4A - Wednesday, January, 18, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Wednesday, January, 18, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
4C fiiigan Bat,*1
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ANDREW WEINER JOSH HEALY
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sustain STEM programs
Math and science majors should be promoted
Any student who's taken a math or science class at the Univer-
sity has grappled with the demands of a rigorous academic
schedule. The burden is taking a toll as an increasing num-
ber of students who enter college with the intention of majoring in
a STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - discipline
decide to switch majors. As the United States continues to lag in math
and science education, it's important that the University continue to
foster a supportive environment for students studying these subjects.
Student warning! Do your homework early.
Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!"
- Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted Monday about the Wikipedia blackout today
in protest of two anti-piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP. Act.
The catch-22 ofpolitics
According to a study cited by a Nov. 4 arti-
cle in the New York Times, about 40 percent
of students who plan on majoring in engi-
neering or science switch concentrations or
fail to receive a degree. When pre-medical
students are taken into account, this number
rises to roughly 60 percent.
It's encouraging that the Obama admin-
istration has made math and science educa-
tion a priority. The topic was mentioned in
the State of the Union address last January,
and last June the president called on univer-
sities to produce 10,000 more engineers each
year. As the U.S. navigates a more competi-
tive global economy, an emphasis on math
and science is essential to creating a healthy
climate for technological innovation.
More students sticking to the pre-medical
track could mean better progress toward
reducing the projected deficit of 91,500 phy-
sicians by 2020, according to the Associa-
tion of American Medical Colleges.w Action
is better than rhetoric - Obama should set
forward substantive policy initiatives that
directly address shortcomings in college-
level math and science education.
The University should also address the
issue. As a first step, tracking the number
of students who switch majors would help
determine the scope of the problem. Steps to
combat attrition could include redesigning
lower-level coursework, modifying grading
procedures to ease freshmen into math and
science learning and expanding tutoring
resources available on campus. Though both
the University and the federal government
are aware of the issue, it must become a focus
as the need for students with math and sci-
ence backgrounds continues to grow.
U pon hiring Washington
D.C.'s first chancellor of
schools, then-mayor Adrian
Fenty was asked
by his new-
"How much are
you willing to
And that he did. SARAH
Fenty, who ROHAN
spoke in Blau
the Ross School of Business on Mon-
day as part of the 26th annual Rev.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sym-
posium, focused the majority of
his speech - as he did his mayoral
tenure - on education reform. The
issue of education reform is perhaps
foreign to students here in the eru-
dite halls of the University, but the
system is real and widespread.
Take, for example, the statistics
of Fenty's own Washington, D.C.
school district. At the time of his
inauguration in 2007, reading pro-
ficiency among eighth graders was
12 percent. The rate was even lower
in math, with students showing an
8 percent proficiency. Washington,
D.C.'s scores echoed hundreds of
other schools systems across Ameri-
ca, but Fenty - as mayor of a district
with the worst scores in the nation
- was unwilling to perpetuate the
Fenty looked to the radically dif-
ferent school models New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and for-
mer Chicago Mayor Richard Daley
employed in their own cities. Fenty
felt that the best way to reform D.C.'s
schools was to run them "like a pri-
vate sector business" as Bloomberg
and Daley had done. Consequently,
Fenty transferred control of D.C.
school systems from an elected
school board to himself. In the final
steps of transformation in 2007,
Fenty hired Michelle Rhee, an
inexperienced but determined for-
mer teacher, as the school district's
Throughout Rhee's tenure as
chancellor, she closed 23 schools
and fired 266 "bad" teachers. Rhee
introduced the notion Fenty refers
to as "accountability" or the system
of "rewarding good teachers and
punishing bad teachers." While pub-
lic school teachers in D.C. received
salary increases based on senior-
ity, Rhee wanted to reward teachers
with salary increases based on the
quality of their instruction, rather
than the length of their career.
It was a bold move and didn't go
In the span of four years, profi-
ciency of D.C.'s 8th grade students
rose to 15 percent in both areas of
reading and math. According to
Fenty, the improvements in this
short period were greater than any
recorded improvement in the pre-
ceding 30 years.
Despite the greatest educational
turn-around in D.C. history, Fenty
was not re-elected for a second term.
The most unsettling fact about his
failed bid for re-election is that the
majority of those who voted against
him were African Americans, or
those who would be the primary
beneficiaries of an improved public
In trying - and succeeding - to
make a radical change, Fenty ended
his mayoral candidacy. The idea
that marked change risks political
backlash is not a new or unknown
concept. Consider President Barack
Obama, who won the 2008 presi-
dential election largely through
promises of great change but is now
often criticized for being too pas-
sive. As frustrating as it may be, can
we really blame him? We live in an
era where the payoff of employing
actual change comes at the expense
of a political career. Fenty's situa-
tion underscores the great catch-22
of politics - people make a career of
politics to bring about change, but
once they are put in a position to do
just that, they will shy away from
anything too drastic so as not to lose
Change comes at
of a career.
As sad as this reality is today,
Fenty pointed out that it may not be
the reality of tomorrow. Appropri-
ately, Fenty quoted from King's "I've
Been to The Mountaintop" speech
wherein he recalled, "only when
it is dark enough, can you see the
stars." To also borrow from MLK's
final speech, I believe that we have
"seen the promised land" in both
education reform and more broad-
ly, political willingness to employ
change thanks to Fenty's efforts.
The positive changes that happened
in Washington D.C. during Fenty's
short tenure as mayor can happen in
any arena where change is needed.
Our politicians just need to practice
a little more "dangerous unselfish-
ness," as King would say.
- Sarah Rohan can be reached
al lure to follow through
Maroun needs to allow proper repairs on bridge
Matthew Maroun, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge
that connects Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, has defraud-
ed Michigan taxpayers by failing to follow construction
orders from the state. Maroun and his company should meet the
obligations set out for them or continue to face legal action.
portation filed a lawsuitcagainst Maroun's com-
pany for not completing its part of the Gateway
project. The project, which has been in devel-
opment since the 1990s, would reduce traffic
around the Ambassador Bridge by implement-
ing a series of new ramps that connect to local
freeways. Instead of completing the project as
planned, Maroun diverted bridge traffic past
a duty-free gas station and convenience store
that he also owns. Maroun was held in con-
tempt of court in November and was jailed last
week for his failure to finish work on the Gate-
way project, as ordered by court.
Many of the nation's aging bridges are struc-
turally deficient and need to be upgraded in
order to meet modern demands. In this case,
the state is in a unique position to renovate its
infrastructure by sharing costs with the Cana-
dian government to improve a critical crossing
between Detroit and Ontario.
Because of Maroun's actions, improvements
to the current bridge, as well as construction
on a proposed second bridge, are now in jeop-
ardy. His mismanagement of resources hurts
the people of Michigan by wasting tax dollars
and delaying important improvements to a
crossing that Michigan's manufacturing and
tourism industries can't operate without.
Maroun should face jail time until the
Department of Transportation is satisfied with
his company's work on the Gateway project.
Hear Me Out: Maggie Chang says the student section at
Yost Ice Arena is better than the football or basketball crowd.
pod u U IGo to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium
Dr. King's Northern dream
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain,
Jesse Klein, Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata,
Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts,Vanessa Rychlinski,
Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
LAURA ARGINTAR fIE
In defense of Dell
Every time I find a seat and unpack my
belongings - namely my laptop - in the
Hatcher Graduate Library Reference Room, I
can't help but notice that I have the only Dell
in a sea of Macs. I don't have a lit up apple to
proudly display as I'm hard at work. My com-
puter is significantly less sleek and I can never
don a cool case that fits my larger, heavier PC.
It suddenly feels - for a split second - that
I am in high school again. The odd man out
whose mother packs her a hearty roast beef
sandwich while the rest of the lunchroom
sneers with their delicate cheese on white
bread. In almost every meeting, every class-
room, every table, my Dell is the only thing
that separates me from the rest of the group.
Growing up with a "techie" father who
endorsed only PCs - so much so that when I
was 10 years old he had me take apart a com-
puter and put it back together again - I have
never grown accustomed to Apple products.
You'll never see me with an iPhone or Pad or
MacBook, and I'll never understand how to
even open Safari, let alone use it. My life as
a student revolves around a dark navy blue,
basic yet durable laptop that sometimes gets
viruses and other times shuts down unex-
pectedly and forgets to save.
More often than not, I am constantly ques-
tioned about my brand choice. "It's weird you
don't have a Mac," or "CanI borrow your char-
ger?" that I clearly don't have. But at the end of
the day, I've been with my same Dell for four
years, and I know it better than I know the
University campus. I don't stress about keep-
ing up with the constantly updated Apple mer-
chandise, I don't need all the fancy software
like Final Cut or Photoshop. It's almost as if my
world is a little simpler when it's just me and
my Dell - and that's okay by me.
