Don’t judge teachers’ discipline too harshly

I was disheartened by the April 28 article “Disabled students face dangerous discipline.” I’ve substituted in many special-needs classrooms and can attest that the teachers and aides were some of the sweetest people I’ve ever worked with. The almost-barbaric atmosphere of special-education classrooms that the article painted contrasted mightily with my experiences. The work of the dedicated teachers in this field is among the most taxing and emotionally draining in our schools.


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Treating kids with special needs requires consistency between school and home. Schools cannot account for behaviors learned and allowed at home. Nor can they shape kids’ behaviors if parents won’t support the work at school. Parents shouldn’t allow disrespect of school personnel but instead should work with them. By the same token, schools need to teach directive guidance to students so they respond to rules and do their best to conform.


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As a mother of a son with disabilities, I encourage the newspaper to use “people first” language. The article’s headline could have read “Students with disabilities face dangerous discipline” instead of “Disabled students face dangerous discipline.” The first line could have read “A 10-year-old boy with autism …” instead of “A 10-year-old autistic boy …” Everyone deserves to be acknowledged first for who they are rather than with a label.

RUTH OLSON-BAHE, Annandale, Minn.

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Equally controversial, and yet at Capitol …

How interesting that the Legislature won’t vote on the “politically charged” issue of gun control but will likely ram down our throats a law allowing gay marriage, also a “politically charged” issue.

BOB HART, Inver Grove Heights

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I feel sympathy for legislators struggling with the question of same-sex marriage. However they vote, they’ll face negative reactions. Of course, I will be furious if my state denies me the right to marry the man I’ve lived with for more than a quarter of a century. But I will be even more angry at legislators who dodge their responsibility to do more than rubber-stamp constituent opinions.

JEFF MOSES, Minneapolis

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With the gun-show loophole, the Internet loophole, the private sales and family-transfer loopholes, why have any background checks? Just repeal what’s left. Then law-abiding citizens wouldn’t suffer the horrible inconvenience of a system that, with other common-sense measures, might save the lives of some innocent American children and adults without diminishing Second Amendment rights. And even the crooks and crazies could be more easily armed to resist when our duly-elected officials send combat troops to confiscate our weapons.


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Soaring population cripples the economy

One thing that jumped out at me in reading the April 28 article by reporter Allie Shah (“A return to Pakistan”) is that Pakistan’s population is at least 171 million. How can it possibly eliminate poverty, hunger and unemployment when it cannot sustain that population — a population that’s still growing? Much of the country is rugged mountains, so there’s only so much land on which to grow food. These problems won’t go away in the near future, and that could be bad for Pakistan as well as its neighbors.

TOM R. KOVACH, Nevis, Minn.

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Not needed by these St. Paul providers

My husband and I are licensed child-care providers, and we don’t want or need a union. We don’t need “a democratic, collective voice” nor “an effective advocate” to speak with our clients or to address employment issues, as an April 30 letter writer suggested. If we worked in a child-care center, we would welcome a union to speak on our behalf to the corporation for whom we toiled. But we work for ourselves and speak for ourselves. We are small-business owners.


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Poor grades are related to poor shelter

Thanks for the commentary that made clear the connection between classroom success and stable affordable housing (“Students need shelter before and after the bell,” April 29). Housing can and should be used to improve educational outcomes. That’s one of the premises of the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood and the Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis. Hats off to members of the education community for recognizing the basic needs of students. I hope the Legislature does the same.

JIM ROTH, Minneapolis

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As public educators, it’s critical that we see our connectedness to other sectors in our communities. Housing instability, residential mobility and homelessness affect learning and the health of our children. To realize the full benefit of public investment into education, it’s best to have children show up to school ready to learn.

RYAN STRACK, North St. Paul