Every parent wants what is best for their child. That’s why the new models proposed by the Minneapolis Public Schools and the overall question of how to make MPS work for all kids is such a challenging question (“Mpls. school district’s restructuring plans draw fire,” Feb. 12). For a number of families and schools, the current system is working just fine, and so there is little personal incentive to change it. However, the overall poor academic outcomes of students in MPS, the achievement gap between kids of color and white kids and the financial troubles of the district all demand that something must change. I applaud MPS leaders for realizing that the current structure cannot continue, and I applaud them for putting forth proposals that aim to improve the public school system that currently does not serve all children equally.
At the districtwide listening session I attended last week at Bethune Community School, it was remarkable to see the map showing the location of magnet schools, the majority of which are in the southern half of the city. In the current model, kids who live in the northern half of the city have the greater burden of travel to these schools that have special academic concentrations. That is just one example of how little by little and over time, inequities have been built into our public school system.
It’s reasonable that for families who are part of a school that works, they want to keep it as is. But I want schools that work for all students. As a mother of two MPS students and as a former preschool teacher, I know that kids are resilient. I believe that kids can handle a school change, probably better than the adults in their lives. Kids can handle the change of going to a new school, one in their community and one with resources and support equal to other schools. In fact, for those who are claiming the new MPS models will be “disruptive” to so many students and families, consider that some may want and need disruption, especially if it results in more equitable education and outcomes for all.
Nicki Hines, Minneapolis
• • •
Few observers of the educational scene in the Twin Cities are as perceptive as Katherine Kersten (“Constitutional amendment will hurt, not help,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 12). Her erudite analysis of the constitutional amendment by Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari and former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page that would make a “quality” education a “fundamental right” in the state of Minnesota exposes it for what it is: a bid — albeit a well-meaning one, perhaps — for more judicial control over schools in a misguided attempt “to shrink the stubborn racial learning gap.”
Never once in my long career teaching young people at both high schools and colleges have I once detected any correlation between race and academic achievement. Indeed, quite the contrary. Currently, the two highest percentages in a very demanding Advanced Placement course I teach are being earned by the sons of African immigrants, who come from intact and supportive families.
What I have learned from teaching thousands of students over the years is that young men and women learn best when their learning takes place in a disciplined and well-regulated classroom where the teacher is institutionally empowered, the master of his or her subject and fully in charge. I believe that all students, regardless of economic background or race, deserve such an environment in which to learn, and I can think of no better way to end racial disparities in education. Indeed, our nation depends upon it. But no amount of fine words in an ill-considered constitutional amendment will bring this about. It will only make matters worse.
Bernard Carpenter, Chanhassen
But we already have reduced rides
In reading “Metro Transit pledges more cops” (front page, Feb. 13), the comments by the Twin Cities Transit Riders Union supporting universal riding for free had me online seeking more information. I found the Transit Assistance Program — in which low-income riders can ride for a low-cost, reasonable fee of $1, as long as you show the TAP card. While I remain skeptical that totally free riding is a viable solution, I am also incredulous Metro Transit and the Star Tribune don’t do a lot more aimed at dramatically increasing the population’s usage of TAP.
Jim Cox, Circle Pines
Don’t knock door-to-door politics
In an appalling commentary dated Feb. 12, Thomas Hemphill states that door-knocking for a political candidate is an ineffective and overpriced political practice (“The high cost, low efficacy of door-to-door,” Feb. 13). His conclusion is based on his and his fellow students’ experience of door-knocking in Iowa for presidential candidates. He could not be more wrong, and my conclusion is based on hundreds of hours of door-knocking with many local political candidates. Two real-life examples:
In 2018, the Democratic Party flipped the Minnesota House by winning 18 seats. Every one of those winning candidates door-knocked thousands of houses in his or her district. If you ask them (and I have), they will tell you that door-knocking was essential to their victory.
In the middle of January, I spent six hours door-knocking for Sen. Amy Klobuchar in Marshalltown, Iowa. I door-knocked on about 300 houses, spoke to about 50 people, found that half were undecided and had meaningful conversations with all the undecided voters. I convinced a few people to caucus for Klobuchar. Since I’m a volunteer, this cost the campaign nothing.
Every local campaign from city council to state representative/senator desperately needs volunteers to door-knock. I hope the Star Tribune has not discouraged people from door-knocking for candidates by publicizing this misleading article from an inexperienced student.
Jerry Gale, Brooklyn Park
Let’s see how that ‘lesson’ sunk in
Republican senators expressed confidence the president would learn a lesson from his impeachment and change his behavior in the aftermath. Let’s see how that’s worked out ...
He held a celebration ceremony at the White House in which he used his presidential platform to punish his enemies, praise his friends and declare victory.
He fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (and his twin brother) as well as Gordon Sondland, the former ambassador to the European Union, in retribution after Vindman and Sondland did their duty and testified in the House impeachment investigation (“Trump’s shameful firing of Vindman,” editorial, Feb. 11).
The Justice Department has established an official channel to deal with information about Joe and Hunter Biden, collected by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani (“Giuliani’s info to be vetted, Barr says,” Feb. 11).
His Twitter demands over allegedly harsh sentencing recommendations for his friend and felon Roger Stone (guilty of obstructing a congressional inquiry, lying under oath and witness tampering) led political appointees in the Justice Department to demand softer penalties (“President praises Barr for ‘taking charge,’ ” Feb. 13). The entire team of career prosecutors left the case or quit their jobs as a result of the political meddling in the justice system.
Yup, he’s learned his lesson and changed his behavior, all right.
Dave Pederson, Minnestrista
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.