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June 04, 1997 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-06-04

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, June 4, 1997
Edited and managed by ERIN MARSH JACK SCHILLACI
students at the +w tt.Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan
Unrless otherwise noted, unsr.ignred editoriarls reflect the opainiton o .
420 Maynard Street majority o the Dai 'seditorial board. All other articles, ltersr. an
Ann Arbor, M I48109 0 ar)o USrdonot iecessa reeet the opinion ofTrhe Aichigan Daily

L ike every school system, the Ann
Arbor Public School District has dis-
cipline problems. One common solution
- out-of-school suspension - recently
came under fire by the Equity Audit
Committee formed by the Ann Arbor
School Board. Their main concerns come
from disparate suspension rates among
different racial groups. In 1995-96, there
were 18.7 suspensions per 100 African-
American students while only 3.8 per 100
white students went home for unscheduled
vacations.
According to EAC, the reasons behind
different suspension rates goes beyond
simple misbehavior among African-
American students. The committee points
to a perceived inclination among the pre-
dominately white teachers and administra-
tors to treat minorities differently than
whites. Furthermore, it suggests the dis-
trict's staff also exhibits condescending
behavior toward the parents of minorities,
perpetuating negative stereotypes.
Taken as a whole, these attitudes create

Bridgethe gap
Schools must examine suspension policy

an environment in which minority children
are more likely to face suspension than
their white counterparts, even for similar
offenses. During the 1995-96 school year,
51 percent of all middle- and high-school
suspensions in the district went to African-
American students.
At the same time, there is a large
achievement gap between white and
minority students in the school system as
measured by standardized test scores and
GPAs. EAC accuses the school district's
disciplinary policies and suspension prac-
tices with exacerbating the achievement
difference between races.
Ample evidence exists showing a
strong correlation between attendance and
achievement in the classroom. Sending a
child home therefore necessarily disrupts

an education. If the suspended student is
troubled - perhaps most in need of the
education - or a minority student, sus-
pension can be a damaging and hurtful
cycle. On one hand, teachers remove a stu-
dent from the classroom setting for their
unwillingness to obey the rules. While
some may argue that the suspensions are
warranted because suspended students
could disrupt others' education, out-of-
school suspension may cause students to
feel alienated from the educational envi-
ronment. By sending offenders home,
administrators deny the suspended the
chance to learn - further limiting their
educational opportunities.
As minorities are suspended at a far
greater rate than white students, their
grades and performance on standardized

tests suffer, as a group. Thus, the achieve
ment gap grows.
In an effort to combat the problemt
EAC made a number of suggestiont
Foremost, the school district needs t
explore alternative disciplinary act*
such as in-school suspensions - allowin
students to attend classes while servin
out their punishment. Making anger rese
lution and conflict-resolution course
available to disruptive, suspended student
could also reduce the need to forcibl
remove them from the educational atmos
phere. EAC also recommended teacher
undergo diversity training, to allow mor
sensitivity toward minority students an(
parents.
The school district should heed to
recommendations and take a long har(
look at their disciplinary policies. Facet
with enormous budget cuts, the distric
may not be able to implement all of EAC'
ideas. However, the district cannot afforc
to continue using policies that create
more problems than they solve.

Sign me up
Center offers volunteers valuable services

A nn Arbor is a haven for people who
like spending their leisure hours
helping those less fortunate, working for
their favorite political causes or cleaning
up the highway. Numerous volunteer
opportunities abound throughout the city,
offering residents and students the chance
to enrich the community through work
done gratis. The Washtenaw United Way's
Volunteer Action Center served as a cen-
tral clearinghouse for nonprofit agencies
where city residents could find a place to
spend their volunteer hours. However, the
center closed earlier this year due to a
lack of funding - causing volunteers and
nonprofit agencies to lose a valuable
resource.
The Ann Arbor Community
Foundation recently doled out $16,000 to
fund a study of volunteer centers across
the state and create a program to supplant
the United Way's Center. The grant was
part of more than $150,000 given to vari-
ous community organizations to support
volunteerism. The Nonprofit Enterprise at
Work took over some of the center's func-
tions after it closed but only "... on the
most basic level," as stated by Judith
Cawhorn, NEW's director of develop-
ment. NEW will conduct the study to
design a replacement for the center - it
should ensure that all volunteers have
easy access to agencies that need their
help.
Volunteers provide a unique and valu-
able service. They contribute to the com-
munity's well-being while providing
themselves with a feeling of satisfaction.
With volunteers working in soup
kitchens and nursing homes, among
other places, they also work to help soci-
ety deal with many problems.