Throughout our four years at college, we
embark on a journey to better understand our-
selves. A big part of going to school is trying out
classes and clubs that may seem foreign to you
at first, but eventually, as you gain an interest in
the subject, you realize that the club you joined
is made up of people with the same interests
as your own. In some ways, we all start out as
outsiders, yet ultimately find our niche. And
maybe, if I'm lucky, these people will also have
a Dell that I can share my charger with.
Laura Argintar is an LSA senior
and a Daily opinion blogger.
This is the time of year when
we used to watch documen-
taries about the civil rights
movement of the
1960s in elemen-
tary and middle
was set aside
where an actor
read the Rev. Dr.
KingJr.'s "I Have SETH
a Dream" speech SODERBORG
and the gospel
choir sang out
in faithful strains. These were the
only moments when the school cur-
riculum acknowledged that religious
communities were at the center of
the civil rights struggle.
The moviesshowed us an inspiring
story of progress. Whether the move-
ments began in Montgomery, Ala. in
1954, or in Little Rock, Ark. in 1957,
they marched us from one southern
city to the next until we arrived with
hundreds of thousands of people in
Washington, D.C. to watch King tell
us of his dream in 1963.
My teachers liked to say that the
"Dream" speech was made up on the
spot. Lastyear, I heard arecordingof
King's speech to a crowd in Detroit,
two months before the March on
Washington D.C.. He reminded
listeners that "injustice anywhere
is a threat to justice everywhere,"
and then rebuked satisfied North-
ern sympathizers, "No community
in this country can boast of clean
hands in the area of brotherhood,"
King came to Detroit - and
marched with labor leaders like
Walter Reuther of the United Auto
Workers - to protest the "subtle
and hidden" discrimination African-
Americans faced in the North, where
racialized realty practices and dis-
criminatory hiring segregated the
"I have a dream this afternoon,"
King said, "that one.day right here in
Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a
house or rent a house anywhere their
money will carry them, and they will
be able to get a job."
We've all seen videos of Bull
Connor's cops beating marchers.
Every civil rights documentary
shows peaceful protesters forced
to the ground by white men with
Most of us haven't seen images of
whites rioting during a 1966 march
for fair housingin Chicago. King was
hit on the head by a thrown brick,
and told reporters, "I think the peo-
ple from Mississippi ought to come to
Chicago to learn how to hate."
The public school curriculum
left out Northern civil rights battles
completely. Perhaps that's because
what King and others were fighting
against - realtors' subtle ways of
keeping non-white homebuyers out
of certain neighborhoods - rarely
produced shocking images like
those caught during the Southern
There is an easy way to tell the
story. Documentarians already have
a story are in the boycotts and march-
es of the 1950s and early 1960s, from
Rosa Parks to the "Dream" speech.
It's an arc full of pathos, replete
with images that challenge viewers
to understand how America has not
always lived up to its ideals.
By ending with the March on
Washington, or with the signing of
the great civil rights laws, the story of
the civil rights movement becomes a
closed narrative of triumph. African
Americans suffered. Then - led by
King - they overcame.
That narrative is incomplete. In
the years after the March on Wash-
ington, King fought with other great
We should be
honest, and teach
the whole story.
If you visited a school in Detroit
today, you would see that de facto
segregation continues to deny
children the opportunities they
deserve. Walking down the city's
empty streets, you would see that
one of King's dreams - that one
day Detroiters could get jobs, never
came to pass.
Teaching the struggle for racial
equality as something that happened
long ago in the South sends a mis-
leading message. This narrative tells
us that the American community has
its legacies. It teaches Northerners to
look down on Southerners for their
intolerance, leaving us blind to the
inequalities that continue to shape
our own communities. We should
be honest with ourselves and teach
the whole story, so that someday, we
- Seth Soderborg can be reached
at email@example.com. Follow him
on Twitter at @thedailyseth.
leaders for fair housing and an end to
de facto discrimination in schools.
That struggle never really came to
an end. After California adopted a
law - now part of the federal code
- that made it illegal to refuse to
sell property to someone on the
basis of the buyer's race, whites
rose up in protest. A year after the
March on Washington, Californians
overturned fair housing by an over-