The Sept. 19 commentary by Francis X. Shen missed the point when it emphasized the need for mayoral control of the Minneapolis school system. The system is not in dire straits. There’s no strong evidence that it is failing. What is problematic is the achievement gap between white students and students of color. Nowhere in his article did Shen address this problem or explain how mayoral control would remedy it.
RICHARD MASUR, Minneapolis
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Why we still need ‘political correctness’
Harvey Mackay, in reviewing Larry Winget’s new book (Sept. 16), suggested that he admires Winget’s resistance to “political correctness,” starting with the title of the book: “Grow a Pair: How to Stop Being a Victim and Take Back Your Life, Your Business, and Your Sanity.”
In the book, Winget suggests it is sophomoric to assume that “growing a pair” has anything to do with body parts or masculine vs. feminine traits. “Get your giggles out of the way,” he says, “and then let’s talk about what growing a pair really means.”
We hate to stand in the way of giggles or of bluntly stated business advice. But both Mackay and Winget are wrong about the phrase “grow a pair.”
No matter how many times they reassure us that “lots of women … have a pair bigger than most men can ever hope to have,” the phrase retains its gender connotations. We can’t hear it used without being reminded of stereotypes — including the idea that men, not women, are the ones with “gumption,” who avoid “being a victim and [take] control of [their] lives.”
When business authorities like Mackay and Winget use the phrase, they heighten the risk of gender discrimination arising out of stereotypical thinking — what scientists call “cognitive bias.” All giggles aside: Can we find another way to express ourselves — one that still manages to be blunt without being biased?
JILL GAULDING, St. Paul
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That’s what we call successful outreach
On July 31, I visited Minneapolis for the first time. As I exited a freeway searching for my friends’ address, I discovered that I was lost. I was riding a motorcycle and had the back open searching for the appropriate map when a police officer stopped and asked if I needed some help. I responded, “Yes, sir, I sure do.” I was all turned around!
The officer immediately looked on his GPS and gave me precise and accurate directions. Where I live, we get a lot of visitors, and I only hope that our police are as courteous and friendly as that officer was. If they are all like this officer, Minneapolis needs to be proud of its police officers.
WAYNE LIPPS, Napa, Calif.
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The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.