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December 09, 2011 - Image 4

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4 - Friday, December 9, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Friday, December 9, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

W I iigan Batil
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MICHELLE DEWITT
STEPHANIE STEINBERG and EMILY ORLEY NICK SPAR
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS 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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
FROM THE DAILY
Don't blow away power
Michigan should implement wind turbine plan
s the country's global energy demand increases, so does the
importance of finding a renewable energy source. In today's
society, renewable energy plays an integral role in provid-
ing people with environmentally friendly, clean and inexhaustible
electricity and heat. Michigan has the opportunity to implement
clean energy practices through wind turbines. By installing both
on- and offshore wind power sites, Michigan can become a lead-
er in renewable energy. Michigan legislators need to find a way to
provide funding for large-scale wind turbines and construct wind
farms within the state.

...this brings back very bad memories and
bad associations. That this is actually
happening is unbelievable."
- Virginia Tech director of creative writing Ed Falco said about the shooting at
Virginia Tech yesterday, as reported by The New York Times yesterday.

*I

Arbitrary standards

An offshore wind farm with 36 turbines
began operating off the coast of the Nether-
lands in 2007. The operation currently pro-
vides power for about 100,000 households.
The turbines are located six to nine miles off-
shore and are not, for the most part, visible to
people on a nearby beach. The first proposal
for the same type of wind turbines in Michi-
gan off the coast of Lake Michigan near Pent-
water was shut down last year after strong
opposition by the Lake Michigan POWER
Coalition - a non-profit organization com-
mitted to preserving and protecting Lake
Michigan's resources.
Wind turbines are one of the best sources
of renewable energy because once they've
been built and put into place, they only
require wind to function. America's energy
needs have steadily increased in recent years,
and if Michigan could supply its own renew-
able energy, then the state could reduce its
energy expenses and become more economi-
cally self-sufficient.
Legislators need to reconsider the pro-
posal to install turbines in Michigan. One of
the main arguments against wind turbines is
their unpleasant appearance and size. Many
opponents claim that turbines will reduce the
property value of lakefront homes if they are

visible. However, if the turbines are placed far
enough offshore, potential tourists and local
residents should not be able to see them except
on extremely clear days. And if turbines were
constructed in Lake Michigan, they would be
built a large distance from land to ensure the
highest wind power.
As a state with a history of industrial man-
ufacturing, Michigan has the infrastructure
needed to produce wind turbines. If the wind
turbine plan was put into effect, recycled
oil tankers could be used to install the wind
turbines far offshore, since this type of ship
is large enough to transport the massive tur-
bines. Implementing the project with recycled
oil rigs would be an additional benefit and
make the process more sustainable. Addition-
ally, this plan would provide a boost for the
Michigan job market, which the economy
could certainly use.
The principle argument against wind tur-
bines is the aesthetic concerns from water-
front homeowners and cities that rely on the
tourist industry. But by placing large wind
turbines far off coastlines, that concern can be
eliminated. Wind turbines are a tremendous
source of renewable energy, and the Michigan
Legislature needs to find funding for turbines
and create a plan to implement them.

made it to college. We all did.
And in order to do so, I had
to take the SAT, the ACT, the
MEAP and a
whole host of
other standard-
ized tests. I
trudged through
them, as I'm
sure many of
you did, because,
as frustrating as HASHA
theywere, some-
where there was NAHATA
the generally
accepted notion
that the tests were important. They
mattered - if for no other reason
than the fact that they supposedly
measured how prepared you were
for the next stage of your life.
But a recent Washington Post blog
post draws doubt on the ability of
standardized tests to see how well-
prepared students are for real life. In
Marion Brady's Dec. 5 blog, "When
an adult took standardized tests forced
on kids," she writes about the experi-
ence of one of her longtime friends,
Rick Roach. Roach is on the school
board of District 3 in Orange County,
Fla. He has a bachelor's degree in
education and two master's degrees
in education and education psychol-
ogy. He has been re-elected to be a
board member of Orange County's
school board three times. In addition
to being a school board member, he's
been ateacher, counselor and coach.
Roach decided to take the Florida
Comprehensive Assessment Test.
The FCAT is a state standardized
test administered to students in
grades 3 through 11 in Florida every
year. It measures students' knowl-
edge of mathematics, reading, sci-
ence and writing. Similar to the

