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February 14, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-02-14

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4A - Monday; February 14, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Monday, February 14, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

01

aloe Michigan 3at*lv

DANIEL GOLD

E-MAIL DANIELAT DWGOLD@UMICH.EDU

I

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

The US invading
Iraq, one trillion
In war spending, and S. p-v
over three thousand
dead American Facebook.
troops -What did it
take to pry you from
power?1
! }I N jMRAK

STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

KYLE SWANSON
MANAGING EDITOR

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.
S-marter standards
Michigan needs to raise "cut-scores" for tests
n recent years, standardized test scores for students in Michi-
gan - including scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment
Program and Michigan Merit Exam - have fallen. Last Tuesday,
the state's Board of Education approved a proposal to raise the per-
centage of questions students must answer correctly in order to pass
these exams. Increasing the amount of points required to pass will
encourage schools to make sure they are educating their students to
the highest standards. Elevating proficiency standards will better
prepare Michigan students for success, and the board should contin-
ue to improve the state's education system.

America's man in Cairo

According to a Feb. 9 Freep.com article,
raising the "cut scores" will better prepare
students for their future. The cut scores are
the lowest scores a student can get to dem-
onstrate basic knowledge in a given subject.
A 24/7 Wall St. article reported that the cut
scores are lagging in most states - especially
Michigan - where eighth graders have scored
significantly lower on reading and math por-
tions of the tests in recent years.
The plan to raise cut scores is an impor-
tant decision that recognizes the changes that
need to be made in Michigan public schools.
The current standards aren't doing enough to
ensure that educators are adequately prepar-
ing students for their futures. The proposal
reaffirms Michigan's commitment to educat-
ing its students to the highest standards and
helping them to compete nationally and inter-
nationally.
one of the biggest concerns with Michi-
gan's current testing system isthe gap between
scores on state tests and scores on national
tests. Accordingto Amber Arellano, the execu-
tive director of the Midwest office of the Edu-
cation Trust, while 84 percent of Michigan
fourthgraders are passing state reading exams,
only 30 percent are meeting standards on the
National Assessment of Educational Prog-
ress, a federal exam. The disparity between

these two exams is drastic. If Michigan wants
its students to succeed, legislators must stop
sugarcoating the academic rigor required for
students to achieve proficiency.
By raising the cut scores on standardized
exams, the Board of Education can give stu-
dents, parents and educators the opportunity
to see where students actually place on the pro-
ficiency scale and what areas need improve-
ment. While opponents of this plan argue
that significant drops in students' test scores
may worry parents, it's important that scores
actually reflect students' knowledge. Without
recognizing the flaws in the state's education
system, Michigan students may never be ade-
quately prepared for higher education in com-
parisonto national standards. Students need to
be challenged to succeed, and this plan - likely
to be implemented in the 2011-2012 school year
- gives Michigan schools the opportunity to
properly test students.
Michigan should move forward with this
plan and continue its commitment to students.
and education. Without high testing stan-
dards, studentswill not be prepared for higher
education, and they will not achieve greater
professional success. If educators want to stop
the cycle and keep Michigan "smart," the
state should continue to renovate the educa-
tion system.

n 1946, a junior U. S. State
Department diplomat named
George Kennan wrote a 5,500-
word essay about
the evolution
of communist
thought in Rus-
sia from the mid-
19th Century to
the (then) pres-
ent. The essay,
"The Sources
of Soviet Stra- NEILL
tegic Conduct," MOHAMMAD
was remarkable
for two reasons.
First, it was correct about almost all
aspects of Soviet politics, including
the often misunderstood connection
between the Soviet system and the
Tsarist feudalism it replaced. The
second was that after it was pub-
lished, a year later under a pseud-
onym in Foreign Affairs magazine, it
became the cornerstone of the next
60 years of American foreign policy.
Kennan's insight - that the Soviet
system was inherently unsustain-
able because it required leaders to
invent an endless series of threats in
order to justify a totalitarian police
state - was the basis of "contain-
ment," or the idea that the Western
powers should seal communism
behind its current borders and let
the march of time do the rest. In the
long term, this worked; the USSR
collapsed, and did so for largely the
set of reasons that Kennan had iden-
tified. Containment of communism,
however, required a separate and
darker "containment" of its own: the
elimination of any and all domestic
political oppositionwithin Amer-
ica's anti-communist allies. And
just like Soviet leadership had to
invent horror stories about capitalist
encirclement to legitimize their rule,
American clients invented similar
claims about the chaos and barba-
rism that would ensue if they were
ever forced from power.
Containment meant at best the

