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January 18, 2011 - Image 4

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4A - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com

4A - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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the University of Michigan since 1890.
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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 jolt from the Volt
The auto industry needs to replicate GM's model
After a concerning decline during the recession, Gen-
eral Motors is making a comeback. Earlier this month,
GM's recently released signature car, the Chevrolet Volt,
received Motor Trend Magazine's prestigious 2011 Car of the
Year award. The Volt's success marks the emergence of a new
generation of electric cars and will hopefully be a turning point
for GM. The invention could also help to boost Michigan's econ-
omy and the American auto industry as a whole. The American
auto industry should capitalize on GM's success and continue to
produce environmentally friendly cars.

Where's the finish line?

The Volt triumphed over 20 finalists, fin-
ishing in front of 10 Asian cars, six Euro-
pean cars and four other American cars for
the Car of the Year award. The criteria for
selection included advancement in design,
engineering excellence, efficiency, safety,
value and intended function. GM's prod-
uct is different from ordinary hybrid cars
because it runs solely on electricity when-
ever possible - with an electrical range of
50 miles per charge. Motor Trend Maga-
zine called the car a "game changer."
The win is important to the state and
the country as it signifies the resurgence of
the American auto industry. Most impor-
tantly for Michigan, this means more jobs
in a state that has one of the highest unem-
ployment rates in the country. But it also
means that many of these jobs will con-
tribute to sustainability and the develop-
ment of green technologies. In November,
GM announced that it would create 1,000
new engineering and development jobs in
Michigan as a part of its vehicle electrifica-
tion program. As GM continues to expand
and advance its production,- these job
opportunities are sure to increase.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his
colleagues in Lansing and on Capitol Hill
should take note of GM's success. The
future of Michigan's economy depends on

innovative and green technologies rather
than gas-guzzling SUVs. In the past, inter-
national companies greatly outweighed
GM in advanced and efficient technologies,
but the Volt's emergence gives the Ameri-
can auto industry its first opportunity in a
while to lead the pact in smarter and more
fuel-efficient cars. On the national stage,
greater fuel efficiency also means a small-
er carbon footprint for the country and a
lower dependence on foreign oil.
The Volt reduces the environmental
impact of cars and provides an alternative
to the current market of hybrid cars. It was
named the 2011 Green Car of the Year by the
Green Car Journal and was the first electric
car to have won this award. In addition to
reducing carbon dioxide emissions, GM
recycles material by-products to make the
Volt a particularly practical and eco-friend-
ly car. With environmental threats like pol-
lution and global warming becoming more
serious, electric cars like the Volt will help
to alleviate these problems.
GM has created a product that will
boost the economy of the state and coun-
try as well as contribute to preserving the
environment. The Volt should become the
industry standard and auto companies
should work toward developing entirely
gas independent electric cars.

4 Waitingfor Superman" - a recent
documentary evaluating thestate
of public education - praised
charter schools'
efforts to hold stu-
dents accountable
through a strong
emphasis on test-
taking. Meanwhile, a
"Race to Nowhere"
- a film screened
at the University's
School of Educa-
tion last month -E
proclaims that the ERIK
overemphasis on TORENBERG
test taking over-
looks the skills stu-
dents really need to
be successful.
This paradox raises the question:
Should schools maintain such a test-
centered approach, or should they
work to develop alternatives for mea-
suring student success? Teaching to
the test risks that students will cling
to structure, burn out and adopt a
resume-centered existence. A more
holistic approach would be to focus
on developing creativity and criti-
cal analysis. Teachers could devalue
grades and encourage students to
think highly of themselves regardless
of performance.
Such an answer to the proposed
question is contingent on schools'
goals. If a school's ultimate goal is to
get its students into a top college and a
subsequent high-paying job, then yes,
a focus on test-taking and test prepa-
ration is conducive to such a goal. But
not all students will go to a top college.
And for those who don't, a fairly large
percentage will work jobs requiring
just a high school degree. "Waiting for
Superman" lauds college as the ulti-
mate goal of public education. Criti-
cism swarms that mindset not only
because of its narrow-mindedness
regarding personal development, but
also because, for some students, college
isn't necessarily a wise investment.
Assume schools decide to eschew

such a careerist approach, and instead
champion values such as compassion,
intellect and independent thinking. It
would become apparent that standard-
ized tests don't sufficiently measure
these abilities. If schools want to alter
the skills of their students, schoolswill
have to alter how they measure their
But if schools lighten up, students
might too, and not necessarily in the
ways schools would like. "Race to
Nowhere" doesn't concede that stu-
dents might engage in unproductive
activities with their extra time. But
it's not self-evident that kids will start
their own businesses, read more and
engage in community service if they
spent less time worrying about earn-
ing top GPAs. It might even be pre-
sumptuous to assume that a school's
view toward tests can affect student
behavior. It's likelythat Lady Gaga and
LeBron James-like figures playa large
part in forming students' identities.
The same can't immediately be said for
a school's method of evaluation.
As this analysis has demonstrated,
questions initially proposed unravel
separate, more profound questions
upon inspection. What is the best
method to measure student success?
That would depend on how schools
define student success. What is the
best method to hold teachers account-
able? That hinges on what attributes
schools value in their teachers.
Taking a stab at these questions is
far beyond the scope of this article, so
let's first focus on what's clear. What's
apparent about the education system
is that everyone has problems with
it. Math scores of American students
have been steadily falling relative
to students in other countries. Vast
inequalities exist between schools
located just minutes of each other.
Those invested in the debate are
eager to answer the big questions.
Education Policy Adviser Ken Robin-
son excitededucationenthusiasts with
a couple of TED - a conference that
brings together people from the Tech-

nology, Entertainment and Design
industries - talks. He highlighted the
importance of replacing conventional,
linear models with more holistic ones
that unearth creative potential. But
his follow up books haven't answered
the "how-to," and people are still
awaiting the all-encompassing narra-
tive - in book or documentary form
- that promises to reconcile the insti-
tutional, economic and cultural prob-
lems that plague our education system
Students can't
wait for
We're not going to receive a magic
formula for fixing schools because
we don't fully agree on the para-
digms underlying the problems. This
ideological stalemate will continue
to subsist, but that doesn't mean stu-
dents should complacently sit around
the proverbial dinner table while the
"adults" talk about how to "fix" the
education system. As these docu-
mentaries demonstrate, anyone can
be portrayed as a victim. It's easy to
notice the inherent complexity sur-
rounding educational policy and
refuse to proclaim any responsibility
or agency, but such complacency is
self-defeating. It's imperative that we
- high school and University students
alike - analyze the "race to nowhere"
the documentary suggests we're par-
ticipating in and define for ourselves
what we want to gain from our educa-
tional opportunities. If we don't, we'll
continue waiting for some superman
to decide that for us.
-Erik Torenberg can be
reached at erikto@umich.edu.

Aida Ali, Will Butler, Eaghan Davis, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Teddy Papes, Roger Sauerhaft, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
Food for thought

-i he

The Complete Spectrum: Chris Dyer advocates for LGBTQ
inclusiveness in Catholic education.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium

Don't be quick to connect the dots

For years, food in one way or another has
ruled my life. I'm known among friends and
family for my insatiable appetite, and even
many of my early memories in life are associated
with what I ate rather than where I was or who
I was with. I can still clearly remember the first
time I had a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut:
in the airport after arriving in Orlando for the
first time. And therein lies my problem. I grew
up craving and always asking for fast food - the
delicious salt and fat were irresistible to me. But
after reading Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's
Dilemma," I feel that I've taken many steps in
the right direction to having a healthier, more
complete relationship with food.
Ever since I enrolled in Environment 201 last
year, and I learned about the problems of indus-
trial food - of which I view fast food as the
pinnacle - I've started to think about the way
I eat and the consequences it has. I've always
known that eating McDonald's and Wendy's
isn't the healthiest, but I was a fit athlete. What
do I care if I eat an extra 750 calories or 200mg
of salt a day? But after learning about the envi-
ronmental problems caused by the increasing
industrialization of food, I've started to eat
much healthier. I'd say that my diet change has
been years in the making. I won't be young and
fit forever, and neither, for that matter, will the
What I found interesting about "The Omni-
vore's Dilemma" was the detailed outline
offered on the ways humans can get their
food. The categories included: industrialized/
processed foods, hunter/gatherer and organic
farming. To be honest, a vast majority of the
people I know eat almost exclusively from the
first category. I've never seen my mom go out-
side to pick mushrooms or berries for her daily
salad. It's just so much more convenient to
drive to Meijer and by pre-packaged and har-
vested ones. Unless a person lives in the middle
of a lush rain forest and knows what foods are
safe to eat, the second option of foraging for
your own food is laughably unlikely. The days
when a person spent all day outside to catch,
find and pick enough food to sustain them-
selves are long over - in this country at least.
While I enjoyed reading about this.method, I

know that it isn't realistic enough to fit into my
life. Sure, if I'm camping, and I find some wild
raspberries, I'll eat them. But I don't go camp-
ing enough for that to change my life.
The last option, organic farming, is another
option that's tricky. With companies across
the world jumping on this trend, saying their
products are "natural," "organic" and "envi-
ronmentally-friendly," it's hard to figure out
what's really healthy and what's just trying
to make a quick profit. Another problem is
the industrialization of organic farming. This
process, developed to make organic food more
readily available to the masses, is just the same
we've seen with the fast food revolution. It's
another way of taking something pure and
healthy and bastardizing it to make money.
No, I don't think eating - often over-priced
- organic food is the best option for myself or
for omnivores in general. But if you live on an
organic farm and can make your own food, by
all means do so.
So my journey from starting college two and
half years ago and reading this book over the
past month has led me to a very enlightening
conclusion: Use your head and be as personal
with your food as possible. It may not be the
biggest epiphany the world has seen, but it's
done wonders for me. What I mean by this is
that you should embrace the positives in all
options: the convenience of industrialization,
the health and simplicity from real organic
farming and the personal touch from forag-
ing. How do I plan to do this? It's simple. I'm
planning on grocery shopping for myself - as
well as purchasing food from the Ann Arbor
Farmers Market - buying fresh meats and pro-
duce whenever possible and preparing my own
meals. Reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" is
actually a big reason why I plan to live outside
the dorms next year I want more control
over what I'm eating. I think this is a plan that
will work for me and help me lead a healthier
life. But most importantly, it's something I can
actually follow. And that's more than can be
said for someone planning to forage in the Arb
for berries and mushrooms.
Matthew Shutler is an LSA junior.

