The Oakland Press, Dec. 9
State should approach education reform with caution,
Is the sky falling or, as a great playwright once said, is it simply a case of "much ado about nothing?"
One thing is certain. Proposed changes in Michigan's K-12 education system have sparked controversy, and we think for good reason.
Some proposals come from the conservative Oxford Foundation at the request of Gov. Rick Snyder. Others are part of the Educational Achievement Authority, created to take over the lowest-performing schools in Michigan.
Combined, the proposals essentially throw out K-12 education as we know it. District boundaries would be a thing of the past. Students could attend classes in practically any school. More online classes would be available. For-profit and so-called charter schools would compete for students while receiving tax dollars.
Would any of these things achieve the primary goal of improving the education of our youngsters?
We're not sure.
And we're pretty sure no one else is either.
But opinions are aplenty.
Oakland School Superintendent Vickie Markavitch, in a podcast to parents, refers to the proposals as an "un-American" attempt by "profiteers" to take over the education of Michigan students.
Robert Livernois, superintendent of Warren Consolidate Schools who wrote parents a letter, labels the proposals a "dangerous and radical experiment in education."
We can understand resistance to change. We also realize the current structure of K-12 education has flaws. Taxes vary from district to district and there are far too many small school districts that could be merged to save administrative costs.
But reorganizing or altering K-12 education is not something to be done by a lame duck legislature in less than a month.
If the future of K-12 education is going to be improved, the process will take time.
Snyder and the state Legislature, with input from educators, should make K-12 reform a priority in 2013.
MLive.com, Dec. 6
It's up to the adults in a child's life, teachers and parents included, to teach appropriate fashion
"There's no place for sexy at school."
Those words spoken recently by Frankenmuth High School principal JoLynn Clark are certainly attention grabbing. But they also bring up an issue that high schools have faced for decades — ever-changing fashion trends that may not be appropriate for a learning environment.
Clark was referring to the most recent trend of leggings, a tight spandex material, being worn as pants, violating the school's dress code. Call them leggings, jeggings, yoga pants or Spandex, tight-fitting athletic wear is perfectly appropriate for exercise. When a student is exercising her mind in academia, however, there are more respectful and less distracting clothing choices that will serve just fine.
School's have been battling fashion for as long as most people can remember, from miniskirts in the 1970s to Daisy Duke short shorts in the 1980s, to mini dresses in the 1990s.
The question, however, remains: Whose responsibility is it to make sure teens are dressed appropriately? Schools have largely taken on the burden, with dress codes and sending special messages to students and parents on what is and isn't school appropriate.
We believe these lessons need to start at home. Parents should be closely monitoring how their children dress, and teaching them what is appropriate. School dress codes should be required reading at home.
With that being said, we know that not every child has a stable home environment — and some of the parents may need lessons of their own on how to dress — so the school's play an important role in teaching these lessons.
As Principal Clark said: "The world is tough enough for young women without making it harder on ourselves. . Really think about what message your clothes are sending."
And she's right. When these students graduate and move onto the real world, leggings, sweatpants and ripped jeans aren't going to cut it in a job interview. They need to be taught that now.
We're all for freedom of expression and youths who explore different sides of their selves through fashion. But sometimes, it's up to the adults in teens' lives to save them from their crimes of fashion.
The Michigan Daily (Ann Arbor), Nov. 26
Stem cell support needed
Four years ago, Michigan made an important step forward for science. The state passed Proposal 2, a 2008 ballot proposal, and ended the 30-year ban on embryonic stem cell line usage in Michigan. However, little progress has been made since then, as the state has not garnered the funding necessary to support these projects. Now Michigan is falling well behind the rest of the country and is stuck looking for ways to revive a depressed economy. Michigan and the University must make stem cell research a top priority, and allow it to jump-start the science economy.
In comparison to other states, Michigan has lagged behind in fundraising for stem cell research. Even after Proposal 2's passage, Michigan has been slow to enact any significant changes due to a lack of interest from private investors. According to the Detroit Free Press, California provides $300 million yearly for stem cell research, and Ohio has been providing millions for similar research. California has gone further, adding $1.6 billion in new investments, which generates about 2,739 jobs annually.
Despite Michigan's fundraising obstacles, the University has continued to be a leader in stem cell research. Since 2009, the University has made several significant strides. The National Institutes of Health added the stem cell line UM4-6 to its registry, along with two others that are pending NIH approval. Michigan must continue to be a leader, particularly since the state hasn't received significant funding. As one of the world's largest research institutions, the University must help lead the state to its goals for stem cell research.
Evidently, with the vote in 2008, Michigan residents support stem cell research. However, the state needs to supplement the University's efforts to innovate. The state must make a stronger effort to support stem cell research. The University performs research in embryonic, adult and reprogrammed cells and has developed eight lines of stem cells. The school's embryonic stem cell research may lead to more effective treatments for diseases such as juvenile diabetes, heart failure, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries.
Four years ago, Michigan made its voice heard, but the state did not respond. With one of the largest research institutions in its backyard, it's time for Gov. Rick Snyder to bring Michigan back into the stem cell research conversation. Improving stem cell research will have significant scientific benefits and improve the state's economic status for many years to come.
The Mining Journal (Marquette), Dec. 10
Changing recall language makes a lot of sense
After years of complaints, the State Legislature is finally getting around to considering changes to the state law that governs recall elections.
The Associated Press reported recently that a committee of the State House of Representatives has approved a handful of bills that would make it more difficult to recall elected officials, something The Mining Journal has long advocated. The House Redistricting and Elections Committee has approved the following:
Another proposed change calls for a challenger to compete for the office against the official up for recall, AP stated.
Although no one believes corrupt, inept or otherwise bad elected officials should be retained in office, the recall elections we've seen in this area have, it could be argued, created as many problems as they solved. They divide communities and even families, inflicting wounds that take years to heal. And very often the elected official's overall record is ignored and one specific issue - even one specific vote - is the focus.
Recall elections often draw just a small percentage of voters when compared to the election that put the official in office in the first place, giving an inordinate amount of power to a relatively small number of people. And complicating matters even further is the leeway the current law allows on recall language. Presently, the allegations and claims on a recall petition don't have to be true, even in small part, to end up on a ballot. They just need to be clearly stated.
That's just not right.
The Mining Journal will withhold its endorsement of this bill or bills until something comes before the full House for a vote. It's unclear when, or if, that will happen. But we hope it goes. Changes are badly needed in Michigan's recall law. And the work by the House Redistricting and Elections Committee seems, if nothing else, like good first steps.