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December 06, 2011 - Image 4

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I

4 - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C be 1J*idhigan4 &iI61

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY NICK SPAR
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR

FOLLOW DAILY OPINION ON TWITTER
Keep up with columnists, read Daily editorials, view cartoons and join in the debate.
Check out @michdailyoped to get updates on Daily opinion content throughout the day.

4

Give MSA a break

STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
Schools aren't businesses
Michigan education shouldn't be for-profit
or-profit colleges have been in the headlines recently, as stu-
dents began to realize that shareholders are benefiting more
from their education than they are. The issue has now come
to lower education. As the Michigan Legislature examines bills to lift
the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, with proposed
restrictions on for-profit schools, the Legislature should tread care-
fully. Charter schools are usually founded with an honorable mission,
but the potential for corruption can be a concern. Lawmakers should
ensure that all schools that receive public funding are focused on

here is no Democratic or
Republican way to take out
the trash, shovel snow or, in

this case, run a
student govern-
ment.
Student gov-
ernment is
similar to local
government in
that its primary
tasks are not
controversial.
These govern-
ment bodies
mostly perform

JEREMY
LEVY

education, not profits.
A bill that would lift the cap on the number
of charter schools is currently being debated in
the state House of Representatives. Meanwhile
Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) is advo-
cating a constitutional amendment that would
ban for-profit charter schools from opening in
Michigan. Education reform groups are also
asking for quality control measures on both
non-profit and for-profit charter schools.
Roughly 80 percent of charter schools in
Michigan can be considered for-profit, accord-
ing to a Forbes article, and if the cap is lifted
on the number of charter schools allowed,
even more for-profit schools could form. The
problem with this type of school is that it takes
money from the school and gives it to the cor-
porations that manage the school. This pro-
cess makes education a business and students
a commodity who yield profits, and it's not the
type of institution the state should support.
Quality controlmeasures for.charter schools
need to be in place to ensure the schools are
doing what they are meant to do: provide a
quality education to Michigan's students.
Public schools are encouraged to display their
budget online as well as some staff salaries
and student testing data. This should also
be required of charter schools. Making this

information available allows the public to hold
charter schools accountable for how they are
spending their money and the type of educa-
tion they are providing.
State Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), the chair
of the Michigan Senate's education commit-
tee, said he believes that eliminating for-profit
schools is hypocritical because non-profit
charter schools as well as public schools spend
money buying supplies from private compa-
nies. But Pavlov is simply trying to cover up the
issue. Non-profit charter schools may purchase
supplies from private companies, but they don't
have shareholders looking to get paid. The dif-
ference lies in who is managing the school and
the primary motivations of those managers.
Charter schools have their place in the public
education landscape and have provided many
positive opportunities for Michigan students.
They are an affordable alternative to tradition-
al public or private schools. But lifting the cap
on the number of charter schools could lead to
an increase in the number of for-profit charter
schools and cyber schools - schools that hold
all classes online - unless quality control mea-
sures are in place. Lawmakers must be careful
to prioritize education and not turn school sys-
tems into for-profit ventures.

administrative tasks to ensure that
their localities are functioning
smoothly. Local governments take
out the trash. The Michigan Student
Assembly allocates money to student
organizations.
But in certain ways, both MSA
and The Michigan Daily paint apic-
ture in which student government
is analogous to the federal govern-
ment in significance and controver-
sy. MSA divides itself into political
parties that supposedly have differ-
ent ideological platforms (though
I imagine that freshmen members
simply choose the party their friends
are in), and the Daily assumes the
oversight role of the media - the
necessary "fourth branch" of gov-
ernment that will keep the other
branches in check.
I love the Daily, but one thing I
haven't been able to understand in
my four years here is the newspa-
per's never-ending feud with MSA.
The Daily prints a scathing edito-
rial of MSA on a regular basis. A
student cannot simultaneously be a
member of MSA and the Daily. And
in my experience within the Daily's
walls, there is a near-unanimous
sentiment that MSA is idiotic and
dysfunctional.
When I was on the Daily's editori-
al board, I asked why we had to pick
apart every single decision that MSA
ever makes. There are two general
responses to this question. One is

