ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

Suppose sufficient funding would help?

There’s a minor detail missing from the discussion of substandard academic performance (“Grad rates are up, but don’t be fooled,” May 14) — what’s being done to solve the problem. There seems to be an abundance of data and a consensus that students need to improve, so where’s the action? Claims that schools and education are a priority abound until an issue concerning actual voters takes precedence and programs are whittled further. Spectacular results are unlikely when there’s not enough funding to support regular classes, much less additional assistance.

Maybe it really is just a symptom of a generation of young adults with no foresight, addicted to anything with a screen. Maybe it’s the inevitable result of kids set up to fail by circumstances beyond their control and exacerbated by a lack of accountability. Policymaking is a complex process, and education isn’t the only important issue, but don’t expect students to do a better job when given poorer tools.

Alyssha Maes, Eden Prairie

 

RACIAL EQUITY

Healthy, intact families should be the first step

A May 13 letter writer’s observation that money is important in corrective work for “poor black kids” is well-taken. But more important still is preventive work involving the restoration of a healthy family life. What “poor black kids” (and others) need even more than money is caring, responsible love from a father and a mother.

James Swetnam, St. Louis, Mo.

• • •

Words like “building consensus,” “creating opportunity” and “creating understanding” are thrown about in attempts at solutions for “inequality.” Yet the inequality remains. We could sit and argue about the why and keep on blaming white privilege and historical discrimination. Or we can start to change the cycle of poverty. And we start by mentioning the unmentionable: sex.

This action, whatever your color, can produce children; children who are undoubtedly loved and cherished regardless of how they were brought into the world. But when children are brought into the world without the resources or relationships needed, they will, statistically, start out at a disadvantage. The solution is this: Stop having sex until you are committed to that partner for life — dare I say be married. Women: You have a sacred responsibility. Men: if you have a son or daughter — love the woman who brought them into this world for life and support those children for life, loving them and being a virtuous example.

I can already hear the scoffing and the rebuttals and exemptions to my suggestions. No, it won’t solve all society’s ills. But the statistics and research show it works.

Ryan Johnk, Eden Prairie

 

INCARCERATION COSTS

Spend some, save more with bad folks detained

A May 13 letter (“Here’s the key fact: It costs us a bundle”) misses a key fact itself. While it costs $31,307 to keep a prisoner locked up, the alternative may be much more expensive. Years ago, my house was burglarized. About $2,000 in electronics were taken. The police said the burglar would probably sell it all for $200. Let’s say the burglar was content with making only $20,000 a year. He or she would have to steal $200,000 of electronics each year. Seems to me that society would save $170,000 a year by locking the burglar up.

The writer also implies that spending $30,000 on education, therapy, rehabilitation, training and health care would be better. Education and health care didn’t make either Tom Petters and Bernie Madoff less of a thief. I don’t know how you attach dollar figures to other crimes, but it seems prison may be cost-effective.

Michael Ebnet, Edina

 

STADIUM COSTS

No, they aren’t spent in a funding vacuum

John G. Morgan (“Stadium foes really should ‘get over it,’ ” May 13) grabbed some low-hanging fruit and hit some of his targets with it, but he missed the biggest one.

There is indeed a direct connection “between funding a stadium and not funding roads” or medical care or bridge repair. It’s called “opportunity cost.” None of the half-billion dollars of corporate welfare the Wilfs got will go to road repair or anywhere else that it is so desperately needed. Granted, a big chunk of that money would never have been raised if not for the stadium. But it is stunningly dishonest to suggest that everything else the public pays for would be getting exactly the same amount with or without this one huge item.

Brian W. Smith, Roseville

 

FUN WITH LANGUAGE

Animate White House? There’s a word for that

I read the May 14 Letter of the Day (“There’s real magic going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”) with sympathy. I remember going to Washington and seeing many white houses and not knowing which one talked. That was not the worst part. I was told early to read the Bible and was only as far as the third chapter of Genesis when I read, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.”

When I tried that I found out I did not like wet bread.

I next tried Shakespeare and started with “Julius Caesar” until I read a speech by Mark Antony that started, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” I knew the Romans were cruel and bloodthirsty, but this was too much.

It got worse when my uncle hired a “helping hand.” I had grotesque thoughts until I saw that the hired man had both hands and that they were attached.

Luckily, I decided to be an English major when I found out I did not have to join the Army to do so. In college, I was taught about figures of speech and that a word for an object can be substituted by a word associated with the object.

Ronald Palosaari, Maple Grove

• • •

There is also real magic going on in the dictionary. Mine is quietly, majestically sitting there. However, when opened, it reveals capacious words like synecdoche and metonymy. Words aren’t coming — they are already here.

Peter Erickson, Minneapolis