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July 02, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-07-02

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Edited and managed by JACQUELYN NIXON AUBREY HENRETTY
Students at the JACtEo n AUBfEd H Editor
University of Michigan +B++ Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
420 MUnless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of th
420 M ay nard Street majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters a
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Da

Amidst heated affirmative action
court cases, debates and rallies
across the country, a new key
player has emerg ed. President George
W.B ush recently nominated former
Center for New Black Leadership presi-
dent Gerald A. Reynolds to head the
Department of Education's Office of
Civil Rights.
The Center of New Black Leadership-
is a nonprofit, Washington-based organ-
ization which advocates a conservative
stance on civil rights issues. Reynolds
has also served as counsel to the Center
for Equal Opportunity, a Washington-
based organzation that also has a histo-
ry of attacking affirmative action. The
EO's website maintains that affirma-
tive action is often abused by wealthy
minorities or used as an excuse to fire
otherwise qualified white employees.
Given Reynolds' backgroun propo-
nents of affirmative action are not
pleased with his nomination. The OCR
is a division of the Department of Edu-
cation that enforces laws pertaining to
discrimination in America's public
schools and universities. Reynolds flat-

Dieversity in jeopardy
Reynolds poor choice to head OCR

out disagrees with the means by which
affirmative action promotes equality of
opportunity. He and other conservatives
feel the current system of quotas and
set-asides for minorities may succeed in
creating diversity, but it fails signifi-
cantly when it comes to promoting the
best interests of minorities.
In a public statement on the subject,
Reynolds said that "beneficiaries of
affirmative action [in its current mani-
festation] are unable to learn what the
real world standards are. The bottom
line is-that only excellence will do."
Reynolds fails to realize there are
many factors that contribute to "excel-
lence" in a learning environment. In
order to come to terms with the "world's
real standards," students must learn to
work alongside others from racial and
socioeconomic backgrounds different

from their own.
It seems peculiar that someone who
disagrees with affirmative action poli-
cies has been nominated to enforce
those very policies.
However, Reynolds' nomination is
consistent with Bush's stance on affir-
mative action. As governor of Texas,
Bush did away with quotas for minori-
ties in the state's public universities and
replaced them with a policy that guar-
antees all high school graduates in the
top 10 percent of their classes admis-
sion into the state's public university
system.
Until his Senate confirmation hear-
ings, Reynolds avoided making public
statements. However, his anti-affirma-
tive action background speaks for itself;
with Reynolds heading the Department
of Education's OCR, the future of diver-

sity on college campuses hangs in thi
balance.
Reynolds has stated that a mor
effective means of addressing problem;
of equal opportunity would be to alloy"
school choice. He maintains that racia
quotas and set-asides at the post-second
ary level would not be needed if chd
dren in poorer school districts we
given an opportunity to choose to atteni
better schools in neighboring suburbs.
While this would supposedly rescu<
disadvantaged children from poverty
school choice fails to address the man3
problems that cause these socioeconom-
ic conditions to exist and does no
attempt to fix them; this further neglec
of substandard schools could prove dis
asterous in the long run.
While Bush's choice to nominati
Reynolds is not surprising given the t
men's similar takes on affirmati
action, it is disappointing that ou
nation's highest authorities - those tha
have the power to ensure diverse learn
ing environments for all - would givi
so little consideration such an importan
program as affirmative action.

ranish "gwetlands
Bush, Sr.'s environmental plan all wet

W hen most land developers think
of wetlands, they envision unat-
tractive swamps better suited to
condominium development than to alli-
gator breeding. But wetlands occupy a
unique and important position in the
global ecosystem; not only do they
house many interesting species of
plants and animals, but they have also
proven effective in controlling pollution
and floods in the areas that surround
them.
Former President George Bush prob-
ably realized wetlands' important eco-
logical roles in 1989, when he instituted
the "no net loss" plan to conserve the
areas. The plan - in operation since
1993 - mandates that for every acre of
wetlands a given developer destroys, he
or she must construct 1.8 new acres of
wetlands elsewhere. Ideally, the plan
would allow construction to continue
while preventing any "net loss" of
scarce wetlands.
It sounded great on paper.
But a recent study by the National
Academy of Sciences reminds us that
when something sounds too good to be
true, it probably is. With a lack of
enforcement, funds and manpower,
compliance with this decade-old plan
has been poor at best. In order to ensure
that we don't lose an invaluable portion
of the ecosystem, the United States
Army Corps of Engineers - the organ-
ization responsible for issuing permits
to developers and enforcing the plan -
needs more discretion and more money.
And who better to provide this than
President George W. Bush, the son of
the program's implementer?
While the original President Bush
promised "no net loss" of wetlands, The
NAS report indicates that this promise
has not been fulfilled. Along with a
May report from the General Account-
ing Office, it points to internal prob-

lems in the Corps of Engineers respon-
sible for approving projects involving
wetlands destruction. Without the
resources to make the correct decisions
and track the results, the Corps has
often failed to confirm that developers
actually rebuilt the requisite 1.8 acres.
But the wetlands problem extends
beyond mere numbers. When wetlands
are artificially constructed, the benefits
they may provide pale in comparison
with those of the original wetlands.
According to the NAS, the new wet-
lands fail to control pollution or floods
or to support wildlife nearly as well as
the naturally-occurring variety.
When developers move to re-build
wetlands, they often fail to consider
extenuating environmental conditions;
former President Bush's plan does not
require them to do so. Under the plan, it
is be perfectly acceptable to build the
1.8 acres of replacement wetland any-
where developers can find an extra 1.8
acres of land. It is essentially worthless
to build a patch of wetland, say, next to
a city; industrial fumes, harmful chemi-
cals and even certain types of fertilizers
can easily upset the wetland's balance
of life. If the standards remain this low,
U.S. wetlands will soon become things
of the past.
If the Corps of Engineers was
afforded ample funding and adequate
power, it could better ensure that devel-
opers did not continue to deplete the
ever-shrinking wetlands in the United
States. Developers could be made to
provide quality land in return for the
opportunity to develop on the surround-
ings they desire. George W. Bush, who
campaigned as an environmentally
friendly president yet shown himself to
be anything but eco-friendly, would be
wise to make this a first step in making
the United States more ecologically
sound.

inor imp
Well-intentioned bil
n a solid 59-36 vote, the U.S. Senate
decided Friday to pass the latest
form of the long-debated patients'
bill of rights. While the bill - current-
ly awaiting consideration by the House
- would make some necessary
changes to the U.S. health care system,
legislators should not consider it a mir-
acle cure; passing it would be a small
step forward in a seriously flawed sys-
tem.
Among the most disputed facets of
the bill in the Senate was the question
of whether or not patients should be
able to sue their Health Maintenance
Organizations over benefits. In the end,
senators decided to allow this. Under
the bill, patients can take their HMOs
to state court over coverage denials if
they have medical evidence that said
denials negatively affected their health.
In addition, most patients could sue in
federal courts over contractual and
other non-medical issues.
The majority then answered the
minority's concerns that the measure
would flood the courts with frivolous
lawsuits, thus driving up insurance pre-
miums - concerns also voiced by
President Bush - by voting unani-
mously to require patients to exhaust all
possible avenues of appeal before
attempting to sue. All in all, allowing
such lawsuits would be a positive
change. HMOs, like individual doctors,
should be held responsible for decisions
that affect patients' health and well-
being. If they act negligently, they
should be ready to accept the conse-
quences and change their behavior in
the future.
Another commendable change to the
status quo proposed in the bill would
guarantee patients medical care in the
nearest hospital whether or not it was
affiliated with their HMO. This move
would be a welcome change for the

Hrove ent
.1 won't cure system
many HMO patients currently forced to
travel significant distances to hospitals
officially tied to their insurance plans.
Under the current system, many
doctors are not supposed to inform
their patients of any treatments not
covered by their HMOs. Should the
patients' bill of rights be passed, doc-
tors would be permitted to discuss *
possible forms of treatment - even
those not covered by their patients'
health plans - thus enabling patients
to make well-informed decisions about
their health.
The patients' bill of rights would
also guarantee all insured patients
access to emergency treatments and
certain medical specialists. For
instance, women would be able to s
gynecologists of their choice and pa
ents could choose their childen's pedia-
tricians.
All of the aforementioned changes
would improve coverage for insured
Americans; the New York Times esti-
mates that the bill would cover "almost
all of the 231 million Americans with
health insurance from any source."
This would be no small achievement
and for that, the bill's supporters should
be praised. However, legislators should
not use the passage of this bill as
excuse to neglect health care reform
bills in the near future. They must not
forget that more than 42 million Ameri-
cans do not currently have health insur-
ance and would not reap the benefits of
this bill.
The House should pass this bill and
President Bush should sign it into law,
but with the understanding that the
improvements it promises are onl
postponing the inevitable. Everyon
insured or not, deserves quality, afford-
able health care; those in power should
make it a priority to ensure that every-
one gets it.

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