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Readers Write: (Oct. 19): Special education, Phyllis Kahn's orchestra proposal, the Catholic Church

  • October 18, 2013 - 6:58 PM


Talk of efficiencies may just lead to cuts

Thursday’s editorial and this week’s article on special-education costs talk about rules and efficiencies, but could have the unintended effect of banging the drum to cut special-education funding.

Yes, money is tight, but as a person who has devoted more than 20 years to providing technology to help persons with disabilities, and as the father of a child with a disability, I understand that the success of each student with a disability is both unique and fragile. There is simply no way to lump all with special needs into one group nor to compare the average cost per student. It is especially damaging to use the numbers from the highest-cost individuals as a value barometer.

Some kids with disabilities need greater intervention and support than others. No one wants more than they need. No one wants to need any support at all.

My son was well-supported by the dedicated people of the Minnetonka school district. He graduated high school and went on to graduate from college. He needed some help. Thank God and the state of Minnesota that it was available.

When I hear that Minnesota spends more on special education than many states, I am proud of my state. I think of the call I took some years ago from a mother in another state whose teenage child couldn’t speak, yet no one had even told her that technology was available that could help her child communicate. That’s an extreme example, but as a state we will find our hearts are where our treasure is.




State Rep. Phyllis Kahn has a plan you’ll like

As the Minnesota Orchestra saga continues, leaders across our state have called for continued discussion, leadership and action. Even pleas could be heard from Washington in the attempt to keep the ball rolling on negotiations. While city leaders, mayoral candidates and congressional leaders have tried to display leadership in the Minnesota Orchestra situation, their cries have gone nowhere. Minnesotans, and certainly our talented musicians who play for the orchestra, don’t need another resolution calling for action, a news release from Washington or a Facebook status update stating what isn’t happening. We need action.

Finally, one of Minneapolis’ finest delivers. State Rep. Phyllis Kahn proposes community ownership of our orchestra.

Taking the orchestra out of the hands of corporate America and putting it into the hands of Minnesotans is the best option on the table. Minnesotans care deeply about their orchestra and will step up to the plate when the private sector has clearly walked away. Thank you, Phyllis, for your leadership.


• • •

I’m a bit worried about Kahn’s call for more involvement from the Legislature in the plight of the orchestra. In the tight economic environment in which we find ourselves, state government all too often seems to see additional gambling as the shining solution to our financial problems (as was the case with the new Vikings stadium). I’m concerned that future visitors to Orchestra Hall will be greeted by a lobby filled with rows of slot machines and iPads for electronic pulltabs at every seat in the hall. On the other hand, those iPads could also double as noiseless programs, saving on printing costs as well as recycling. Maybe turning Orchestra Hall into an “Orchasino” is the answer our community has been looking for.

LEE BLASKE, Excelsior



Unpleasant coverage, but it’s the paper’s role

I disagree with the letter writers who complain that the paper’s coverage of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has been distorted, unfair and lacking in respect. We’re talking about possible criminal activity — both on the part of the priests who have been accused of abuse and on the part of a church hierarchy that has long tried to cover up the accusations and protect itself and the priests — and we’re not just talking about a few isolated cases.

One of the duties of a free press is to bring to light wrongdoing on the part of people in authority, be they politicians, government officials, CEOs or church leaders. The paper would be falling short in its responsibilities if it did not cover the scandal fully.


• • •

If the facts and history were researched, the good done by the Catholic Church cited in an Oct. 17 letter was almost all initiated and done by nuns, not priests. They are the ones who established schools and orphanages; ministered to the poor; built the hospitals, colleges, nursing homes, retreat centers and missions, and worked as nurses, teachers and caregivers, often in spite of the priest and bishops in charge of the church and its resources, not because of them.

I studied with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet at Derham Hall High School. I woke up to the real depth of the sisters’ contributions long ago, when I compared their collective efforts, just in the Twin Cities alone, to the likes of Andrew Carnegie and others like him ensconced as the great American benefactors. His and their contributions, however significant, appear small by comparison to the vision, compassion, hard work and accomplishments of these women around the world that affect every layer of society in almost every community.


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