that the main purpose of any news-
paper is to inform the public about
government decisions and govern-
ment wrongdoing. The other is that
members of MSA could be the future
politicians of America and need to
learn to be responsible office hold-
ers. The main problem here is that
the newspaper is being overly ideal-
istic. Unlike with state and federal
governments, the day-to-day func-
tioning of MSA has little impact on
most students. This is not because
MSA members are disorganized -
it's simply how student government
works by design.
Here are all the things you will
ever need to know about the Michi-
gan Student Assembly:
Most decisions that are impor-
tant to students are out of student
government's jurisdiction. Two
weeks ago, a Daily editorial urged
students to take studentgovernment
elections seriously. I think I speak
for many when I say that I have zero
interest in the election outcomes.
The University leadership, not MSA,
is responsible for important deci-
sions such as tuition, financial aid,
course offerings and campus safety.
Furthermore, I'm confident that
95 percent of MSA candidates are
motivated people who are qualified
to assure that the organization can
perform its most basic functions. It's
not worth students' time to decide
which candidates are better at allo-
cating funding.
MSA is a student organization.
MSA decisions are more scrutinized
than those of any other group on
campus, and such highlevels of scru-
tiny are completely uncalled for. It's
true that there is a $7.19 tuition fee
that goes directly to student govern-
ment. But a lot of that money trick-
les down to other student groups.
If one were to conduct a study on
the spending practices of campus
organizations, I'd hypothesize that
MSA would turn out to be one of the
most fiscally responsible. But since
it is the only student organization

MSA does make bad decisions,
but it also makes good ones. When
it comes to truly egregious errors
such as the MSA website debacle in
which the student government spent
$9,000 on creating a non-functional
website or scandals involving the
MSA president, I agree that the
Daily has a duty to comment. But
analyzing every single resolution
they passed in a semester, as Daily
columnist Eaghan Davis did ina col-
umn last Tuesday, is not productive.
No matter who's in charge, there
will always be useless MSA resolu-
tions. The only way this can change
is if the University gives the student
government more authority.
What's more, it seems the Daily
is always hesitant to recognize MSA
accomplishments. Statements that
hedge on complimentary often need
to be qualified with a reminder of
everything that is wrong with stu-
dent government (though I was
pleasantly surprised to see this was
not the case in an April editorial on
the Open Housing Initiative).
The Daily's beef with MSA goes
back a long time, and I don't really
expect it to change. But as a staff
member who has been involved in
the editorial process, I don't see any
reason why it has to continue. When
it comes to MSA, the Daily isoften
slinging mud instead of performing
an editorial duty.
- Jeremy Levy can be reached
at jeremlev@umich.edu.

constantly in the public spotlight, it
is the only one that gets blamed for
making mistakes.
The Daily should
end its animosity
toward MSA.

4

I

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Caroline Syms, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
ADRIENNE ROBERTS
Respect female politicians

-t heUpgrade/Downgrade: Laura Argintar discusses the pros and
cons of a new trend on campus - electronic music.
odium Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium

0

0

A state of emergency?

Women have a prominent place in poli-
tics. It is most likely either as the role of the
crazed, feminist politician - who presumably
has no chance of becoming president - or the
tempting mistress who ruins the campaign
of the once promising male politician. Hill-
ary Clinton, Sarah Palin and Michele Bach-
mann certainly are not perfect presidential
candidates, but what candidate has been? If
a woman presidential candidate is not attrac-
tive, persistent without being pushy and
smart and youthful without being immature,
society writes her off as just another stereo-
typical hormonal and controlling housewife.
This hypocrisy must end.
Bachmann is the most recent example of
this injustice. Politicians, regardless of gen-
der, must realize that putting themselves in
the public eye immediately subjects them to
criticism. However, a certain line must be
drawn as to what constitutes attacks on poli-
cy and agenda and what is critical for a pure-
ly sensational story. The Huffington Post
recently published an article titled, "Michele
Bachmann's Makeup Woes Continue At Book
Signing" complete with zoomed-in photos
and a scathing description. Though, to be
fair, this article is placed in the Life and Style
section, and most people do not read the
Huffington Post to get fashion tips. But that
means readers, who were possibly looking
for more political news, unknowingly judged
Bachmann on the foundation creases on her
forehead, not her ability to run a country.
Bachmann will most likely not be the
Republican presidential candidate. It was
Bachmann who put herself in that position,
not the media or society. However, when
America does have a woman who has expe-
rience and proves herself to be assertive, as
did Hillary Clinton, she is scorned for being
pushy, aggressive and old. In men, these
qualities are usually considered to be "get-
ting things done," but in Clinton's case, it
was her biggest downfall. Clinton was criti-
cized for wearing baggy pantsuits and hair
clips - giving her a "manly" appearance as

