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September 23, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-23

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I

4 - Friday, September 23, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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

SNEHA REDDY

E-MAIL SNEIIAAT SNEIIAR@UMICH.EDU.

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MICHELLE DEWITT
STEPHANIE STEINBERG and EMILY ORLEY
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

NICK SPAR
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.

Transportation troubles Redefining 'education reform'

Bing and DDOT need to end bus system delays
The city of Detroit has recently added public transportation
woes to its litany of struggles. Tensions between Detroit
Department of Transportation mechanics and Mayor Dave
Bing's administration have made bus travel a nightmare. City bus
mechanics claim they've been given too much work to complete in a
timely manner, and Bing's administration claims that the mechanics,
in response to recent pay cuts, aren't doing their jobs properly.
Regardless of who is at fault, the delayed bus service is keeping many
Detroit residents from traveling around the city. The issue needs to
be promptly and effectively addressed.

The DDOT budget has been cut from $80
million in 2008 down to its current level of $53
million. Today, the department has 130 fewer
buses than it did in 2008. The city claims
these funds remain more than sufficient to
cover the current maintenance cost of Detroit
buses. However, Leamon Wilson, president of
the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees Local 312 - which sup-
ports the mechanics - has claimed the funds
are in fact insufficient. Coupled with cuts in
overtime pay and a smaller staff due to retire-
ments, DDOT mechanics cannot efficiently do
their jobs. The city must allot the mechanics
proper time to fully complete each repair.
Bing has accused the union of retaliat-
ing to cuts in pay by delaying the bus main-
tenance process. Terrence King, Bing's top
transportation official, told protesters that the
union is attempting to take the city hostage.
While DDOT mechanics are entitled to a fair
wage, it's imperative that they do their jobs.
If mechanics are concerned about their com-
pensation they need to negotiate for better pay
through the proper channels, while continu-
ing to do their jobs.
While both parties claimed to have been

wronged in this scenario, Detroit residents
are the people who are truly suffering. Many
people use the bus system for transportation
to work, and bus transportation is the only
option for many students and residents. Lines
for the bus that wrap around city blocks are
unacceptable.
The situation has outraged residents and
warranted protests during a hearing at Detroit
City Hall last Friday. It's important for the
issue to be properly fleshed out, but the fin-
ger-pointing and blaming is counterproduc-
tive. DDOT and Bing's administration need
to resolve the issue quickly. Detroit citizens
have the right to rely on public transportation
to meet their needs and get them where they
need to go in a timely manner.
No matter who is right or wrong in this sce-
nario, the people who ultimately lose are the
residents of Detroit. The mayor's office needs
to investigate if the mechanics' complaints are
justified, and the mechanics need to perform
their duties correctly. The city and the union
both need to work together to end the bicker-
ing and find a solution to the problem. Improv-
ing the public transportation system will help
Detroit on its road to recovery.

When I spoke with a friend
about my idea to engage
undergraduates - she
among them,
ideally - in a
project of inno-
vating education,
she said she had
some ideas, but
education reform
wasn't her call-
ing. Though I IBBY
countered thatL
people can work ASHTON
toward some-
thing without
being "called" to it (whatever that
means), I understood why she feltthe
urge to resist making a commitment
to a movement she wasn't sure was
her own. With countless avenues for
change on this campus and the world
at large, it's natural to want to shield
yourself from overextension.
But I think her indifference about
her involvement in bettering schools
can be attributed to more than an
already full plate. The first problem, I
think, is the term "education reform"
itself, which sounds dated and (at
least for me) has an association with
aggressively touted but ultimately
unsuccessful policy initiatives. It
doesn't effectively name what is
essentially the civil rights movement
of our generation.
Much social inequity stems from
inequities in the education sys-
tem, and any vision of eradicating
inequality relies on the education
system for its success. So any prog-
ress we make in terms of social jus-
tice over the next 50 years will be
directly linked to the success and
progression of our schools. And the
work being done to achieve edu-
cational equality is on behalf of
technology innovation, community
partnership and even psychology
- not just curriculum development
and legislation.
A nine-page article in The New

