Readers Write: (Sept. 2): Food on a stick, back to school, Catholic Church, police tactics, war and peace

  • Updated: August 29, 2014 - 7:08 PM

I tried it with pickles in the early 1970s. And they sold.

Way back in 1971, I was able to begin a booth in the Food Building at the great Minnesota State Fair that I named The State Fair Deli.

Rueben Sandwiches is what I featured. That first year I sold around 400 very large kosher dill pickles. In 1972, I decided to insert wooden sticks into the pickles. Up until then, the only things that were on a stick were Pronto Pups and Corn Dogs. Putting sticks into the pickles increased our pickle sales to more than 4,000, and I continued to do that until I decided to leave the fair after 2001. I never dreamed that I would have started an epidemic of food on a stick, so when what you are eating falls off the stick and hits the ground, blame me.

Alan Stone, Minnetonka

BACK TO SCHOOL

Teachers wrongly accused of bias

Kate Sattler and D.A. Bullock, the writers of “Back to school with a wake-up call” (Aug. 28), tell us that “teachers expect less from black students, and those low expectations are a significant barrier to black students’ academic growth.” This statement and belief is a gross generalization and does a disservice to all of the dedicated teachers who are just beginning the new school year.

Later in the article, the writers tell the Minneapolis School District to “assess its own staff and teachers for bias and low expectations.” In other words, the district’s classrooms are filled with racist teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Those who choose to teach in urban school districts face many challenges. The last thing on their minds, as each day they enter their classroom, is the color of the skin of the students sitting in the chairs in front of them.

George Larson, Minneapolis

• • •

The Aug. 28 commentary put forth an unusual theory — that, contrary to common sense and decades of research, segregation and poverty aren’t the cause of the state’s persistent achievement gap. Instead, the authors claim, the gap is primarily the fault of teachers and educators, who simply don’t believe in their black students enough.

They describe high-performing charter schools as a “control group” that demonstrates this problem, appropriating statistical terminology without using any actual statistics. But plenty of real statistics have been run on charter performance, and in the Twin Cities, the results are unambiguous. Charters, in the aggregate, perform less well than traditional public schools with similar demographic compositions. (Since charters are often filled with the student populations most at risk — nonwhite, low-income — this means their overall performance is objectively quite terrible indeed.)

A handful of anomalous schools with better performance does nothing to change the fact that the charter movement has, if anything, widened the overall racial achievement gap in Minnesota. It has accomplished this by isolating the most underprivileged students in unstable institutions. For meaningful change, we have to reverse this isolation, not scold teachers about their attitudes.

Will Stancil, Minneapolis

 

CATHOLIC CHURCH

The danger in exclusion is to dwindle

Immediately after his election, Pope Francis announced that the book is closed on the matter of the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church. Banning women from the altar and the pulpit excludes them from full participation in the worship and evangelization of the church. This ban is not chiseled in the Eternal Rock of Truth, but it is chiseled in the stony hearts of the patriarchs in the Eternal City.

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