GIFTED-STUDENT FLIGHT

What’s to escape? A slice of a diverse city

Those fleeing Minneapolis schools (“Parents of gifted driven to suburban schools,” March 9) can’t see what they are actually missing: reality.

The southwest corner of Minneapolis, which the article features, does not accurately represent the full city’s residents. Lake Harriet Lower School, which gifted students are apparently “fleeing” from, boasts a student population that is 88 percent white, compared with 34 percent districtwide. Eight percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 2 percent are English-language learners (compared with 26 percent districtwide).

Now consider my K-8 alma mater, Anne Sullivan Communication Center. Currently, 7 percent of Sullivan students are white; 59 percent are English-language learners and 91 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. My English-learning peers had to work much harder than did I, a native English speaker. Other peers struggled academically because they lacked familial support or resources. And still others were extremely bright, but the English barrier or unsupportive family hid their talent — yes, their giftedness.

There are two incorrect responses to this reality. One is to hang our communal head in defeat, to give up on those who need extra help. The other is to “flee” to the gifted suburban programs. Instead, I encourage the families of gifted children to stay and invest in Minneapolis schools. (Idea: Your gifted children can also help!) Education is a societal effort, not an economically obtained privilege.

Elise Riveness, Minneapolis

 

TEARDOWN MORATORIUM

It’s a bad idea to say no to revitalization

A one-year moratorium on residential demolition in Minneapolis (“Teardown moratorium OK’d in Minneapolis,” March 8) is bad policy in so many obvious ways I can’t even begin to cover them all.

Why would you want to stop investment in our community? And what kind of message is being sent to people who might be considering future investments in revitalizing our antiquated housing stock? Most towns would beg for this type of problem, but only in the loony world of Minneapolis government would they want to send these dollars away. It hurts people who want to sell their homes and discourages others from living here.

Put good residential building policies in place and enforce those policies. Period.

Dan Barker, Hopkins

 

WINTER’S WORK

Praise welcome; good pay would be better

While I think it’s lovely that snowplow drivers are receiving appreciation in the form of news articles and letters to the editor, it’s time our cities and municipalities reconsidered how they compensate these tireless, invisible and invaluable workers.

The Great Recession sidelined my husband’s construction-related business for some time. After 30 years of successful self-employment, he took a job in the park and rec department of a Minneapolis suburb. This involved not only snowplowing streets, sidewalks, parking lots and park trails at all hours, but also flooding ice rinks in the dead of night.

On a “typical” snow day, he would go in around midnight, work until anywhere from 3 to 8 p.m., then go back at midnight and start over — seven days a week, if need be. When it didn’t snow, his shift flooding outdoor rinks began at 2 a.m. There were many weeks when he clocked well more than 80 hours … plus the 20 hours he squeezed in at a part-time job.

Why take a second job, given his grueling schedule? Even with overtime pay, his highest annual salary was $43,000. Many of his co-workers went without even a cost-of-living increase for more than eight years. My husband never complained, but the toll those few years took on his health and on our family life will not soon be forgotten.

Jean Hanvik, Burnsville

 

LEGACY COUNCIL

Leaders should reflect Minnesota’s majority

According to data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, most Minnesotans neither hunt nor fish, by a ratio of almost 4 to 1. Yet, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, funded with a sales tax paid by all Minnesotans, is heavily weighted with hunters — and the group Sportsmen for Change wants a new leader for the council who has a “strong hunting and angling background” (“Legacy council to hang out ‘help wanted’ sign,” March 2).

The pro-hunting minority has brought us predator killing of wolves, sandhill cranes and mourning doves. (Two of these animals are not eaten for food, and mourning doves are so small as to not make much of a meal once the buckshot is picked out.) This segment of society also wants to turn state-owned wildlife management areas into game farms, and many run roughshod over public lands in off-road vehicles.

The new leader of the council must represent the majority of Minnesotans who do not feel compelled to kill an animal when out in the wild. Many of us do understand the “palpable beauty” of wild places and do so without a gun.

Catherine Zimmer, St. Paul

 

SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS

It’s ‘Business 101’ vs. earnest convictions

A March 9 letter writer cannot understand why a florist would refuse to provide flowers for a same-sex nuptial, saying such action “defies … Business 101.” The florist’s action might be made more understandable by imagining a gay chef who refuses to cater a fundraising banquet for a group lobbying against same-sex marriage. Principled people, both gay and straight, believe refusing to participate in an activity they consider morally wrong is more important than the money they will lose. On the other hand, ask the florist to provide flowers for the birthday of one of the spouses, or ask the chef to cater a graduation party for the child of one of the banquet’s attendees, and the logic of Business 101 will roar back in full force.

Patricia K. Peres, Shoreview