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July 28, 1993 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1993-07-28

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4- The Michgan Daily Summer Weekly -Wednesday, July 28, 1993

C- I r chtgan,+1tl!
OPNIN,

EDITOR IN CHIEF
Hope Calati
OPINION EDITORS
Sam Goodstein
Flint Wainess

Unsigned editorials present the opinion of a
majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other
cartoons, signed articles and letters do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of the Daily.

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
76-DAILY
Edited and Managed by
Students at the
University of Michigan

0

Once again Michigan's children have been
used as pawns in the gubernatorial chess
game.Of course, whenStateSen.andgubernato-
rial candidate Debbie Stabenow dared congres-
sional Republicans to cut state property taxes in
Draconian proportions last week, she was sup-
posedly attempting to force the state to find anew
way to finance public schools. An admirable and
neededgoal.ButwhileStabenow'spoliticalchutz-
pah is impressive, the slashing of $5.6 billion in
propertytaxeswasfiscallyirresponsibleandleaves
the Engler administration and Michigan's con-
servative legislature virtually free reign to create
a new system of financing schools. The result
could be disastrous.
Many state senators, along with both the
DetroitNewsandFree Press,havenoted that any
new system of funding public schools would be
more equitable than the status quo-astatus quo
which allows, for instance, Bloomfield Hills
schoolstoreceivealmosttwice asmuchper-pupil
spending as Ypsilanti schools.'There are several
gaping holesinthisargumentthough.First,"more
equitable" is subjective. It is not unlikely that a

Cutting choice
Property tax cut leaves Michigan schools in limbo

new system could be one of school choice, or the
voucher system where parents can send their
children to any school in the district. This could
be, quite possibly, the worst happening in the
history of the state of Michigan. A system of
schooltchoice would lead to socio-economic and
racial segregation on an unprecedented scale, the
exactantithesisofequality.Conservativesloveto
call competition the great healer, but it is not.
Competitive schools will simply leave behind
children of unmotivated parents and allow the
privileged to segregate their children. The segre-
gation phenomenon can be witnessed anywhere
school choice is currently allowed. Just look at
Bloomfield HillsSchools,consideredexemplary.
After school choice was initiated, many parents
yanked their children out of Andover and into

Lahser. Last year a Free Press article quoted
many Lahser parents as saying the reason was to
get away from the large Jewish population at
Andover. This is merely a microcosm of the
problems school choice will foster.
The other problem with the tax cut is that the
govemor and the legislature could simply vastly
reduce the amount of money schools receive.
While it is true that more money does not neces-
sarily mean better schools, taking money away
from schools willsurely provideirreparable dam-
age to already underfunded schools. And don't
assume that decreased funding will simply be for
affluentdistricts.The poormay also getless.This
will not force schools to be more fiscally respon-
sible, it will simply force them to provide less
services for Michigan's schoolchildren

We understand that Stabenow was desperate
to stop using property taxes as a means for
funding schools. After all, the neighborhood
school has been one of the primary tools for the
affluent and the political class tohold the poorand
minorities down in the post-Brown v. Board of
Ed. era. But Engler and Michigan's current legis-
lature are far from the ones that have presented
ideas to fix the current system. Where is the talk
of tax-based sharing? Where is the talk of equity
and faimess? It seems to have been lost in the
debate. Before we can work on making our
schools more competitive in the changing global
economy, we must get back to basics. Before we
worry about where schools spend their money,
we need to make sure that - on the basest level
- schools receive equitable funding.
We once said that if Proposal A didn't pass,
Engler would railroad property tax cuts through
anyway. The only difference would be that he
would leave the schools in limbo. We were
wrong. Engler didn't have to do the railroading,
Stabenow did it for him. The voters of Michigan
will surely remember that on election day.

I
I

Joint oppression
"New" gays in the military policy still unfair

Joycelyn Elders
Nominee for Surgeon General victim of ignorance

4

'dictably, President Clinton has backed
down on his campaign promise to allow
gays to openly serve in the military. Succumbing
topressure from the JointChiefsofStaffandSen.
SamNunn(D-Ga.),chairmanof the SenateArmed
Services Committee, the president endorsed a
"don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy. This
policy will allow gays to serve in the military, as
long as nobody is conscious of the fact that they
aregay andaslong as they takeavow of celibacy.
Besides being oppressive, this policy does not
create any improvement for the disgruntled, and
closeted, gays serving the United States.
Candidate Clinton promised to allow gays to
openly serve in the military and gays contributed
millions of dollars to his campaign. However
PresidentClintonhasopenlyshunnedthem,leav-
ing proponents of equality for all hopelessly
wondering what went wrong.
The entire gays in the military fiasco typifies
thestrugglesthatClinton'syoungadministration
has endured. From the inception, administration
officials lacked the courage to step up the pres-
sure on Congress, and the president refused to
enact an executive order forcing the military to
stop the discrimination. Clinton claimed an ex-
ecutive order would alienate key members of
Congress, members whose votes he needed to
pass his budget. Somehow, Clinton hasrmanaged
to use the pending budget vote as an excuse for
notpressing Congressonopening the doorstoour
military.Ofcourse,notallof the faultlieswith the
President. Sen. Nunn has proven to be a colossal
thorn in the sidle of proponents of gays openly
serving, continuously threatening to derail other
legislation if the administration pressed the issue.
Of course, no discussion of this issue would
be complete without mention of the Joint Chiefs
and their backward ways. Leading the cry that
homosexuals would disrupt morale and threaten
nationalsecurity,they managed topotray homo-
sexualityas wrong andbackwards.Furthermore,
in light of the fact that all but one of our industri-
alized allies allow homosexuals to openly serve,

