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Rick Nease • Detroit Free Press/MCT,

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

  • July 8, 2014 - 6:20 PM

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

POVERTY IN MINNESOTA

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

 

TEST SCORES

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

 

The writer is secretary-treasurer of Education Minnesota, the teachers union.

 

GUNS

Mature owners aren’t the face of ‘open carry’

Steve Sack’s July 3 editorial cartoon, on Open Carry Texas, appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It shows a middle-aged, fat lout with an AR-15 and a hat labeled “NRA.”

As a competitive rifle marksman and hunter, I am one of many who have been puzzled by the “open carry” movement. The practice of carrying a loaded gun in public is certainly at odds with my NRA experiences in safety training and basic gun manners, which at this point go back more than half a century. I can tell you that most of the real professionals in the shooting sports hobby are not in agreement with the practices exhibited by “open carry” advocates.

Even the NRA has gently admonished this group. You will note that the majority of participants in their demonstrations have flat bellies and appear to be under 30, like so many others out advocating this or that “new freedom.” This is a lot more of a youth movement than a “gun” movement.

Griffin T. Murphey, Fort Worth, Texas

 

SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS

This should be neutral and really quite simple

We should strive to be a “colorblind” society. Why are we constantly asking schools to look at skin color when it comes to behavior in schools (“Press for progress on suspensions,” July 9)? The question should be: Is your behavior appropriate for a learning environment? Yes or no? End of story.

Tom Cornish, Minneapolis

 

HIGH-SPEED RAIL

Silly you! The money actually grows on trees

I read in disbelief about the plans for a high-speed rail line to Duluth “chugging along” (June 30). Project manager Frank Loetterle of the Minnesota Department of Transportation was quoted as saying: “But the climate for funding has changed. When the money falls from the sky, we need to be ready.”

Really? Is that where he thinks the money comes from?

William Loss, Lino Lakes

 

SOCIAL CHANGE

The best ideas actually do need to be pushed

The July 6 letter writer who stated that if something is a good idea it doesn’t need to be forced could not have been more wrong. Civil rights was a good idea; it had to be forced. Food inspection was a good idea; it had to be forced. The effort to tell people that cigarette smoking was bad for you was a good idea; it had to be forced. Driving safe cars was a good idea; it had to forced. Ending child labor was a good idea; it had to be forced. Having a safe workplace was a good idea; it had to forced. Paying people a living wage is a good idea, but it seems it needs to be forced, as does allowing homosexuals to be treated equally.

In fact, it seems that if something is a good idea, it definitely needs to be forced, at least in the United States in this day and age.

Irving Kellman, Plymouth

 

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Enough with the namby-pamby wording

Political correctness is so out of hand these days that before too long bank robbers will be referred to as “undocumented account holders.” Hopefully, common sense will prevail.

Mike Hendel, Coon Rapids

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