Furthermore, they save taxpayers money
by preventing additional government
investment in many areas.
The city should support volunteerism
as it contributes greatly to the communi-
ty. Beside offering the- city free labor
toward community projects, volunteering
also promotes a feeling of community.
Volunteers feel a strong attachment to
their neighborhoods because they invest
their time and energy into them. The city
should support the creation of a volunteer
clearinghouse as it pays the city back in
the form of a strong, cohesive communi-
ty.
University students are known for their
volunteerism efforts. A significant por-
tion of the student population regularly
spends time helping others out through
numerous on- and off-campus programs.
A volunteer clearinghouse could provide
students with a valuable service to help
guide them toward volunteer activities
that may interest them. In addition, small-
er nonprofit agencies that do not have a
sufficient staff or volunteer workforce
could utilize such a service to help attract
new people to their regiments. Replacing
the center is an effective way to help pro-
mote volunteerism that contributes great-
ly to the community.
It behooves the city to support pro-
grams that provide it with work done on
city problems and a more cohesive com-
munity. Volunteerism provides many peo-
ple with a way to spend their free time
while gaining personal satisfaction that
they contributed to the good of their com-
munity. NEW should create a replacement
for the United Way's Center soon to ensure
that all potential volunteers have a place to
spend their time.

Smoking gun
Kelley could regain Medicaid dollars
A long with more than 20 of his coun- ward with a confession that nicotine wa
terparts, Michigan Attorney General addictive - a first in the tobacco indus
Frank Kelley has trained his cannons on try.
the wobbling tobacco industry, seeking to The Surgeon General's warning - oi
recoup damages to the state's Medicaid all tobacco products for more than 2
bills. In his original lawsuit, Kelley sought years - informs people of the har u
to have tobacco companies recompense and addictive qualities that tobacco
the state for approximately $4 billion for ucts possess. However, the tobacco indus
past and future medical-care bills related try never admitted to the health conse
to smoking-induced cancers and illnesses quences smoking can cause instea
among low-income state residents. In defending itself from those who migh
addition, Kelley asked for $10 billion in besmirch the Marlboro Man - a ridicu
punitive damages. If successful, Kelley's lous idea that puts the bottom line befor
suit could set a good precedent by damag- consumers' health.
ing the tobacco industry's insistence that Armed with the Liggett Group's con
smoking is not a health risk. fession and information gathered by th
Last week, the lawsuit arrived in Food and Drug Administration durin r
Ingham County Circuit Court. Judge mer attacks on the tobacco industry
Lawrence Glazer struck down the punitive numerous state attorneys general presse
damages clause along with various cases against tobacco companies. Most,
antitrust allegations. However, Glazer including Kelley, seek monetary damages
established a strong precedent by allowing for costs incurred by states in caring fo
the tobacco industry's failure to admit to tobacco's low-income victims. While
the health hazards of smoking can lead to smokers' health problems result from a
legal action against them by the state. voluntary act, the state should work to
The battle over tobacco has fermented recover financial damages resulting from
for many years. Individuals have tried to high Medicaid bills caused by the tobacco
sue giant tobacco corporations, such as industry's products.
Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, for Should Kelley win, the tobacco in s-
large health-care bills caused by their try would have to confess to the health
smoking habits. In most cases, tobacco dangers involved with smoking. In addi-
companies, backed by an impressive array tion, it would set up educational programs
of lawyers, won by using the same argu- that would help inform state residents
ments plaintiffs used to defend their habit about those dangers. A victory by Kelley
for many years - that the act of smoking would help all state residents. His lawsuit
is an exercise of a person's free will. Some would help compensate the state's coffers
plaintiffs won minor victories but tobacco and holds much promise to force the
companies never budged from their offi- tobacco industry into admission of the
cial belief that nicotine is not addictive consequences associated with smokir9-
and that tobacco has not been fully proven he must pursue it to ensure that the tobac-
to cause cancer - until earlier this year. co industry faces penalties for its repeated
In March, the Liggett Group came for- denial.

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