Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 15, 2005

Katrina brought sense of racial awareness

"Racism still alive, they just be concealing it." I thought this lyric from the mouth of the infamous Kanye West would be a well-placed piston to get our cerebral cylinders turning on the oh-so-familiar topic of race relations in America.

Every so often, an event of catastrophic proportions pushes the racial envelope into the forefront of our daily lives. No I'm not talking about a random occurrence. I'm talking about a young black male being shot 12 times by two white officers while unarmed or a classaction lawsuit against a major food chain citing racial discrimination. I'm talking about Emett Till, the Rodney King beating and now our modern-day deviant - Hurricane Katrina.

These very images of racial injustice that the news exploit to get ratings, the politicians use to get political leverage and the average citizen eagerly await to get swept under the rug so they can get back to their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

So where does this leave us on a whole as a country? Have we become so self-absorbed that our minds can't fathom anything further than our own trivial daily routines? True, in times such as these the average American drops off some clothes to Goodwill or puts an extra $5 bill in the collection plate on Sunday, but does our civic hospitality extend any further?

I wonder: Had Katrina not rendered thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, would Americans be donating funds and sending prayers on behalf of an impoverished people? Would the educational system, poverty level and matriculation of government funds in these destitute areas ever have been brought into question? Would every single station be bombarding us with images of neighborhood streets that the vast majority of people in this great nation would have never walked?

John Strong
media arts junior

Learning rights will deter police abuse

In light of several personal experiences in the past two weeks as well as what I've heard in the Arizona Daily Wildcat recently I would like to remind any students on this campus (though I doubt any out there are so ignorant as to not know this) that the police are not your friends and are not here to help you. From what I've read in the Wildcat about the incident at Kappa Sig, the Tucson Police Department's actions are completely inexcusable. One need only to read the facts presented to have a hard time keeping down their lunch.

While the police are a fact of life and we can't get rid of them, we as students can do things to make the situation better. Do research! Learn your rights! Most of the time, police will try to intimidate you into believing you have to tell them more than you actually do. Explicitly tell them that you don't consent to searches of your residence or personal property. Be sure to know how you can prevent them from having the right to do so (because they'd like you to think that they always do).

Tom Mosby
psychology junior

Students, not teachers, responsible for education

After reading Kara Karlson's column in the Arizona Daily Wildcat ("Want your own reality show? Teach in Arizona"), I had to shake my head in disappointment. Arizona's schools are failing, that is true, but to start blaming teachers for that is irresponsible.

I attended a public high school in Mesa, but we did not videotape our teachers. School administrators did sit in on classes, but it was not frequent. And yet, my school has some of the best teachers in the state.

Student progress is influenced by how well a teacher can teach, that is true. But a large percentage of student accomplishment stems from the student. A fabulous teacher can still fail students if they choose not to attend class, do their homework or study for tests. Seeking help when they are struggling is also key. All of my teachers were available for help before and after school, at lunch and even during prep hours. Rarely did I ever see students in there besides those who did well anyway.

Education is something you have to work to obtain. Until students are self-motivated, all of the state reform for certification will be for naught. The state's education problems are complex; there is no quick-fix solution. Many things are contributing to our state's failing grade: lack of parent involvement, low teacher salaries, as well as the increasing number of students who do not speak English (yet are receiving education in English). These issues must all be addressed rather than simply laying blame at the feet of one group of people, addressing only one issue and calling it "the perfect solution."

Janne Perona
biochemistry and molecular biophysics sophomore

Publishers sensitive to students' concerns

Katie Paulson's recent column about textbooks ("Ending the trials of textbook tyranny") failed to recognize that the primary purpose of a textbook is education. The purchase of these highly advanced educational tools, like a tuition payment, is an investment in learning and the future. 

Students do not expect to re-sell their classroom instruction, nor do they anticipate reselling their clothes or their cell phones to make money. Why then should the value of a textbook be degraded if it cannot be resold?

Contrary to Ms. Paulson's criticisms, the publishing industry is designed around students' needs. Publishers invest money to create educational materials that improve student success. Faculties then make textbook decisions based on what tools will best help their students succeed. The vast majority of costs needed to develop a single textbook, which can total more than $1 million, are intellectual costs; paper, ink and cardboard are incidental when compared to the cost of content.

Also, publishers are sensitive to students' concerns about the cost of higher education and have responded to price concerns by expanding the number of lower-cost texts, including electronic books, black-and-white editions, custom books and abbreviated editions, which they offer to faculty. Recently, the market for lower-cost products has grown significantly, with the average textbook costing $52.36, according to the National Association of College Stores. 

A recent GAO report concluded, "as teaching and learning have changed with increasing reliance on technology, the college textbook has evolved from a standalone text to include a variety of ancillary products designed to enhance the educational experience for instructors and students." And "publishers are assuming roles that have traditionally belonged to postsecondary institutions."

Publishers have shown the foresight, taken the risks and made the investments to support America's colleges and universities and help to hold down the soaring price of tuition. A check of the facts proves that today's textbooks are a heck of a bargain and are created by faculty and publishers to meet the diverse needs of today's students.

Stacy Scarazzo
Association of American Publishers