I's been more than one week since Gore, former wife of vice president Al
the horrible atrocity in Tucson, Gore, used the same argument to try
Ariz., and all I can think about'is to ban Prince from record stores 25
This is Spinal Tap. years ago. It's irresponsible to say that
Tap pioneered the Grand Theft Auto has created murder-
"mockumentary" ers, Black Sabbath is guilty of driving
genre. It follows the someone to suicide and 2 Live Crew is
1982 summer tour of single-handedly responsible for Amer-
Spinal Tap - known ica's decaying moral fabric.
as "Britain's Loud- This belief is supported by scientific
est Band" - in sup- research and the scope and scale of
port of their newest the hypocrisy it would take to believe
album, "Smell the any differently would alone make this
Glove." Early in the belief stronger for me. I have at least
film, a record label NEILL three Notorious B.I.G. albums on my
executive angrily MOHAMMAD iPod right now. Between Biggie and
confronts Spinal Stringer Bell, I know just about all you
Tap's manager over need to know about how to run a suc-
the band's original cessful crack ring, and so far I'm not
proposal for "Glove's" cover art. After running one. So I can't blame Palin, or
Tap's manager claims not to have the anyone else for that matter, for Lough-
slightest idea why anyone thought the ner's actions, and I can't imagine
original art was sexist, the label exec- having to defend myself against that
utive erupts: criticism.
"You put a greased, naked woman But of course, the story doesn't end
on all fours with a dog collar around with criticismof Palin. Maybe there's
her neck, and a leash, and aman's arm a universe in which she could act like
extended out up to here, holding onto a leader and apologize for SarahPAC,
the leash, and pushing a black glove in but also reject any responsibility for
her face to sniff it! You don't find that the Tucson tragedy. We don't live in
offensive? You don't find that sexist?" that universe. Instead, conservative
In a similar, angry vein, it didn't activists started combing the Inter-
take more than an hour or two for net to see if there were any Democrats
most Americans to draw a connec- who could be tarred with the same
tion between Jared Loughner and the brush.
Republican campaign strategy after We've all been there - if you get
the 2008 election. Exhibit A, of course, hit with a phantom foul, then you
was a map of vulnerable Democratic start working the refs to get a make-
congressional incumbents that was up call on the other end. Sure enough
created by former Alaska Gov. Sarah that's what Republicans did. It turns
Palin's political action committee. The out that President Barack Obama
districts were marked with crosshairs. mentioned "bringing a gun to a knife
Pundits connected the dots - and fight" on a campaign stop during his
there were really only two dots neces- 2008 campaign. And someone man-
sary - and concluded that even if Palin aged to unearth a Democratic Lead-
herself didn't pull the trigger, she was ership Committee that identified its
an accomplice. own 2004 "targeting strategy" - dis-
I think that's an irresponsible con- tricts that voted narrowly for George
elusion. It's irresponsible now, and W. Bush in 2000 and were plausibly
it was irresponsible when Tipper trending toward the Democrats -

with little concentric circles of their
Never mind that the "knife fight"
line is taken from a 30-year-old movie
or that the DLC map placed targets
over entire states, not individual dis-
tricts - or that they were targets, not
sights - that would get in the way of
how things are done, which is to take
whatever people are saying about you
and Google furiously until you find
a spurious equivalency on the other
side. There's a word for all of this, by
the way. It's called "tattling."
You can't blame
one person for
Loughner's acts.
But that's not why I'm reminded
of This is Spinal Tap. I'm reminded
by Palin's backup plan, which was to
pretend that the SarahPAC map didn't
even have crosshairs on it at all - and
shame on you for suggesting other-
wise. Not only does violent rhetoric
have nothing to do with Jared Lough-
ner, it actually has nothing to do with
violence in the first place.
Understood. Spending two years
telling people to "take aim" and
"reload" at people marked by gun
sights for having the temerity to not
want to spend one-sixth of our total
economic output on health care has
nothing at all to do with violence. Just
like putting anaked woman ina collar
and leash on an album cover has noth-
ing to do with sexism.
Neill Mohammad can be
reached at neilla@umich.edu.

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