York Times last week .asked, "What
if the Secret to Success is Failure?"
The writer, Paul Tough, explores the
relationship between schooling and
success by looking at the pedagogi-
cal priorities of Dominic Randolph,
the headmaster of Riverdale Coun-
try School in the Bronx, and David
Levin, who co-founded the famously
successful KIPP charter schools in
New York City. Though the contexts
of their work differ - Riverdale
being a socioeconomically privileged
private school and KIPP being a set
of charter schools with primarily
low-income students - the two lead-
ers met due to their shared interest in
psychology and schooling.
They both know how to foster
immediate quantitative academic
success among their students, but
they were after something else -
something that might lead to a sus-
tained, qualitative kind of success.
With help from the work of Univer-
sity psychology Prof. Christopher
Peterson, Randolph and Levin have
identified a list of seven character
traits that accurately predict "life
satisfaction and high achievement."
These seven are: zest, grit, self-con-
trol, social intelligence, gratitude,
optimism and curiosity. Instilling
these character strengths in young
people could become the goal of an
academic program.
To see two leaders, serving two
very different communities, trying to
figure out the best way to guarantee
a life of happiness for their students
is indicative of something more than
reform. It suggests a ripeness for a
wholly new way of thinking about
the purpose of school, the function of
teachers and the measure of achieve-
ment,bothduringand afteracademic
life. If the responsibility of an educa-
tion system is to strengthen charac-
ter, the perspective and expertise of
any self-reflexive person has value
when determining how to execute
such a system. Reforming, or rather

transforming, the education system
isn't a job to be left only to teachers,
administrators and policy makers.
And, at the collegiate level, it's not
a movement exclusive to education
majors and the handful of students
who were bittenby the documentary
"Waiting for Superman."
Because education is a system of
which we're all a product, we can
acknowledge our expertise of our
own experiences and contribute
valuable insight to the design pro-
cesses of Randolph, Levin and their
colleagues. And because a trans-
formed education system in the
21st century will likely breach the
walls of the classroom - existing
online and among the community
- it's more relevant to those who
aren't explicitly interested in how
schools operate. You don't have to
be an "education nerd" to be a part
of the movement - you just have to
be willing to think about questions
like, "What does it mean to be suc-
cessful?" and "How would I culti-
vate success systemically?"
People can't be
indifferent about
bettering schools.
This movement doesn't have to be
your calling or your career in order
for you to join. It just has to spark
your grit, optimism and curiosity
enough to make you position your-
self as an allied community mem-
ber. No matter what you study, take
interest in or plan to pursue profes-
sionally, there's space for you to cre-
ate the change that will define our
generation.
-Libby Ashton can be reached
at eashton@umich.edu.

a
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I

LETTERS 10 IHSE EDIOR SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@MICHIGANDAILY.COM

Affirmative action should
be based on income, not race
TO THE DAILY:
The Michigan Daily's editorial (Re-
affirm(ative action), 9/15/2011) argues that
Proposition 2 violates the 14th Amendment's
Equal Protection clause, and your support for
this claim is that race "plays a role in an appli-
cant's life." But there are many things that
play a role in an applicant's life that are not
considered in admissions decisions including
sexual orientation, parents' divorce, etc. A
stronger argument would show that race not
only plays a role in life but that this role war-
rants it special consideration for admissions
decisions.
One might argue that race warrants special
consideration because certain races are dis-
criminated against socially. However, in my
experience, a homosexual or obese applicant
is as likely to have been discriminated against
in a way that might affect high school perfor-
mance similar to a minority applicant. Unless
one thinks otherwise, admissions committees
should not consider race without also consid-
The repeal of 'don't ask,
don't tell' isjust the first step

ering other social factors.
A more compelling argument is that race
warrants special consideration because of
the enormous gaps in income and (especially)
wealth between the races. An applicant from
Flint, Mich.who has had poor housingschool-
ing and nutrition is certainly at a disadvantage
compared to an applicant from Grosse Pointe,
Mich. who has had private tutoring for the
SAT. This disadvantage should be considered
in admissions decisions. But the Flint appli-
cant is not disadvantaged primarily because
of her race, but because of her low wealth.
Affirmative action based not on race but on
economic status would solve many problems.
It would reduce racial tension. It would treat
an impecunious white applicant from Flint
and a wealthy black applicant from Grosse
Pointe more equitably. The goal of increased
racial diversity would be achieved, since
non-whites are disproportionately from low-
income communities. Employing this type
of affirmative action would simultaneously
achieve the diversity and equity that both
sides of the debate desire.
Michael Showalter
LSA senior

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Patrick Maillet,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner

MATTHEW SKIBA I

Finding your political niche

0

the war still rem
I spent five
Marine Corpsa
never felt the ne
like I was hiding

TO THE DAILY: orientation is so
I was surprised to see an absence of opin- don't meet some
ion articles in The Michigan Daily on Sept. 21 "Hi, I'm Neil, an
concerning the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell." tion is just one r
With Ann Arbor's healthy liberal slant and the Marine Corp
robust LGBT community, I anticipated more the Marine Corp
interest. out professionall
The repeal of DADT is a great step for- a need to do, but
ward for our country. It's not a leap, jump or for them.
anything other than one single step. Many of I'm excited I
our LGBT military members are still being something I bel
denied basic rights and privileges afforded to words with heav
heterosexual couples. The next step is working each his/her ow
toward changing the Defense of Marriage Act. and hope more o
Currently DOMA, is a large roadblock keep- same.
ing LGBT military members from enjoying the
same rights as all other couples. Regardless, Neil Messer
I'll take this victory, but it'sjust a battle won - University alum

ains.
years on active duty in the
as a gay man. I was lucky, I
ed to come out, nor did I feel
something. For me, my sexual
mething personal. After all, I
one for the first time and say,
d I'm gay." My sexual orienta-
part of the whole me. I am in
s Reserves now, and I work for
s as a civilian. I doubt I'll come
ly. It's just not something I feel
for those who do, I'm excited
for our country. Equality is
ieve in very strongly. Simple
y meaning: Live and let live; to
n. I try to live by those words
of America will learn to do the

College is often the time in people's lives when their
political views start to form, if not solidify. As I'm sure
you all saw this year at Festifall, the University is filled
with a wide variety of clubs geared toward increasing
political participation and activism. Many of them,
however, reflect what seems to be the dominant ideol-
ogy here in Ann Arbor: liberalism. But if you are a con-
servative, a centrist or somewhere in between, fear not
because there is a place for you. You just need to know
where to look.
As you begin looking for your political niche on cam-
pus, you should exercise a bit of caution in your search.
Many political organizations on campus are rigidly ori-
ented toward a particular side of an issue or a certain
ideology. I know how tempting it is to surround yourself
with individuals just like you, but to only hang around
people who think like you do would be a terrible dis-
service to your University experience. Doing so will
amount to nothing more than joining partisan pep rat-
lies that punish dissenters and celebrate uniformity.
Your experience here should not be an extension of
your high school years. If, like me, you come from an
upper-middle-class town where diversity of thought
and political ideology is left something to be desired,
then it's time for you to experience something new.
Many students fail to realize that living in such a town
doesn't expose you to experience that could potentially
shed new light on certain issues. But college is all about
getting outside of your comfort zone, experiencing new
things and learning from a student body whose diverse
set of ideas and experiences are supposed to enrich
your education. It's all right if you disagree with peo-
ple around you. That's to be expected. But if you never
at least listen to the other side, you'll never be fully
informed on the issues of the day. Don't take lessons
from Washington D.C. It's OK ifsome tenets of the other
party don't appeal to you. You will never be judged here

for hearing out the other side. And if, God forbid, you
begin to agree with views that once seemed so contrary
to your own, that's OK too. Don't be afraid to change
your views. Nobody here will burn you in effigy or call
you a flip-flopper. I promise.
Now let me be clear: I'm not saying you should feel
the need to conform to those around you. No matter
how odd or out of the mainstream your views may be,
you can definitely find a place on campus where your
ideas will be welcomed and embraced. And as a member
of the Michigan Political Union, Ican unequivocally say
that MPU is one such place. This nonpartisan forum for
debate has defined my political experiences in college.
Between the three parties in the Union, Ican guarantee
your political views will be represented adequately. At
MPU, we aren't afraid to debate the hot topics such as
illegal immigration and affirmative action. And if you're
dying to hear what your professors and other experts
have to say about a particular issue, MPU often invites
them to add their own insights as well. We not only wel-
come dissent, we encourage and expect it.
Maybe if we had more opportunities to have an open
and civil discourse on the problems we face as a nation,
we could face those challenges without the bickering
and character attacks that have become all too common
in American politics. We could finally have that adult
conversation that so many in Washington have been
yearning for.
As a leader of the Independent Party, I invite you to
check out the Michigan Political Union as we would be
happy to have you join us. You can check us out online
at www.michiganpoliticalunion.com. And even if MPU
isn't the right club for you, I hope you'll continue to seek
out places on campus where you can share your views
but also listen to others as well.
Matthew Skiba is an LSA sophomore.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be about 300
words. We don't print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@michigandaily.com

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