tolerance and at worst the outright
endorsement of some of the world's
worst crimes. America's man in
Santiago, Augusto Pinochet, "dis-
appeared" political dissidents by
packing them into cargo planes
and dumping them over the Pacific
Ocean. America's men in Johannes-
burg, the National Party, did their
best to suppress "instability" - bet-
ter-known as Nelson Mandela, who
was finally imprisoned at Robben
Island for 26 years thanks to a tip
passed along by the CIA - in their
own country. America's men (and
one woman) in Islamabad have
been a grim succession of military
juntas or kleptocrats, each increas-
ingly indistinguishable from the
last. The current president of Paki-
stan, Asif Ali Zardari, is so corrupt
that he's widely known as "Mr. Ten
Percent", referencing the kickbacks
he allegedly received. And when
he's out of the way, he'll do his best
to pass power to his son. Contain-
ment didn't just delay democrati-
zation in many parts of the world,
but actually encouraged monarchy
instead.
This brings us to Egypt. Con-
tainment - having contorted itself
to address transnational terrorism
rather than international commu-
nism - required that Obama, Sec-
retary of State Hillary Clinton and
every other American official in the
public eye, line up immediately in
support of our man in Cairo, Former
Egypt president Hosni Mubarak.
When that didn't work, the admin-
istration pivoted to the next best
option, Omar Suleiman. Suleiman,
74, was the head; of Egypt's spy
agency, and in that capacity he was
an important supporter of America's
"extraordinary rendition" program.
He has overseen countless tortures,
including that of an al-Qaeda opera-
tive who gave a false confession
about links between Saddam Hus-
sein and Osama bin Laden. As you
might expect of someone who has

been in government nearly as long as
Mubarak himself, Suleiman is uni-
versally reviled by the public he is
meant to lead.
But containment - particularly
in the Middle East - has never been
challengedbyagrass-roots, non-vio-
lent uprising of the sheer scale that
we've now seen in Egypt and Tuni-
sia. Spurred on by cheap technology,
which helped protesters not only
organize themselves but also to see
how their own story was being told
by international media, the writing
may be on the wall for the future of
containment.
Egypt exposes
uncertain future
of containment. 9
Repressive governments need
to be able to lie to their own people
about the wider world in order to
keep them pliant and cooperative. *
The democracies that work hand-in-
glove with such regimes need to be
able to believe their own lies about
the danger of seeing the world inany
other way. Neither of these are ten-
able when everyone with an Inter-
net connection can get an intimate,
unblinking picture of the revolu-
tion as it plays out: Organized, non-
violent, serious about democratic
change and unwilling to take no for
an answer.
Suleiman conceded on Friday
when he told Egyptians to turn off
their satellite televisions because
they were enemies of the state. Too
little, too late: Egyptians don't seem
to have any use for our new man in
Cairo. Neither should we.
-Neill Mohammad can be
reached at neilla@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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. We do
not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@michigandaily.com

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Will Butler, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer,
Melanie Kruvelis, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Teddy Papes, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
EMILY BASHAM AND ALEX BILES1
Acknowledge the War on Drugs

*I

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@MICHIGANDAILY.COM

Some University students
depend on Bridge Cards

this program. Being a student is difficult both
academically and financially, and some of us
truly need our Bridge Cards. I sincerely hope
that legislators will not choose to take this
help away from me and my fellow students.

