Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

May 28, 2015 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Tonya Allen, president and CEO
of the Skillman Foundation,
John Rakolta Jr., CEO of Wal-
bridge and Sandy Baruah, presi-
dent and CEO of the Detroit
Regional Chamber composed
the panel “The Choice is Ours:
Road to Fixing Detroit’s Strug-
gling Schools Begins in Detroit.”
This panel discussed poten-
tial solutions to educational
challenges in Michigan. On
Wednesday May 27, this discus-
sion kicked off the first full day
of the Mackinac Policy Confer-
ence on Mackinac Island. The
panelists spoke bluntly and pas-
sionately about the current state
of Detroit schools and Michigan
schools as they outlined the rec-
ommendations that their group,
the Coalition for the Future of

posed for remedying Detroit’s


panelist Rakol-
ta’s voice shook


about the lack
of educational


situation to be
a crisis.

“How much more proof do we

need that we are failing our chil-
dren?” asked Rakolta.

The frankness of the panel

came as a surprise and chal-
lenged my preconceived notions
of the conference. It’s hard, after
all, to take a policy conference
seriously as a legitimate source
of discussion, debate and prog-
ress when it feels so much like
an elitist schmoozefest. Times
between events and meals seem
to be reserved for making con-
nections with other successful,
wealthy people who can afford
to spend the week on Macki-

nac Island. The hefty price tag
(onsite prices for registration
at the conference are $2,150 for
Chamber members and $2,925
for future members), means that
there’s undoubtedly a lack of
socioeconomic diversity repre-
sented at the conference. A quick
scan of the guest list shows an
abundance of politicians, law-
yers, businessmen and journal-
ists — other fields are clearly
underrepresented. Furthermore,
a multitude of corporate spon-
sors and thus intertwined politi-
cal and corporate agendas, made
me question how deep these
discussions and speeches would
be allowed to go. How effective
can a policy conference be when
it only has certain perspectives
and is limited in depth?

Yet, at the panel on educa-

tional issues in Michigan and

Detroit, the
spoke genu-
inely, if not

gling people



frankly about his anger at leg-
islators in Lansing for failing to
fund education for our children
properly and then failing to take
responsibility. The moderator,
Mary Kramer, even encouraged
attendees to look for the legisla-
tors at the conference and talk to
them about the issue.

This goes to show the power of

the conference to enact change
by informing and educating citi-
zens about important issues and
putting them in an environment
where they can easily access
their legislators and voice their
concerns. Despite the fact that
the panel was led by CEOs, I

found its members spoke about
these issues after having spent
ample time discussing them
with people directly affected by
them. Furthermore, they didn’t
shy away from controversial dis-
cussions, and they encouraged
action from their audience. If the
rest of the conference continues
in this direction, it can be a pow-
erful force for change.


is still cost-inhibitive. It can
encourage dialogue and civic
action, but only amongst those
who can afford to attend. It con-
nects citizens with legislators
but only those privileged enough
to be able to shell out over two
grand to simply attend the con-
ference. It can talk seriously and
genuinely about problems facing
certain communities and groups
but without really including
their voices in the discussion.

When asked by the Daily

how he thought the conference
was going, Sen. Gary Peters

together, share ideas and it’s
very productive.”

Which it is. The conference

might be elitist, but it’s pro-
ductive. The event is going to
tackle major issues in the next
few days, such as diversity and
equity. These are important
topics to discuss and having
these discussions can bring
about real, positive change. If
the panel on education set the
tone for the rest of the confer-
ence, it will be an informational
and powerful week of policy
discussions. However, it would
be an altogether more produc-
tive, democratic, informative
and change-inducing confer-
ence if there were more people
of different backgrounds com-
ing together and more ideas
being shared.

Mary Kate Winn is the

Senior Editorial Page Editor.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com OPINION


Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor and viewpoints.
Letters should be fewer than 300 words while viewpoints should
be 550-850 words. Send the writer’s full name and University

affiliation to melikaye@umich.edu.

aren’t too cool for helmets. I won-
der if they ever were.

About half of the time the dock

is unusable because it’s already
occupied by the rowing team.
They are also adorned in less
than — perhaps the word is com-
fortable — apparel. I roll the toes
of my bare feet. We are trekking
across the grass now to the wood-
en bench just behind the rower’s
dock. I step on a rock, and the pain
feels right.

Here, I have front row seats to

the object of
my desire: the


ripple pull at
the strings of
my heart. The
light from the
sun bounces off
of its surface
and spins into
my eyes, like
a ping-pong serve from your best
friend. It would be offensive to
wear sunglasses in front of a beam
like this.

I pull out the notebook I bought

from Walgreens for $1.50. I have
a brief moment of contemplation
over whether or not I should feel
guilty for shopping there. I’m not
sure what kind of behavior I’m
above. I move on. The thought
feels like a loose end.

I want to become a better writ-

er. I’m not really sure how one
does so, but I assume that if I keep
trying new exercises and tech-
niques then something will hap-
pen sooner or later.

Today I start a list. At the top I

write, “100 ways to describe the
Huron River.”

The first five are: 1) It’s like

when you’re at the Big House, and
they put a giant American flag over
an entire section. Thousands of
people push their hands and fin-

gers up against the bottom of it.
These are those ripples. 2) It flows
like the treadmill at your parent’s
house that your dad’s trying to get
in shape on. 3) It — like anyone else
— has obstacles: rocks, branches
and rapids. 4) In the beginning God
made the Huron, and it was good.
5) At the bottom of the Huron is
the Devil’s treasure. Let’s stay here
and float — me and you.

It can be discouraging when

your descriptions always turn into
bad, semi-romantic song lyrics. I

figure I’ve got
to write it out
of me: let it
flow like the





stranger for a
random word,

timer on somebody’s iPhone for
however many minutes you want
to go — be it five, seven or 10 min-
utes — and then write continu-
ously for the duration. It makes
you write. So often it’s easy to
pretend you’re working on a col-
umn in your head. Put it down
on paper. Read it out loud to your
friends. Know yourself.

The most recent free write

we did was based on the word
“grumpy.” A very close friend of
mine wrote how she was lying in
bed this morning feeling irritable,
feeling grumpy. That is, until she
received a text from us asking
if she felt like hanging out at the
Huron. Five hours later it was
another perfect Ann Arbor day.

It’s summertime in A2. Where’s

your hangout spot? What are you
up to?

— Elijah Sparkman can be

reached at esspa@umich.edu.

A schmoozefest for change

E-mail RachEl at Rdawson@umich.Edu

“How much more

proof do we need that

we are failing our


It can be discouraging

when your

descriptions always
turn into bad, semi-
romantic song lyrics.

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan