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James Nastoff, Minneapolis
When talking of values, whose shall apply?
In the Nov. 5 article “R.T. Rybak on the role of values in addressing achievement gaps,” forum participant Peter Bell unintentionally grazed the surface of an important discussion surrounding the unchecked power struggles in our own blue back yard. Bell is not embarking on an earth-shattering sociological discovery when he asserts the cultural norms of young African-Americans; rap music, casual dress and distinct vernacular may indeed impede the group’s success. However, when Bell and Rybak join forces to ask how we can come together as a community to enforce behaviors that will lead to success, I can’t help asking: “Whose model of success?”
I find myself comfortably in concurrence with Bell’s assertion that deeming something “cultural” does not immunize it from critical moral or political consideration, yet I can’t wrap my head around his resolution. How can the solution to closing the achievement gap be to mold the minority into the paradigm of the culturally incompetent majority that created the gap in the first place?
Zoe Illies, St. Louis Park
Soil should always be part of the discussion
The Interior Secretary, during a visit to Minnesota, touted the value of conservation (Nov. 6). I was pleased to see “conservation” used in the headline, but sadly, it did not include the modifier “soil.” Perhaps this is because soil conservation is more in the Department of Agriculture than the Department of the Interior.
Yes, National Wildlife Refuges are an important part of our national economy and add to our quality of life; however, they are a small portion of the picture when it comes to food security. Soil is the key to life on this planet — the foundation for all terrestrial ecosystems. We must understand soils’ roles in food and energy security, water protection, climate change adaptation and mitigation, ecological and economic sustainability, biotechnology for human health and slowing of desertification. We need a master conservation plan with emphasis on carbon management. Carbon is a critical part of our Earth’s natural cycles. In soil, it helps sustain plant growth and nurture crops.
The soil is so important to all of us. We must ask if we are doing enough to preserve and protect it for future generations.
Don Reicosky, Morris, Minn.
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.