Michigan Educational Assessment
Program tests for the state of Michi-
gan, the FCAT is used to determine
schools' accountability while also
assess student preparedness for the
next grade.
After Roach took the test, he
described his response. Here is the
conclusion he reached:
"I won't beat around the bush. The
math section had 60 questions.I knew
the answers to none of them, but man-
aged to guess ten out of the 60 cor-
rectly. On the reading test, I got 62%.
In our system, that's a 'D,' and would
get me a mandatory assignment to a
double block ofreading instruction...
If I'd been required to take those
two tests when I was a 10th grader,
my life would almost certainly have
been very different. I'd have been
told I wasn't 'college material,' would
probably have believed it, and looked
for work appropriate for the level of
ability that the test saidIhad."
Roach is a pretty successful pro-
fessional by today's standards. He
has been through undergraduate
and graduate school, and is cur-
rently working on a doctorate. He
presides over an organization con-
sisting of 22,000 employees and a
$3 billion budget. The fact that he
couldn't answer most of the ques-
tions on the test is telling. It isn't_
that standardized tests are too hard
or that students who do poorly are
stupid or lazy, but the style of ques-
tioning on the tests is obscure and
abstract. The types of questions
asked and the criteria for passing or
failing seems tobe arbitrary at best.
And, as Roach says, much of the
concepts - especially in the math
portion - that students are tested
on will not be applicable in most
college and professional careers

(with the exception of the few who
become math majors or go into
business). How can a test claim to
adequately assess how likely stu-
dents are to succeed in the future
if the material being tested has
no connection to the criteria by
which success is measured in the
real world? And should such tests
be used to rank schools, determine
readiness for college, or grant fed-
eral funding to schools?
State tests don't
accurately reflect
academic ability.

Standardized test scores play a
large role in determining schools'
reputations and in gauging wheth-
er students are or aren't "college
material" (as Roach puts it). But,
when successful professionals with
bachelor's and master's degrees
are clueless about a majority of
the questions, something is wrong.
Many have made the argument that
standardized tests don't accurately
reflect a students' true abilities.
Roach's experiment shows that the
tests don't relate to how the real
world functions either. And yet,
they continue to shape the future of
countless people. Perhaps it is time
to re-evaluate the role that stan-
dardized tests, specifically state
administrated ones, playin the edu-
cation system.
-Harsha Nahata is an assistant
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at hnahata@umich.edu.

0
0

MANDY KAIN E
Eviction is against our values

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida All, Kaan Avdan, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Insks Mayer, arsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Caroline Syms, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner

Over winter break, many Jewish students -
including40 from the University -will depart
on Birthright trips to Israel, celebrating their
connection to a land that has been home to
both Jews and Palestinians for thousands of
years. Many of those involved nationally with
J Street U and J Street UMich were introduced
to the land and its people through Taglit-Birth-
right. We are excited that others are traveling
to Israel, but we want to ensure that our com-
munity engages with the history of the land
in a way that is consistent with our values.
Unfortunately, an ongoing attempt to evict a
Palestinian family from their home in East
Jerusalem illustrates the challenge of aligning
our experience with those values.
The Sumarins are a Palestinian family living
in Silwan, a predominantly Arab neighborhood
in the Old City of Jerusalem. The City of David
is a tourist site in Jerusalem that is the putative
location of the ancient political capital of King
David. It is managed by the non-profit organi-
zation Ir David Foundation (Amutat El-Ad),
which has a rigid political agenda to increase
Jewish presence in Arab neighborhoods. The
Sumarin home is located within the City of
David National Park, and has become a victim
of the controversial Absentee Property Law,
which states that any property whose owner
and/or heirs were not physically present after
1967 would be turned overto the state of Israel.
Musa Sumarin, the home's original owner,
died in 1983 while his three sons were living
outside of Israel. However, other members of
the Sumarin family have continuously lived
on the property for decades, with the permis-
sion of the owners. The Israeli government
declared the Sumarin home an Absentee Prop-
erty in 1991 and turned it over to the group
Himnuta - a subsidary of the Jewish National
Fund (JNF) - slapping the Sumarin family of
12 with an eviction notice and sparking a long
legal battle. The most recent date of eviction,
Nov. 28, was postponed due to outcry from
Israeli and international protesters, including
Rabbis for Human Rights - an Israeli organi-
zation of Rabbis and Rabbinical students that
advocates for human rights. The postponement
was announced bythe JNF.
Yes, that JNF - the one our Jewish com-
munity centers, day schools and synagogues all
collected tzedekah, charity, for in blue boxes to
help plant trees in Israel. The JNF was integral

to the founding of Israel and now maintains
Israel's parks and historic sites. But in addi-
tion to these noble tasks, itcalso owns and oper-
ates Himnuta, an organization that does what
the JNF officially does not - obtains proper-
ties over the Green Line, the demarcation line
established in the 1949 Armistice Agreements
separating Israel from its neighbors, and turns
them over to settler organizations like Elad, as
Himnuta has done over and over again in Sil-
wan. Clearly, this is not an isolated incident.
These groups are dedicated to de-Arabizing
East Jerusalem and preventing it from becom-
ing part of any future Palestinian state.
JNF claims that it is not accountable for the
actions of Himnuta, despite all evidence to the
contrary. We hope thatthe JNF will build upon
its legacy - of bringing the dream of a Jewish
homeland into fruition - by acting to support,
rather than oppose, a two-state solution and
stopping the Sumarins' eviction and all further
activity over the Green Line.
Birthright participants from the Universi-
ty's campus who are scheduled to take a tour of
the City of David should question the implica-
tions of the site for displaced Palestinian fami-
lies. Trips to explore Jewish identity should
not usurp the identities and rights of others.
Recognizing and respecting Palestinian ties
to their land does not threaten or delegitimize
Israel; rather, it creates an empathetic dialogue
among all those who love the land - Israel,
Gaza and the West Bank.
J Street UMich strongly believes that this
can only come through a two-state solution. As
American, Israeli and Palestinian politics alike
become more divided, we must take advantage
of the unique opportunities on our campus.
While our viewpoints may differ, we should
all agree that the events in Silwan are against
our values as a Michigan community, and we
can no longer allow antagonistic and divisive
actions such as these to characterize the Israe-
li-Palestinian situation. In the new semester
and the New Year (with a presidential election,
no less), J Street UMich hopes to work with
others on our campus to engage in robust dia-
logue and undergo collective activism that are
characterized by civility, empathy and, above
all, a commitment to peace.
This viewpoint was written on behalf of J Street
UMich by Mandy Kain. She is a Rackham student.

One 'sweet' resource

When I was much young-
er, the Microsoft Word
spell-checker was my
only editor. As
I advanced as a
writer, I learned
that in addition
to electronic
help, there were
many resources
out there that
could help me LEAH
with my writing POTKIN
- not the least
of which were
my parents.
However, I always bristled at their
criticism (read: advice), so I was
excited when I had the opportunity
to work with my peers on my high
school newspaper. While I ben-
efited greatly from my time spent
working with peers, when I came
to the University, it was back to the
spell-checker.
This is not to say that the Univer-
sity doesn't offer the appropriate
resources for peer help, but rather
that I was unfamiliar with them.
Before my sophomore year, I had
little to no idea what the Sweetland
Writing Center was. Quite frankly,
the extent of my knowledge was
that one of my classes met in a room
inside the center. Early in my junior
year, I was introduced to Sweetland
as a place where "troubled writers"
could get help. I reluctantly checked
it out, and was surprised and thrilled
to discover that it was a place for all
types of writers, troubled or accom-
plished, to sharpen and develop their
writing skills. Since then, I have
trained to become a Sweetland peer

tutor and have learned firsthand
whatthis previouslyunfamiliar place
has to offer. So, with the end of the
semester looming and final paper due
dates approaching, students - strug-
gling or not - should familiarize
themselves with Sweetland and take
advantage of its myriad of resources.
Quite often, students stereotype
writing centers as places where
challenged, or dare I say "bad,"
writers are sent for help. Unfortu-
nately, teachers often do little to
combat this misconception as they
often recommend that struggling
writers pay a visit to Sweetland.
And while Sweetland is indeed a
great resource for students, it is by
no means a place only for the strug-
gling. Anyone can benefit from a
visit to the writing center, and stu-
dents from all different schools and
departments should realize how
much they can learn from engaging
in one-on-one dialogue about their
writing. Sweetland tutors are there
to help students brainstorm, struc-
ture and edit, while catefing direct-
ly to students' needs - whatever
they may be. And while I under-
stand that there are people who
feel confident enough in their work
to go at it alone, I think I'd be hard
pressed to find a student on campus
who hasn't struggled at some point
in the writing process.
That being said, because stu-
dents frequently feel embarrassed
about needing extra help, teach-
ers, students and tutors must work
together to break the undeserved
stigma of writing centers. There is
no shame in either needing or want-
ing help, and students should know

that writers of all levels and needs
are welcomed at Sweetland. In fact,
students should realize how lucky
they are to have such an amazing
and free resource at their disposal,
as few other tutoring services on
campus are cost-free (I know peo-
ple who have shelled out hundreds
of dollars on tutoring in a single
semester). And because there is no
charge for appointments - most of
which are on a walk-in basis - stu-
dents simply have no excuse for not
visiting the center. Sweetland even
offers online tutoring for students
who either can't fit a one-on-one
session into their schedules, or who
are uncomfortable speaking about
their work in a personal setting.
Students should
use University's
writing center.
So, as you work on your final
drafts, or as you begin drafting, be
sure to remember that Sweetland
is only a short walk or e-mail away.
By visiting Sweetland, you have the
opportunity to improve not onlythe
paper you are working on, but your
writing skills and abilities. Tutors
are always happy to see new faces,
and though the separation might
be hard at first, I doubt your spell-
checker will miss you too much.
- Leah Potkin can be reached
at lpotkin@umich.edu.

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