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July 07, 1981 - Image 8

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1981-07-07

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Opinion

Page 8
The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCI, No. 34-S
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
.A-Supreme botch
T HERE IS GREAT cause for concern
following the recent Supreme Court ruling
which upholds the all-male draft. We find the
decision contemptible, and feel the campaign
for women's equal rights has been damaged.
The decision, articulated with artful am-
biguity by Justice William Rehnquist, unfor-
tunately concentrates not on the logic of the
issue; but on the "broad constitutional power"
of Congress in military matters. Since "the
Constitution itself requires. such deference to
Congressional choice," according to
Rehnquist, the Supreme Court had better be
darn careful about second-guessing Capitol
Hill. Tough luck, rationality.
With snowballing criticism of the all-
volunteer service, it now appears likely that a
peacetime draft is not far off, making the
Court's decision even more pertinent. But the
need for a draft, as argued by military leaders,
is due to a lack of highly-skilled, educated per-
sonnel to operate the increasingly complex
tools of war. (The government itself
acknowledges that just two-thirds of new
recruits would be required for combat in the
event of war. Others would serve "support"
roles.) . Yet Rehnquist declares that since
women are excluded from combat, Congress
properly decided not to register them. Tough
luck, statistics.
Justice Thurgood Marshall, in the minority
argument, rightly asserts that "Congress has
repeatedly praised the performance of female
members of the armed forces, and has ap-
proved efforts by the armed services to expand
their role." A concurring Justice Byron White
writes: "I perceive little, if any, indication that
Congress itself included that every position in
the military, no matter how far removed from
combat, must be filled with combat-ready
men."
Let's hope that there never will be another
draft - that, of course, is the optimal solution
- but if conscription returns, women should be
included with men. Equal rights between sexes
is a fundamental and imperative goal for our
society, and with equal rights comes equal
duties. The most vocal feminist groups,
crushed by the Supreme Court's decision, have
fervently expressed a desire to face the draft
along with men, and their resentment is
justified.
The ruling impedes the campaign for sexual
equality, and sets a disturbing precedent for
the nonmilitary sector. Tough luck, women.

Tuesday, July 7, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Free enterprise can
save U.S. education

4

By Doug Ne wman
Eduation has always con-
stituted part of the American
dream. We have every right to be
proud of the widespread.
availability of schooling in our,
country. In the minds of many,
public schools are a fundamental
part of the democracy in,
America.
In recent years, though, public
schools have fallen on hard
times. Test scores have fallen
consistently. Parents are less and*
less satisfied with the quality of
education their children are
receiving. Students and teachers:
feel that the classroom environ-
ment is not as conducive to lear-
ning as it could be. They often
fear for their physical safety.
'IN MANY AREAS, including
affluent suburbs and small
towns, public schools are
generally in fine shape. In the in-
ner cities, however, they are in
hideous condition.
The response of the American
people has been a call for more
and more government involven-
ment with education. The tax-
payers have been saddled with
the multibillion-dollar Depar-
tment of Education. No
corresponding improvement in
the quality of public schooling
has resulted from this approach.
All along, very few people have
stopped to ask: "Who says that
our children must attend public
schools?"
President Reagan and manyof
his colleagues have, and are
doing something about it.
Senators Robert Packwood (R-
Ore.) and Daniel Moynihan (D-
NY) have drafted a proposal that
would take $250 off the income
tax bill ($500 in the second year of

the program) of anyone with a
child in private school. Jimmy,
Carter helped defeat a similar
proposal in 1978.
THERE IS currently a
movement in Washington to
place a $1200 tuition tax credit
proposal on the November ballot.
Dr. Milton Friedman of Stan-
ford University 'proposes a
voucher plan. Under such a
scheme the government would
give , parents a certificate
redeemable for the cost of a
child's public school education
which could only be "spent" at a
private school or at another
public school.
THE ISSUE AT hand is
freedom of choice, which is what
this country was founded on. The
way things currently stand, if you
are unhappy with-your (or your
child's) education, and you can-,
not afford to pay private or
parochial school tuition plus the
cost of that empty seat you would
be leaving behind at a public
school, you are out of luck.
Tuition tax credits and school
vouchers constitute a step toward
free choice in education for all
people, regardless of income
bracket.
The _ public education
establishment has looked with
scorn at this encroachment on
their virtual monopoly.They fear
that tax credits and vouchers
could spell the beginning of the
end for public schools. Their
fears are largely unfounded. In
areas where public education is
in good shape, most students will
continue to attend the local public
schools. In fact, the quality of
education in these schools may
well improve due to competition.
Critics of this conservative,
free-market approach to the
problems of education fear that

inner-city children would be left
with nowhere to-turn. It does not
take a great deal of imagination
to envision the market for
private schools that would open
up in the ghettos. When private
schools have been established in
blighted areas, they have often
outperformed the public schools.
Studehts who were previously too
disruptive and costly to teach in
public schools are often more
cooperative and academically
inclinedat privateschools.
STUDENTS AT PRIVATE
schools are attending schools that
they want to attend, not have to
attend. Classes are smaller so
thatstudents receive more in-
dividual attention. Opportunities
for participation in ex-
tracurricular activities are
much greater in a school of 400
students than in one of 3000. In
short, learning is much more en-
joyable when students come
together of their own volition
than out of statist compulsion.
Children deemed to be "gif-
ted" would no longer have to be
bored in public schools. A market
for schools to meet their needs
could open up.
"It is imperative that we
destroy the myth that private
schools are for the elite," says
Senator Packwood.
We must make free choices in
education open to all Americans.
The class issue would remain.
But while a person's income
might limit his options to only two
or three schools, he will no longer
be told by the government, by
people who have no interest in is
personal life, what school his
child must attend, no matter how
bad that school becomes.
Doug Newman is a Univer-
sity student.

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AS CRITICISM GROWS about the deteriorating condition of American public schools, private alter-
natives are gaining support.

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