TO THE DAILY:
While I'm sure there are students tak- Nora Stone
ing fraudulent advantage of the Bridge Card LSA junior
program, I hope the state Legislature and
The Michigan Daily (A whole in the 'Bridge',
02/09/2011) keep in mind that there is a sig- -e
nificant number of students with a legitimate The University can easily
need for this assistance. deter fire alarm
I am one of those students. My parents pay
neither my rent, nor any of my other bills, and
contribute only minimally to my tuition. I TO THE DAILY:
don't ask for more because I know they can't Aida Ali is absolutely right in declaring,
afford it. Without my Bridge Card, I'd be tak- "University Housing officials have to find a
ing out additional loans just to pay for food way to solve this problem," in her viewpoint
and lodging, and I don't believe I should have (Alarming frequency, 2/11/2011). Fortunate-
go into debt to feed myself. Or I'd be eating ly there is a quick, easy and cheap solution.
Ramen five days a week. While that makes for Decades ago the New York City subway sys-
a good joke about college life, it does nothing tem was plagued with people repeatedly pull-
to improve my physical and mental health, ing the emergency break in each car, which at
and thereby my contribution to the University the time wassjust a wire with a handle. To rem-
community. edy the problem, each emergency break was
Ifthe state needs to save money on the Bridge individually placed so that everyone in the car
Card program, what about restricting what would see and react to the perpetrator. As a
benefit recipients are allowedto buy? New York direct result the problem is now non-existent.
City is considering banning soda purchases The Residence Hall Association should set a
with food assistance money. A similar measure timer on each individual alarm box in Univer-
in Michigan could save money and improve the sity Housing, perhaps on a five second delay so
health of our residents (we are ranked 10th in that in order to pull the alarm one would have
the nation in adult obesity), while also prevent- to physically stand next to it for five seconds
ing people from abusing the system by buying as a localized, shrieking alarm goes off. There
soda solely to return the bottles for cash. would be no consequence in a real fire - after
I believe the simplicity of the Department of all, it's just five seconds. But it would serve as
Human Services application is an advantage. a forceful deterrent to any would-be alarm
It should be easy for people who need help to puller who would be terrified of not just being
obtain help. I agree that changing the defini- caught (and potentially fined or imprisoned)
tion of "who needs help," or adding another by Housing staff but also by hoards of angry
round of checks to the application process may students enraged aboutgoing into the cold, for
be necessary to prevent waste and abuse, but the third time that night for a false alarm.
please, let's keep in mind that not all students
here at the University fit into the upper mid- David Seidman
dle-class bracket, and not all of us are abusing LSA freshman

Many people will spend today exchanging roses,
chocolates, Hallmark cards and their fair share of saliva,
as is tradition in our country. Others take a more apa-
thetic approach toward the holiday, while a small minor-
ity will wallow in heartbreak, consumed in a state of
proverbial obsolescence.
For the citizens of Ciudad Juarez and other cities in
Mexico that have been ravaged by drug-related violence,
this notion of heartbreak hits much closer to home.
According to Mexican officials, 34,612 people have died
in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe
Calderon declared a war against drug cartels in 2007.
And in 2010 alone, these killings reached their highest
level, with a total of 15,273 deaths. To put this in per-
spective, the Iraqi occupation caused 4,436 American
troop casualties since 2003.
The recent surge in violence has undoubtedly been a
byproduct of United States and Mexican drug laws, par-
ticularly the militaristic approach that has character-
ized enforcement of the latter. With drug prohibition, a
black market is created in which individuals are unable_
to settle conflicts through the legal system. Thus, drug
cartels resort to violence to settle disputes.
Mainstream news coverage and attention given to
this atrocity by our federal government has been negli-
gible. Between the two of them, President Barack Obama
and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) produced thousands of
sound bites during the heated 2008 presidential elec-
tion. Yet, they seldom mentioned the rampant violence
that has overtaken the U.S.-Mexico border, let alone
addressed the issue in detail. Rather than come to a stop,
the violence associated with the Mexican Drug War has

increased at an alarming rate.
Not only has the Mexican War on Drugs placed the
security of our southern neighbor in jeopardy, violence
associated with the illicit drug trade has spilled over
into the U.S., especially around border cities. ABC News
reported that Phoenix, Ariz. has become the new kid-
napping capital of the United States.
In response to the egregious absence of news cov-
erage by mainstream outlets regarding the increasing
violence that is consuming Mexico, a coalition of Uni-
versity student groups has convened to enhance aware-
ness about the atrocity taking place south of our border.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the University's
chapter of College Libertarians, Latin@ Social Work
Coalition, the University's chapter of the American
Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Through Educa-
tion and Students Organizing for Labor & Economic
Equality have named Feb. 14 as a day of awareness
about the Mexican Drug War.
A daylong campaign will take place to reach out
to the campus community, including distribution of
informational flyers and an artistic exhibition of drug-
related violence. These efforts will culminate at 6 p.m.
at Rackham Amphitheatre, with three renowned speak-
ers providing their insight on the drug-related violence
in Mexico and offering solutions to this underreported
tragedy. This event is free, and the campus community
is encouraged to attend.
Emily Basham is the executive director of
Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Alex Biles is
the vice president of the College Libertarians.

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