4A - Monday, April 9, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A -MonayApri 9,201 TheMiciga Daiy -miciganail co
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Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
E-MAIL JEFF AT JEFFDZ@UMICH.EDU
JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ANDREW WEINER
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS
And now, folks, it's time
for the main event!
Unpaid (and illegal) interns
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
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Self-governed schools have potential for Detroit and college students intern-
ing without pay at a non-profit
n the face of massive budget deficits and consistently declining
enrollment, Detroit Public Schools unveiled its next step toward
solvency. Last Wednesday, Roy Roberts, the DPS state-appointed
emergency manager, unveiled the DPS 2012-13 Action Plans, which
include fairly sweeping changes to the system. Besides closing 16
buildings and transferring 15 schools -'those in the bottom 5 percent
for performance - to the state's newly created Educational Achieve-
ment System, the plan gives unparalleled self-governance to 10 well-
performing schools - a "hybrid" system of school and district control.
This aspect of the plan has the potential to empower communities,
provide improved education and play a role in reducing the district's
deficit. The autonomy system is an innovative potential solution to
some of DPS's woes, but self-determination and community involve-
ment must be fostered district-wide.
A five-member board in charge of the major-
ity of available funds, operations and hiring
will control the 10 self-governing schools. The
five-member board is made up of a represen-
tative of parents, a business professional and
three others selected by DPS. The move would
affect about 7,500 students starting in the fall,
according to DPS's website.
The introduction of this self-governing sys-
tem has positive potential by increasing focus
on parents and principals and moving away
from one-size-fits-all mandates. Standardized
measures of control have proven ineffective -
No Child Left Behind comes to mind. Allowing
schools to have increased control gives them
the opportunity to individualize many aspects
specific to their community. Thus, students
are encouraged to stay in their neighborhoods.
The plan is innovative in a-district in desperate
need of innovation. It provides direct input and
accountability for parents, business leaders
and the community.
The selection of five board members -
especially the selection of the business leader
- must be a very careful procedure. It seems
counterintuitive to give the majority of control
to DPS' selections, so these council members
must remain focused on the specific school.
This independence runs the risk of schools'
priorities shifting to business interests and
budgets rather than education.
The parent member of the board is pos-
sibly the most encouraging aspect of the self-
governance plan. Though getting parents to
work with the schools can be difficult, foster-
ing parent involvement and action within their
kid's schooling is vital and has been lacking in
Detroit's public schools. The input of parents
provides an important influence on schools'
operations and is crucial for helping schools
move in the right direction. Allowing parents
to influence schools on a neighborhood-by-
neighborhood basis will provide specific and
DPS must also retain focus on schools
beyond the 10 in the pilot program, and the
Action Plans do address many other hindrances
to students' success. The self-run schools must
sign a performance contract with DPS, adher-
ing to certain provisions including a pledge for
a 99 percent graduation rate. This figure is cur-
rently impossible for many of Detroit's schools.
However, if this system is successful at the
initial 10 schools, aspects of self-governance
should be expanded across the district.
Self-governance is an innovative way to
make schools stand closer with their commu-
nity so students receive better education. At
the same time, the selection of board members
must be thorough to ensure the plan not only
achieves greater specificity, but better educa-
tion and enhanced graduation rates.
vice group last
summer. On a
handful of occa-
sions, the interns
various projects ANDREW
in Detroit. Had WEINER
tion written a
job description, it would have read,
"Do nothing." So, we labored along-
side the volunteers - devoid of any
real responsibility. With little intern
work to do, why did they hire so
Parents have a rosy, innocent pic-
ture of internships in their mind -
painted with tenured professionals
and mentors, invaluable knowledge
and career-enhancing networking
for their children.
Employers, however, increasingly
view internships more nefariously as
free labor. Students, more depress-
ingly, see them as mere points on a
summer internship applications are
typically due, it's not uncommon to
overhear students' remarks along
the lines of, "I'll sweep floors, I'll
get coffee, I'll seduce and poison the
CEO of a competing firm. I don't care
as long as it's an internship."
In today's job market, it's not
difficult to understand this mind-
set. Since 2008, fewer students are
graduating from colleges with jobs
already in hand. A 2011 The New
York Times article reported that
only 56 percent of the class of 2010
had at least one job by spring of the
next year - a drastic drop from 90
percent in 2006. Fear not - it gets
bleaker. Of those employed, only half
of the jobs required degrees.
