Readers Write (March 18): Brodkorb, Bruininks, beet farmers, Kersten, stadium

  • Updated: March 17, 2012 - 4:35 PM

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Brodkorb suit

It's easy to spot irony in Senate's state of affairs


Fired state Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb's strategy of suing the Republican-controlled Senate for gender discrimination is an ironic but perhaps inevitable development in the ongoing saga of the family-values party ("Capitol affairs are in the crosshairs," March 16).

Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman's adamant refusal to negotiate a settlement creates a risk that more details of hitherto unreported relationships may emerge from the depositions. It seems a well-paid white male whose job was to dig up dirt on political opponents got sacked by another well-paid white male for getting it on with a married leader of the Republican Party.

This is the same party that would deny equal treatment under the law for GLBT couples. This is the same party that would deny contraceptive coverage to women in the name of religious freedom. This is the same party that would destroy labor unions and drive down wages for working women (and men) in the name of job growth. Go get 'em, Michael.


• • •

I wonder if Brodkorb wishes he were a union member instead of an at-will employee? If he were union, he would have had someone to represent him in a grievance process instead of having to file a public lawsuit.


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Bruininks' legacy

Quit knocking one of U's visionary leaders


Robert Bruininks was a great president who led the University of Minnesota firmly through some very turbulent economic times ("Bruininks steered funds to his new U post," March 8).

Rather than leaving the state for the soft landings that many former presidents chose, he decided to stay at the U as a faculty member and continue to do what he has done well over more than 30 years: Build programs that serve the state and students.

As a faculty member, he raised millions of dollars in federal and private funding to create the foremost research and outreach center for disabled children and adults in the country. He also continued to build programs that create enduring public value as president.

The Star Tribune's recent coverage suggests that he would be feeding from the public trough, but his final personnel decisions were consistent with the practices of other public universities for long-serving senior administrators who return to the faculty.

We're fortunate Bruininks will remain in our state.


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Beet farmers

Union-busting tactics are part of the story, too


The story about the sugar growers' attempts to keep federal price protections would probably be less rosy if the writer had noted that American Crystal Sugar, though adept at spreading campaign contributions around, has also locked out its union employees ("Beet farmers lobby to keep U.S. protections," March 11).

In the past, one of the voices supporting continuing price supports has been organized labor, but it's hard to believe that labor will care about supporting the interests of union busters.


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Katherine Kersten

She's in denial about white privilege, schools


I agree with Katherine Kersten that the achievement gap between black and white children in Minnesota is a catastrophe ("Running the wrong way on learning gap," March 11).

However, she wrongly blames black families, saying the gap is caused by "broken families, low parental educational attainment, and poor parental nurturing."

I've attended the Pacific Education Group (PEG) training that Kersten condemns. In quoting a few isolated points out of context, she misses the message that the educational experience is different for whites and blacks in this country.

Glacier Hills Elementary School of Arts and Science in Eagan has a student population that's 46 percent minority, with 26 percent receiving free and reduced lunch.

After three years of working with PEG and implementing other research-based strategies, the gap between black and white students there who are proficient on state reading tests has dropped from 35.2 percent to 6.4 percent. We should be replicating this school's success.


• • •

Kersten's argument that cultural competence is "ideological nonsense" ignores historical events that have contributed to white privilege in this country. Being white has allowed us access to resources unavailable to nonwhites.

Native Americans and blacks were excluded from voting -- fewer than 60 years ago. Blacks weren't even allowed to attend the same schools as white children.

This institutionalized lack of equal access to resources, often manifested in the form of poverty, is a major factor in broken families, lack of education and poor nurturing skills -- the family risk factors identified. It's easy to be complacent in that denial.

Because education is a requirement for American children, teachers play an integral role in ensuring learning is equally accessible to all students. How can this be accomplished if they only know how to teach white children?


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The Metrodome, too, was once the future


Thirty years ago, we were told that a new Vikings stadium was going to benefit Minneapolis and the state by bringing in revenue. Well, where is it? In fact, the Metrodome has been a drain.

The Vikings can continue to play in the Dome while they upgrade it or build a new stadium that they pay for. Taxpayers have more pressing issues. When it comes to the stadium, we should not make the same mistake we did three decades ago.


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