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I just finished reading "Cellphone policies put to test in schools" in the Star Tribune's April 22 edition. It was hard to finish the entire article without smiling as I read each successive paragraph on the benefits and outcomes of separating schoolchildren from their phones during school. If only all the problems that we face as a society were this easy to solve. I'm not sure why this behavior would be allowed in the first place.

I have talked with a relative who works in the school system, and he stated that parents tend to be the bigger problem with the cellphone issue. Parents believe they need to be able to reach their children at anytime, anywhere. My answer: If the parent truly has an emergency and needs to talk with their child immediately, the school can provide a number that is monitored, and they can leave a message. The school will track down the child and they can call back within minutes.

Otherwise, put those phones away. They are a great tool if used properly. Right now we are raising our children to be dependent on these attention-grabbers. They are missing out on learning critical pro-social interaction skills with their teachers and other students. I couldn't say it better than the author Jonathan Haidt, "All children deserve schools that will help them learn, cultivate deep friendships and develop into mentally healthy young adults."

To the schools that have already made the change, I say, "Great job." To the others, "What are you waiting for?"

Tim Rubash, Apple Valley


I nearly cried with joy after reading Laura Yuen's column "Let's get kids off screens and onto playing fields" (April 21) and then this morning seeing the article "Cellphone policies put to test in schools." I have followed author Jonathan Haidt's work for a number of years, and his new book, "The Anxious Generation" (referenced in the column and the article) contains compelling and urgent information on child development and mental health — and the clear and devastating effects of cellphone/social media use, along with overprotecting kids.

The great thing is that addressing this does not involve spending money on new programs to create these new social norms for the well-being of our kids. If groups of parents, as in Yuen's experience, all start to band together to delay cellphone use and encourage more independence — and schools set strict no-phone policies that are enforced, along with creating more time and opportunity for free play — we will have given this next generation of kids the gift of better mental health, better social skills and better preparation for adulthood — and all without needing more costly programs! I would urge anyone who cares about children to read Haidt's book. We owe it to children to follow the science and let them flourish!

Cindy Smith, Edina


Welcome to Mpls. car repair!

We can all celebrate the new look of the Lake Harriet Bandshell. However, as the thousands of guests drive to enjoy the music at this historic place, they will drive past the beautiful rose garden on a rumble strip that resembles the Oregon Trail with its endless need for pothole repair.

We have now been residents of South Minneapolis for 30 years, and during that time we have been embarrassed by the long-overdue need for a resurfacing of Lake Harriet Parkway. As I investigated why this has not happened I discovered that it is an overlapping jurisdiction between Minneapolis Public Works and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and so once again we are stuck with the pothole brigade.

However, I do have a suggested solution. Ask the mayor of Minneapolis to slowly drive the entire counterclockwise circle of Lake Harriet Parkway and then hold accountable whatever jurisdictions and budgets to get this embarrassment resurfaced.

The mayor may need an emergency visit to the dentist if he drives the parkway above the posted 20-mph speed limit.

Glen T. Wheeler, Minneapolis


Tricky, tragic situations

I volunteered as a guardian ad litem in the juvenile court system. I worked with one family for four years in which the children had been removed from the parent for physical abuse. This was the second time the children had been removed for physical abuse, and the family had no stable income and had moved frequently. During the four years of separation, the parent pleaded guilty to the abuse and the case was prolonged because of the failure to cooperate with the plan to reunify. It was only after the parent cooperated with the court-ordered plan that the children were returned, but this was unusually prolonged.

The desire by the court to reunify the family was so great that breaking parole, two assaults and the actions of the uncooperative parent were ignored. Also not considered by the court was that the children were flourishing in foster care, and the foster parents wanted to adopt all of the children. The children's behavior had greatly improved, they had social groups in the neighborhood and school and greatly improved scholastically.

With reunification, there is always a risk of the return of physical abuse, but the children are also sentenced to food insecurity, lack of stable housing and educational opportunities. Returning the children to the parent returns them to this cycle ("For this legislator, action targeting child abuse is intensely personal," Opinion Exchange, April 19). The best interests of the children would have been adoption by the foster family under which they had flourished. Hopefully, the Legislature will reform the current system in a way that benefits the children.

Mark Odland, Edina


Read alongside the Star Tribune's 2023 "In Harm's Way" report, Jessie Van Berkel's investigation into racial disparities in child protection ("Child protection and race," April 21) should produce whiplash in those trying to understand which produces more harm: removal or family reunification? Safety of children is paramount. Support to maintain children at risk in their homes is vital, too. The truth is there is no binary choice. We have to stand in both places, and that's why this complex and emotionally fraught system's problems appear intractable. But they can't be.

As a foster parent and former director of an independent guardian ad litem program, representing 1,000 children, I watched the political pendulum swing between parental and children's rights. I did good work, and I made mistakes — one that sent a child home to be raped by the mother's boyfriend. And I have regrets. Why the racial disparities? It's not unlike my experience with women in jail, only there because they couldn't make bail, didn't have a safety net or money to get them out. Real-time white supremacy is at work in both.

One Sunday, as I walked with my choir down the aisle of a cathedral in the city, the back rows on that frigid morning were filled with our unhoused neighbors. One voice rang out. "Miss Mary, that's Miss Mary." I turned to see a former client who had aged out of the system and had no family now. However you measure success, this wasn't it.

Do better, Minnesota. You must.

Mary Zabawa Taylor, Minneapolis


Keep up the good reporting

Acclaim and appreciation for the investigative reporters who obtained through data requests two stories on law enforcement misconduct, both featured on the front page Saturday morning ("Probe: MPD's watchdog abusive" and "Workers' comp paid bill for ex-sheriff"). Shining light on dark secrets is necessary to eradicate corruption, and your determined reporters are like a modern Diogenes, seeking truth. Our policing must be reformed, and doggedly revealing bad conduct continues to force change. Please keep requesting public data and reporting it.

Shannon Leigh, Minneapolis