For some, a simple message can be vital


I used to think all the hubbub about food labeling was due to a bunch of overzealous moms being concerned about a peanut here and there or somebody being paranoid, until I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

Now I have to spend hours reading labels, looking for the ways wheat can be disguised and hidden in something as simple as tomato soup ("Simpler food labels a high-stakes task," Dec. 27).

Paranoid? I don't think so anymore. Now I am a member of "The Club." When something so simple as an ingredient can make you sick (at the least) or kill you, it's nice to have it easily labeled so you don't have to put your health or life at risk.


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Wanted: Properly motivated executives


Rich Cowles, executive director of the Charities Review Council, states that "nonprofits can't deliver high-quality services without paying adequately" (Letter of the Day, Dec. 27).

He goes on to say that although there are nonprofit executives with inflated salaries, it is not the norm.

To back up this claim, he welcomes donors to visit to review nonprofit executive pay.

We took his advice, and what we found was alarming. The website lists average CEO/executive director salaries for budgets greater than $5 million to be $420,092. This is the average -- not the exception.

Aren't there any executives out there who are retired or are financially secure enough to volunteer their time to run some of these organizations without taking excessive salaries from money given by donors that is intended for the needy?

We would like to see an executive with his heart in the right place. Such an executive would feel guilty about accepting such a gluttonous wage, and would know that his new timeshare in Aspen could be feeding and clothing his community.


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What practices best benefit students?


Regarding the article about teachers and their opinions within the classroom ("Is classroom off-limits to teacher views?" Dec. 26), the answer is really as simple as this: As with a great news anchor, the public should never be able to discern a teacher's political ideology.

The classroom is about the students, and a knowledgeable teacher should be able to evenly present all sides of any issue or the ideology of any political party.

There is no relevance to doing otherwise other than to further the teacher's own agenda and take advantage of a captive audience.


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Requiring teachers to "not advocate personal beliefs or opinions regarding controversial topics in the course of their professional duties," as the policy being considered by the Anoka-Hennepin district states, would impair any great educator from modeling and inspiring the authentic thinking and critical consciousness vital for active and responsible citizenship.

Apart from common notions and practices of the secondary classroom, the classroom's purpose is not to develop students into machines who are able to store general knowledge in their minds like robots.

Instead, the purpose is to aid in the development of authentic thinkers: people confident in their own ways of understanding and problem-solving, who analytically search for relationships between ideas, and who approach knowledge critically and skeptically.

The teachers who inspire the greatest authentic thinking growth among students are authentic themselves: They do not hide their own passions or own critical consciousness.

Through this, they inspire students to find their passions and voices, to engage in advocacy and the dialogues necessary for a successful democracy, and to develop their own critical consciousness.

If we limit the authenticity of our teachers, we limit the impact they can have in inspiring critical and active citizenship among our students.


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Funding comes from nonresidents, too


As a resident of Anoka County, I am dismayed by the Hennepin County Library's decision to deny nonresidents access to the system's e-books. My husband and I both work in Hennepin County and make purchases there.

A portion of the sales tax we pay in Hennepin County goes toward keeping every library in the system open on Sundays. But the richest library system in the metro area apparently cannot share with surrounding counties. Very disappointing.


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Party members, keep your heads held high


These last several days have certainly been tough and disappointing for us Republicans in Minnesota.

Like most Republicans, I have been shocked, angered and saddened by what some individuals in our party have done to themselves, their party and above all to their families.

But we have to remember that our Republican Party is bigger, better and stronger than just a few individuals who may have lacked adequate management skills or morally acceptable personal judgment.

Republicans must realize the 2012 elections will be the most important in our lives. We have seen in the past three years how much damage an ill-equipped, socialist-leaning president can do to our country.

I have to agree with some media pundits (liberal and conservative alike) who say any one of our Republican candidates would beat Barack Obama today.

However, I am not going to let these observations dissuade me from doing everything I can to ensure that Obama is a one-term president.

Locally, we are very fortunate to have exceptional Republican representation in state government. We need to remember that our leaders in the Legislature are all up for reelection in 2012.

Can you fathom what damage Gov. Mark Dayton would do to our state with a Democratic Senate and/or House?

Keep in mind that our party and its principles are what will keep our country strong and regain our prosperity for us, our children and grandchildren.

Keep telling your friends, neighbors and relatives how proud you are to be a Republican and continue to support our party with a positive attitude.