described by well-known stylists. This made
her seem too intimidating, which caused citi-
zens to have trouble identifying with her.
What seems to be a growing trend for
women in the political arena is the position of
the fame hungry mistress. Substantial time is
spent trying to uncover the "real" intentions
of these women. The recent scandal involv-
ing GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain
certainly made Cain look bad, but it also sold
the story that these mistresses were trying to
ruin Cain's campaign for five minutes of fame
and a check. Regardless of their intentions,
these women are never portrayed as being
victims of sexual misconduct, which very
well may be the truth.
This is a two-way street. Women in promi-
nent political positions are not that prevalent.
Therefore, they must realize that they rep-
resent women as a whole. Men represent an
extremely high percentage of politicians, so
their decisions, for the most part, are repre-
sentative of themselves. Women do not have
that luxury. Palin, using her vice presidential
candidacy as a way to gain fame through her
own reality show and two book deals, gave
future women in politics one more hurdle to
clear to prove that they are capable leaders.
Why is it that 89 countries surpass America
in terms of women representation in govern-
ment? It may be possible that America's stan-
dards are just unnaturally high for not only
women politicians, but women in general.
Society expects women to be a perfect bal-
ance of powerful and demure, which is a lot to
ask. There needs to be an end to the constant
criticism of things like Bachmann's makeup or
Clinton's strong personality, as both women are
just attempting to fit the expected standards.
Both parties have responsibilities. Women in
the political landscape must have pure inten-
tions, and the media needs to scrutinize more
than just artificialities. Only then can there be
hope for the future women of this country to be
public figures and spearheadbeneficial change.
Adrienne Roberts is an LSA sophomore.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder
came into office as a self-
styled champion of small
government.
How's he hold-
ing up? Let's take
a look.
In March,
the Republican
majority in the
state Legislature
passed Public
Act 4 - a law DANIEL
that gives Snyder CHARDELL
the authority to ®
declare a state of
"financial emergency" in any munic-
ipality or public school district in the
state. Though similar state laws have
been on the books since 1988, Public
Act 4 has been the source of much
controversy because it significantly
extends the powers given to the gov-
ernor and his appointees.
Here's how the law works.
If state lawmakers fear that a
local government is under "prob-
able financial stress," the governor
may appoint a review team to deter-
mine the severity of the situation.
If the governor confirms the exis-
tence of a financial emergency, he
may unilaterally appoint an emer-
gency manager to take charge of the
local government.
Now here's the best part. Accord-
ing to the Michigan Department
of Treasury's summary of Public
Act 4, elected officials of the local
government in question "are pro-
hibited from exercising any of their
powers of offices without written
approval of the Emergency Man-
ager, and their compensation and
benefits are eliminated." And that's
not all. "In addition to other pow-
ers, an Emergency Manager may
reject, modify or terminate collec-

tive bargaining agreements, recom-
mend consolidation or dissolution
of units of local government, and
recommend bankruptcy proceed-
ings." An emergency manager stays
in power until removed by the
governor, the state Legislature or
"until the financial emergency is
rectified," which, essentially, is left
up to the emergency manager to
decide for himself.
Snyder hasn't shied away from
exercising the unprecedented pow-
ers given to him under Public Act
4. Already, he's appointed financial
emergencymanagers to Benton Har-
bor, Pontiac, Ecorse and the Detroit
Public School district. Flint recently
became the latest municipality to be
slapped with the mark of "financial
emergency," which resulted in Sny-
der's appointment of a new emer-
gency manager there last week as
well. What were the appointee's first
actions as Flint's new leader? Firing
locally elected officials, of course.
What a victory for small gov-
ernment. I'm sure our Founding
Fathers would-be proud of the state
of our democracy.
The debate has taken on a new
urgency over the last several days
as Snyder readies a team to review
Detroit's finances, spurring many
to speculate that the Motor City
may be the Governor's next tar-
get for emergency management. In
response, Rep. John Conyers (D -
Mich), whose congressional district
includes Detroit, has sent a letter to
United States Attorney General Eric
Holder asking the U.S. Department
of Justice to investigate the constitu-
tionality of Snyder's takeovers. Some
critics have framed the implementa-
tion of Public Act 4 as an affront to
civil rights victories of the mid-20th
century. (All of the municipalities to

which Snyder has appointed emer-
gency managers have large African-
American communities.)
Snyder and his supporters jus-
tify Public Act 4 on the grounds of
accountability. (After all, the law
is titled "Local Government and
School District Fiscal Accountabil-
ity Act.") They cite excessive spend-
ing on the part of locally elected
government officials as the primary
threat facing the state of Michigan.
Public Act 4
poses a challenge
to democracy.

0

I beg to differ.
Yes, we can all agree that account-
ability is vital to a functioning
democracy. But in usurping the dem-
ocratic process,replacingthe elected
with the unelected, telling citizens
that their votes are dispensable and
consolidating power in the hands
of the few in the name of stability,
all these principles fly in the face of
what today's GOP so often preaches.
The hypocrisy is astounding.
I'm surprised and slightly disap-
pointed at how little attention all
this has received, both on campus
and in the media. I challenge any-
one who cares about democracy,
Detroit or both to follow this story as
it develops over the coming weeks.
Don't let it fall by the wayside. More
importantly, don't let Snyder dis-
mantle local governments on the
grounds of an "emergency."
-Daniel Chardell can be
reached at chardell@umich.edu.

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