the whining of the Joint Chiefs makes the United
States appear foolish.
All of this is old news, of course. Gays have
been discriminated against in the military for
decades and the new policy will change very
little. Instead of asking incoming troops about
their sexual orientation, the military will not
inquire. However, as soon as they get an inkling
of an idea that a soldier is gay, that person is
doomed to be discharged. Furthermore, the new
policy is rife with ambiguities. For instance, a
servicemember can hang out ina gay bar, but if
they are seen holding hands in a gay bar, they are
faced with the "rebuttable presumption"that they
are not practicing celibacy. Furthermore,
servicemembers are strictly prohibited from dis-
playing their sexuality off-base as well. This is
absurd, and leaves us to wonder why hetero-
sexual servicemembers are allowed to display
their sexuality off base. Ironically, we have a
military that has a nasty track record of men
sexually degrading women (the Tailhook inci-
dent comes to mind), and instead of cracking
down on this issue, it further oppress homosexu-
als.
What makes the Joint Chiefs conduct almost
laughable is the fact that they ordered two studies
on the feasability of gays openly serving in the
military, and completely ignored, and will not
even release, the one that states that gays would
not threaten national security if allowed to serve.
Ultimatelythepresidentmustacceptthe blame
for this entire disaster. Like a nasty cloud, it
hovered over the first six months of his adminis-
tration, and like an inept leader he failed to quell
the storm. He did face pressure from the military
and members of Congress, however he told the
nation, during the campaign, that he couldnever
accept the oppression that gays face in the mili-
tary and would do everything in his power to
change it.
Heclearlydidnotdoeverythinginhispower,
and once again, instead of change, Washington
has left us with a status quo of inequality.

gain?
Yes, the Clinton administration is again
embroiled in a controversy over a presidential
appointee. The person under fue this time is
Clinton'sSurgeonGeneralnominee,Dr.Joycelyn
Elders. As she began her confirmation hearings
last week, conservatives were up in arms, object-
ing toher"radical"viewsregarding health educa-
tion and digging up every smear they could find
- from allegations of financial misconduct to
herhusband's failure topay SocialSecurity taxes
on an employee - in an attempt to derail her
confirmation.
First, let us recognize what the real issues are
here. The allegations regarding finances, Social
Security and any other supposed misconduct are
nothing but a smokescreen, a way for opponents
todrag herdown withoutputting theirenergy into
a true ideological debate. The real issues are
Elders's supposedly "radical" and "dangerous"
ideas: supportforabortionrights,publiclyfunded
family planning, broad-based sex education and
contraceptive distribution in schools. While con-
servatives would have us believe that even one of
these would lead to a breakdown in the moral
healthof the United States, in truth they add up to
amore sensible health policy than this nation has
seen in years.
As ahealth specialist, Elders has said repeat-
edly that she wishes abortion were unnecessary
- a view which most abortion opponents un-
doubtedly share. Yet, unlike her opponents, she
realizes that the only way to make abortion less
necessary is to provide adequate family planning
informationandcontraceptive devices-even to
those unable to pay for them. Many abhor this
idea, feeling that their tax dollars shouldnothave
to pay for contraception in which they do not
themselvesbelieve.Yet theonly alternative is the
rising rate of unwanted pregnancies among im-
poverished women and, consequently, a higher
rate of abortions.
However, the real heart of the Elders opposi-
tionisnotfocusedonabortionorevenonnublicly

funded family planning. It focuses on her views
onsex education, which favoranapproach begin-
ning atkindergartenand culminating with condom
distribution in high schools. Conservatives de-
nounce these views as radical -but they simply
deal in reality. They are necessary.
Opponents of sex education claim that to
educate schoolchildren about sexual activity will
only encourage them to engage in it. Yet let us
consider that in today's world an estimated 70
percentofhigh schoolseniorsaresexually active.
These students need no encouragement - with
or without education, they are going to continue
to have sex. Once we understand that, the ques-
tion becomes only one of common sense. At this
moment, teenage pregnancy rates are higher in
the United States than in any other industrialized
country. At this moment, an epidemic of AIDS is
raging, withnoendinsight.Those whothink that
to educate is to encourage, who repeat "absti-
nence"asthoughiftheysayitenoughtimesitwill
come true, are burying their heads in the sand
while the real world goes on around them. The
government must confront the fact of teenage
sexuality, and deal with it as frankly and safely as
possible. There is very little we can teach teenag-
ers about abstinence -they realize it exists, and
will decide for themselves whether ornotitis the
correct choice. We can, however, teach them a
great deal about caution, about prevention, and
about responsibility. The chances that teenagers
will listen to adults are much greater if the teens
are treated as intelligent human beings, rather
than as little children who cannot make decisions
for themselves.
Dr. Elders recognizes this. She is a voice of
leadership, workingnotforsomemythical"moral
value" but rather for individuals' well-being.
President Clinton should be commended for her
nomination-and must, as he has pledged to do,
stand behind her every step of the way. Elders's
nomination is too important for any political
waffling. Her leadership on health issues is pre-
cisely what this nation needs.

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