The July 18 article "A new wedge issue in campaign" claimed that "critical race theory is not being taught in Minnesota's K-12 classrooms." To give only three examples, however: In late June, Minnesota Public Radio reported on critical race theory in the Pequot Lakes Public Schools; in September 2020, MinnPost reported on educators in the St. Paul Public Schools embracing the term, and a week ago, a commentary by a social studies teacher appeared in the Star Tribune, laying out in detail how he brings critical race theory to the classroom.
Advocates of CRT often play a shell game, dubbing their efforts "equity training programs" or "anti-racism efforts" and then accusing anyone who points out that this is textbook critical race theory of misunderstanding the issue.
CRT holds that institutions, particularly "legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Educators across Minnesota proudly admit to teaching these ideas in classrooms. No wonder it has created such a furor among Minnesotans.
Christians believe in a better way forward, accepting the Gospel's claim that we are "all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). This is incompatible with the "gospel" of critical race theory, which states that our identity as members of oppressed or oppressing groups is totalizing and ineluctable.
Moses Bratrud, Minneapolis
The writer is director of communications for the Minnesota Family Council.
Jeff Niedenthal, a consultant advocating for Republicans to make critical race theory a wedge issue, states that the curricula doesn't explicitly purport the theory. So to find it, he says, "what you have to do is peel the onion back four or five layers." So, basically, he looks until he can make up a case to support his desire to create a wedge issue where none exists.
Chuck Bye, St. Paul
Pay concerns can't be solved with a single option
The discussion about subminimum wages at sheltered workshops, Readers Write, July 18, responding to "Unequal pay for disabled will end" (front page, July 11), is one that needs to be looked at from all sides.
One of the readers who responded made a great point about the need to keep the subminimum wage as an option. I would prefer to call it "commensurate pay." I am guardian for our grandson who is very similar to how the letter writer describes his son. Another letter writer, citing her brother's drop in pay, also had a point. However, she must understand that there are many different levels of disabilities, and that there must be options for all of them in the work force. If her brother saw a significant drop in pay when going from an hourly wage to piecework pay, there was something wrong with the rate used by the workshop. The rate should be based on a standard with a nondisabled person doing the job. If that nondisabled person can assemble 100 widgets in an hour, and is paid $20 an hour, then why can't a disabled person do the same 100 widgets for the same $20 regardless of how long it takes? If that person can do the work in an hour, then fine, but if his abilities are such that it takes two hours, then $10 an hour would be the pay rate. That would take into account level of disability, and it would be the same pay for the same amount of productivity.
I would ask people to investigate the situation in states that have eliminated subminimum-wage workshops to see how many of the displaced workers are now working in a competitive employment for minimum wage, and how many are now sitting home watching videos or going to a program that is nothing more than adult day care. The article by Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres on July 11 stated that 57% of adults with developmental disabilities had a job with income. I am guessing that a large portion of that was subminimum. That number will go down significantly when the subminimum wage is gone.
The fact is that there's a segment of the population that will never command a minimum wage, even with supports. For most of the disabled people at the workshops, the pay is not what is important. As the first July 18 letter writer said, the "social and psychological benefits" are great.
Can we have a "commensurate pay" option with decent oversight? We need both options.
Eugene Rossum, Starbuck
The Arc Minnesota celebrates the establishment of a task force to phase out subminimum wage.
All individuals who have disabilities — no matter their support needs — deserve to explore and retain jobs that provide fulfillment and help build wealth. To do so, we must:
• Pay livable wages.
• Promote customized jobs.
• Create inclusive workplaces.
• Build partnerships with Minnesota's business community.
When people who have disabilities are included in a diverse workforce, the return on investment is real. National research shows that companies leading in inclusive employment had, on average, twice the net income, 28% higher revenue and 30% higher profit margins. This should be compelling for business owners striving to fill gaps in their workforce, who could build on disabled individuals' unique skills for their talent pool.
It is time to respect people who have disabilities for their contributions to our workforce, economy and society. We must honor their wholeness and inherent value. At The Arc Minnesota, we are working to build a movement that raises awareness about the strength, resilience and capacity of people who have disabilities. Disability is part of the diverse human experience, in which many people find their power — not in spite of it.
Phasing out subminimum wage is just the beginning and must be layered within broader efforts to realize disability justice.
Andrea Zuber, St. Paul
The writer is CEO of The Arc Minnesota, a nonprofit organization.
EXCESS TOILET PAPER
There are people, you know, who could use a donation
We probably can't imagine how many of our neighbors must rely on food shelves for their family's survival.Some are lucky if they can get one roll of toilet paper during their monthly visit. How can it be said "we have more than we likely need?" ("From sought-after to surplus," Variety, July 18.)
Instead of making spitballs (as mentioned in the accompanying article about how to use up stockpiles accumulated during the pandemic), why not suggest donating those extra rolls for people who really need it?A missed opportunity to scatter a bit of kindness.
Karen Kitchel, Eagan
EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION REPORT
Who actually does the work vs. who gets the monetary reward
It was interesting to note in the July 18 Business section that four of the top 10 Minnesota "non-CEO" salaries were UnitedHealth Group executives. Their total compensation was listed as $69,972,060. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an RN in Minnesota earns on average $80,960. Those four executives' salaries could pay for an additional 864 RNs. I wonder how many of those four executives were available at 2 a.m. to help "prone" COVID patients in the ICU?
Dr. David A. Plut, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired anesthesiologist.
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