Letters: Other views on gas tax, free college, art

The Detroit News
AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are up about 4 cents from a week ago to about $2.52 per gallon.

EV owners get gas tax break

I remain curious about the gas tax as it is blatantly unfair to support electric vehicles and punish those using internal combustion engines. Note that Macron tried this in France and the residents didn’t respond well. 

If Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is interested in a fair allocation or a fair way to provide funding for highway renewal, then all should pay their fair share.

We should be ready to consider a tax on miles driven, which will equally tax those with electric cars/internal combustion vehicles and trucks and buses. So far the Democrats have agendas that don’t fairly spread the cost of rebuilding our roads.

John Morrow

Grosse Pointe Woods

Reasons why community colleges struggle

I share Ingrid Jacques' skepticism ("Money alone won't lead to more grads," March 12) about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's funding proposals for public higher education in Michigan.  Regarding the one about free community college, it's already that way for those who need it to be free. 

Last time I checked, need-based Pell grants (derived from federal funds) were nearly $6,000 per year compared with annual community college costs ranging from $2,500 to $4,000 for tuition, fees, books, and supplies. For those who don't need it to be free, it's motivational to have some skin in the game, especially if you are no longer enjoying your parents' largesse. Adults applying their own money show up for class and get their work done.

It's no mystery why University of Michigan students, the best-prepared in the state coming from college-educated parents averaging $100,000 yearly income, graduate at much higher rates than community college students. Reasons for low rates of the latter include:

  • Open admission for anyone who can benefit, regardless of past academic performance.
  • Consequent enrollment of many in remedial courses, where they get bogged down and discouraged before even starting to earn college-level credits.
  • High percentage of part-time students (grad rates being computed by how many finish by 150 percent of the "normal" period to attain a degree or certificate).
  • For many students, no intention to graduate but merely to accumulate credits for transfer to a university. 

This is not to make excuses but instead to underscore the special mission of community colleges, which have provided a leg up to so many and much of the vocational skills training our governor correctly emphasizes. And yes, they can and should do better.  

Olin Joynton 

president emeritus, Alpena Community College (views are the author's own and don't represent any official position of the college) 

Detroit Institute of Arts brings Asian culture and history to life

Last weekend, the Detroit Institute of Arts celebrated Hinamatsuri, also known as Japanese Girls’ Day. This showcase of traditional arts and modern Japanese culture included a Hina doll display and a modern Kimono fashion show.

As a DIA board member, I am proud to see the museum bring to life these cultural experiences that can’t be found in books, on TV or online. The more than 5,000 people who visited the DIA March 2-3 had the opportunity to watch a tea ceremony and a calligraphy demonstration, and experience live music performances by a Japanese band that uses a mix of traditional Taiko drums and western instruments including drums, keyboard, bass and the koto, a Japanese stringed musical instrument. People also learned how to make origami and Japanese sweet pancakes, and how to play the koto.

These events were made possible by the DIA’s community partnerships with the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit, the Japan Culture Development, the Japan Business Society of Detroit and the DIA’s auxiliary Friends of Asian Arts and Culture.

I hope you visit the DIA to see for yourself how fortunate we are to have a cultural institution of this magnitude in our community. General museum admission is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents.

Takashi Omitsu, executive adviser  

Japan Business Society of Detroit

Detroit Institute of Arts board member