The pressure to pad your resum6
- that one sheet of paper that acts
as your introduction to potential
employers - is intensifying. For
those who aren't titling themselves
"Nourishment Specialist" for baking
cupcakes for a club, internships are
essentially mandatory. Things aren't
looking cheery - perhaps you'd be
crazy not to jump on an opportunity
to sweep a law firm's floors.
Studies are supporting student's
suspicions. A 1992 study by North-
western University found only 17
percent of students had internship
experience. The National Asso-
ciation of Colleges and Employers
annually surveys 50,000 students
from 559 colleges, including the
University of Michigan. In its 2012
report, they found more than half
of the students "had an internship
or co-op experience." Quite a differ-
ence in 15 years.
Unfortunately, the ratio has shift-
ed toward more unpaid internships
in recent years - about half of those
surveyed by NACE didn't receive
compensation. While some busi-
nesses are struggling alongside the
rest of the country, more are looking
for people to do work for their com-
panies free of charge - extorting
desperation for profit.
The role of interns becoming
unpaid custodians and baristas isn't
new, and is almost institutionalized
in the country. However, unpaid
interns performing these tasks are
technically prohibited under the
Fair Labor Standards Act.
In response to several states
beginning to crack down on abus-
es, in 2010 the U.S. Department of
Labor issued a reminder to employ-
ers, which included the six factors
the department uses to determine
the legality of unpaid internships.
The first four are especially relevant:
the training must be similar to voca-
tional or academic instruction; it
must benefit the intern; the intern
cannot replace a paid employee; and
the employer doesn't receive any
"immediate advantage" from the
If the guidelines were followed
strictly, nearly every unpaid intern-
ship would be in jeopardy, but the
Dept. of Labor regulations seem
illogical. Couldn't an employer pay
an employee to do any task an intern
might perform? Shouldn't the rela-
tionship be mutually beneficial if the
intern excels and contributes new
ideas? Isn't hands-on training more
beneficial than passive observation?
The guidelines were based on a
1947 Supreme Court decision, Wall-
ing v. Portland Terminal Co., and
relate more to blue-collar training.
In effect,they're outdated and there-
violate labor laws.
Regardless, it's unethical for
employers to expect interns to hem-
orrhage thousands of dollars living
in New York or D.C. sweeping floors
in exchange for a resume line. The
steep price tag of unpaid internships
away from home creates a quasi-
elitist system. For many students,
accepting an unpaid position isn't
financially feasible. As a result, those
who can afford them have the resu-
mes to prove it.
Besides increased employer con-
science, universities should be part
of the solution. They should create
more programs like the Universi-
ty's Public Service Intern Program.
PSIP guides students looking for
internships in Washington, D.C.,
and creates blacklists of organiza-
tions past-year's students have had
negative experiences with. Secondly,
to address the increasing number
of unpaid positions, colleges can
increase fellowships to finance an
unpaid experience - -especially
those in the social sciences, where
less funding exists. Most impor-
tantly, colleges need to simplify and
expand means for turning intern-
ships into credit hours.
On top of what colleges can do,
students should weigh the benefits
of speaking up if compensation is
deserved - a risky move to take.
But, I can't imagine I'll bring that
up when my bosses ask me to run to
Starbucks this summer. Cream and
-Andrew Weiner can be reached
at email@example.com. Follow him
on Twitter at @AndrewWeiner.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Kaan Avdan, Eli Cahan, Ashley Griesshammer, Jesse Klein, Patrick Maillet,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
TIM RABB I
Healthpreform must go further
Keep your brain on standby
W hen we were young, the
onset of summer offered
us the chance to "turn
Last week, The Michigan Daily published
an editorial that ended with the telling obser-
vation that the United States spends "more
than any other developed nation" on health
care, yet ranks "37th out of about 191 nations"
in "overall healthcare quality." While the poor
cost-quality ratio of American medical care
is troubling, it's unlikely that the changes
implemented by President Barack Obama's
Affordable Care Act will have maximal effect
without a few added considerations.
For one, the Affordable Care Act doesn't
address the potential savings promised by the
use of comparative effectiveness; research in
the national health care system. Compara-
tive effectiveness refers to a process by which
statisticians compare several forms of treat-
ment for the same illness. Some treatment
methods vary widely in cost yet are strikingly
similar in their ultimate outcomes. A 2009
New Yorker investigative piece focused on the
town of McAllen, Texas, which has the most
expensive healthcare costs in the country. The
article discussed the widespread practice of
"overutilizatin," in which doctors adminis-
ter multiple unnecessary tests - sometimes to
get more money out of a patient, other times
to prevent the slightest possibility of a lawsuit
- that basically amounts to sanctioned fraud.
