Readers Write: (July 9): Mental illness, poverty in Minnesota, guns, school suspensions, high-speed rail, social change, immigration terminology

  • Updated: July 8, 2014 - 6:20 PM

People continue to suffer today, often in a poor environment.


Photo: Rick Nease • Detroit Free Press/MCT,

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The July 7 article “Site memorializes ‘forgotten souls,’ ” about the cremated remains of the mentally ill found at an Oregon hospital, was very moving. One comment begs clarification, however: “Some patients spent a lifetime at the hospital for conditions like depression and bipolar disorder that, in modern times, are treated on an outpatient basis.” I would have added the word “unsuccessfully” to that last phrase.

How more humane are we today? Thousands of mentally ill people suffer through homelessness and languish in jails and prisons. The closing of the majority of mental hospitals, and their replacement with outpatient care, has been a massive failure.

Bill Scheel, Stillwater


By one measure, it doubled? This matters.

The short July 4 article “Poverty marker doubles for state” seems to make the argument that while the portion of Minnesotans living in poverty more than doubled from 2000 to 2010, we should be happy that it is not worse. It points out that our change was less than that of the nation and far less than for benchmark states like Washington, Oregon and Colorado.

I find that kind of indifferent attitude about our rising poverty rates disheartening. By contrast, that same day, “Dow closes above 17,000” was a headline on the front of the Business section. This points out the widening gulf that exists between the haves and the have-nots in our state. In this election year, let us make sure our candidates and elected officials know that we want them to address the underlying causes of why so many of our neighbors are living in poverty in our great state — before we double it again.

Mary Jo Malecha, New Brighton



Certain schools are gaming the system

Most educators already believed scores on standardized tests were a flawed way to measure the quality of a school, but now the Star Tribune has brought the problem to its readers (“Summer is already over for some kids,” July 6).

The report said that a few traditional districts and many charter schools have maneuvered around the law against starting school before Labor Day. The clear reason was to game the system in order to have more instruction days before the spring MCA tests.

One superintendent confessed that an earlier start might not improve learning overall but would boost test scores. Predictably, the biggest users of early starts were charter schools, which often advertise their scores to lure families away from schools bound by the Labor Day start law.

These tactics show that the differences in scores from district to district, or even from year to year, aren’t necessarily about the quality of the school. They just might be about the quantity of instruction days before the tests.

That’s an important difference for readers to remember the next time they hear someone use test scores to label one district a “success” and another group of hardworking educators a “failure.”

Rodney Rowe, St. Paul


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