure that all funding to corrections are
vital and reevaluate their spending so that
higher education doesn't suffer.
Undoubtedly, somethingneeds to be done
to balance Michigan's budget. But taking
much-needed funding from higher educa-
tion isn't the answer. The state legislature
should recognize how important education
is to the future of our state and do every-
thing possible to financially support it.

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be fewer than 300 words
and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. All submissions become property of
the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.


A tolerant campus community

Mental health and 'U'

The University has long held diversity as
one its fundamental values. It prides itself on
actualizing this concept as part of the student
experience. This reputation attracts a variety of
individuals who contribute to the colorful mosa-
ic we have at the University. Students expect
a community that is accepting of all people,
regardless of "race, color, national origin, age,
marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender
identity, gender expression, disability, religion,
height, weight, or veteran status," as stated in the
University's non-discrimination policy.
In light of recent events surrounding Michi-
gan Student Assembly President Chris Arm-
strong, we as student leaders, would like to
reaffirm our commitment to an inclusive and tol-
erant campus environment. Discriminatory and
prejudiced acts of any kind are not acceptable at
the University. Our university serves as a model
to other institutions around the world due to our
inclusive attitude and growth towards inter-cul-
tural maturity. We, as a student body, have and
will continue to stand together and uphold this
valuedsense of community.
Such an inclusive environment is seldom
found in society. Thus, we must take full
advantage of and protect the opportunities
that come with this acceptance: stand strong
to your unique identity, have pride in your
individuality and accomplishments and carry-
on in your passions with a steadfast determi-

nation. It's only when we all express our true
selves that we can reap the full benefits of a
diverse campus.
As Wolverines, we must take continual
action to preserve and defend all that is special
about our university. We ask that you join us
as we stand up and commit to continue making
the University an environment that promotes
congruency, acceptance and paths towards
Steven Benson is the LSA Student Government
president, Charles Bogren is the University of
Michigan College Republicans chair. Brendan
Campbell is the College Democrats at the
University of Michigan chair. Eric Elgin is the Dance
Marathon at the University of Michigan executive
director. Mike Friedman is the Interfraternity
Council President. Ryan Garber is the Hillel chair.
Carly Goldberg is the LSA Student Government
vice president. Richard Kallus is the American
Movement for Israel chair. Natalie Kittikul is the
Circle K president. Ankit Mehta is the MPowered
Entrepreneurship president. Myles Morgan is
the National Pan-Hellenic Council president.
Stephanie Parrish is the ONE Campaign founder.
Neal Patel is the South Asian Awareness
Network chair. Sanjiv Rao is the Multicultural
Greek Council president. Katie Rosenberg is the
Panhellenic Association president. Alex Wood is
the Student-Athlete Advisory Council president.

Ks University students, we're
all used to deadlines, projects,
idterms and finals. We've
seen what the
UGLi looks like at
three in the morn-
ing, we understand
that coffee is truly
the liquid of life
and we know that
practice exams
are essentially
pointless because
the real ones are JOE
always harder. SUGIYAMA
Simply put, we
have a lot on our
Though many students feel as
though they are alone in their plight,
according to the annual National Col-
lege Health Assessment - conducted
by the American College Health Asso-
ciation - about 86 percent of students
also feel overwhelmed bythe pressures
of college life.
Admittedly, feeling overwhelmed
comes with the territory when you
go to a competitive university, but the
study revealed that students often
feel stress from more than just a large
course load. Prepare yourself for an
onslaught of statistics - nearly 46
percent of students said they felt that
things were hopeless at one time or
another, 58 percent felt lonely, 31 per-
cent felt depressed to a point where it
was difficult to function, 49 percent
experienced extreme anxiety, and 6
percent seriously contemplated sui-
cide. I was shocked by these numbers,
especially the one concerning suicide.
Here at the University, there are about
26,000 undergraduate students. The
National College Health Assessment

statistics implies that about 1,560 stu- ety over the pressures of school and
dents at one point considered suicide it's these students who need to under-
during the past 12 months. stand the struggles of their classmates
These numbers are taken from a and lend a helping hand.
sample population and therefore don't
necessarily represent the distribution
of students at the University who suf-
fer from various mental health illness- 86 percent of
es. However, this study has been used
for the past 10 years as a measuring students feel
stick for the health of America's col-
lege students and the results are trou- overwhelmed.
bling. With such a large population of
students suffering, one can't help but
wonder what brings on these serious
mental health issues. Some have proposed that it's each
In my experience, there is noth- university's responsibility to offer
ing worse than having to cram for classes about how to study and handle
midterms or finals. For some classes, the workload presented by college in
there aren't enough hours in the day order to help students minimize feel-
to prepare for the inevitable two hours ings of stress and depression. This is
of hell that each exam entails. Before a nice thought, but offering a class
I read this report, I never thought about how to study doesn't necessarily
of my pre-test anxiety as something translate into Gaussian plume models
that could pose a serious threat to my or an insightful essay commenting on
mental well-being. And although I've how Hemingway's alcohol abuse is
never felt depressed to a point where evident in his writings.
"it affected my ability to function, I It's each student's responsibility to
can certainly see how a string of bad managehisor herown academiccareer,
grades and never ending assignments but it's also each student's responsibil-
can pose a serious problem. ity to be there for his or her friends
Professors, GSIs and the Univer- and classmates. Who can understand
sity as a whole don't intend to cause the pressures of school better than
students stress, but it seems to be students themselves? A sense of com-
an unavoidable result of getting an munityneeds tobe thereforthosewho
undergraduate or graduate degree. are struggling in their day-to-day lives,
With that in mind, students have an so thatthey have someone to turn to in
obligation to look out for their friends their times ofneed.We often pride our-
and classmates. If you notice a friend * selves as being a part of the Michigan
acting off or unusually anxious or Difference, but one of the biggest dif-
depressed, please do something. ferences we can make is for the health
Whether that's just listening to them and safety of our friends and peers.
vent or helping them get help, you
could truly be saving someone's life. - Joe Sugiyama can be reached
Some students don't suffer from anxi- at jmsugi@umich.edu.




Aida Ali, Jordan Birnholtz, Adrianna Bojrab, Will Butler, Eaghan Davis, Michelle DeWitt,
Ashley Griesshammer, Will Grundler, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
farsha Panduranga, Tommaso Pavone, Leah Potkin, Asa Smith, Laura Veith

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