By "sanctioned," I'm referring to the fact
that our current health care industry is
exploiting our trust in the old maxim "you
get what you pay for." According to the New
Yorker article's primary research, "the more
money Medicare spent per person in a given
state the lower that state's quality ranking
tend(s) tobe." The article also draws from out-
side research to posit that oftentimes, patients
in costlier areas of the country "d(o) no bet-
ter than other patients, whether this was
measured in terms of survival, their ability
to function, or satisfaction with the care they
Since the current healthcare system com-
pensates practitioners under a "fee-for-
service" system rather than with an annual
salary, there's an inherent motivation to test
a patient to death, racking up charges that
have no measurable effect on the outcome of
the treatment method. I never thought I'd say
this, but given these conditions, it's hard not
to equate America's medical practice with its
Though there's a provision in the Afford-
able Care Act for a pilot program that would
address the varying expenses of Medicare
coverage by region, there's no guarantee it'll
catch on as a long-term strategy. Furthermore,
the act does little to eliminate the overhead
costs incurred through the unnecessary medi-
ation of third-party insurance companies.
A single-payer universal healthcare system
would maximize savings, if not by eliminating
wasteful practices, then at least by limitingthe
waste to a single source of healthcare ration-
ing - the federal government.
Obama's healthcare reforms may be a
step in the right direction, but they're not
the long-term solution Americans have been
looking for. It'd be best to view it as a bridge
between the old system and a comprehensive
new one, in which everyone receives treat-
ment relative to their lifestyle choices and
a contribution proportional to their income
level, rationed out by a single pool of health
Tim Rabb is a senior editorial page editor.
off" our brains
for a while.
to a close, the
up and the blue
us to put down
our books, grab
our shades and
for some well-
College is no different. Each year
it's easy to see that students, having
endured a long Michigan winter, are
hungry for some sun.
It's a cruel irony that the nicest
weather of the year comes hand in
hand with the busiest time of the
semester. The temperature rises? It
must be time for midterms. The trees
are flowering on South University?
Finals are just around the corner.
Let's face it. When the sun comes
out, it's easy to put work on the back-
burner. By the time summer break
rolls around, we're ready to take a
break - to "turn off" our brains until
Unfortunately, the arrival of sum-
mer doesn't mean the Earth stops
spinning. The lazy haze that settles
in with the heat doesn't keep politi-
cians from saying crazy things, wars
from being fought or crimes from
In the absence of schoolwork, it's
tempting for students to shut down
their minds. But I'd like to make the
case forkeepingthem switched on -
or, at the very least, on standby.
Here are some topics that will
matter the most this summer:
" The 2012 presidential election
- As Mitt Romney wins the Repub-
lican nomination (I see no scenario
in which that doesn't happen) how
will President Barack Obama per-
form in his bid for re-election? Will
political discourse become any more
Iran - Will Israel preemptively
attack Iranian nuclear facilities?
Will the United States be drawn into
another war in the Middle East?
- European economic crisis - Will
leaders in Europe overcome the con-
tinent's dire economic conditions? A
weak European economy is arguably
one of the greatest threats to Ameri-
can national security.
" Healthcare reform - Will the
Supreme Court uphold the constitu-
tionality of the Affordable Care Act?
" Michigan - Recently, the Dem-
ocrats in the state legislature sued
the GOP for bypassing the consti-
majority needed in order to give
legislation "immediate effect." The
controversy has gained attention in
the national media. For a nice run-
down of the specifics, see MSNBC
host Rachel Maddow's recent seg-
ment on the issue. (Also, don't tell
me that Maddow is the left-wing
equivalent of Fox News. She puts
her own beliefs on display, certain-
These, among other unforeseen
developments, will likely occupy
headlines in the coming months. If
we switch off our brains, will we be
ready to meet the long-term chal-
lenges that these issues present?
Our minds can't operate with-
out rest. Even I, a self-declared
news junkie, need a break from the
absurdity of politics now and then.
But that doesn't make it accept-
able for us to disregard important
developments entirely. During the
summer months, the opposite holds
true: as students, we must keep our
capacity for critical thinking close
at hand. When the sun comes out,
don't stay inside and keep your eyes
glued to the television screen. But
when something newsworthy makes
waves, don't let yourself get caught
Keep tabs on the pulse of politics
- keep your brain on standby. When
we return to campus in the fall,
you'll be glad you did.
- Daniel Chardell can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ly, but that doesn't render her state-
ments inherently false.)
mean the world