TARGET

For departing CEO, this really has to smart

Columnist Lee Schafer writes in the May 6 Business section that Target is holding its departing CEO “accountable.” I had to laugh at that as I read the accompanying article about how much money that same CEO is taking with him after being shown the door (“Steinhafel could get $26 million from Target”). CEOs and “regular” people really do live in different worlds, don’t they? And someone’s idea of accountable is just as different.

Jim Stromberg, Edina

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By looking at the presentation of “Who’s next for Target?” in the May 6 Business section, it appears the assumption is that the next CEO will be male. The headline contains the large Target bull’s-eye logo surrounded by photos of five male potential candidates. But what really struck me was that the ghostlike image in the illustration was so obviously male. I’m sure some will think this is an overreaction, but what is a young woman to think? The message is clear: “Women need not apply.”

Polly Saul, Minneapolis

 

SUPREME COURT AND PRAYER

Let’s see how this goes when it’s not Christian

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that government bodies can begin their meetings with prayer, even when it clearly favors one religion. I can only begin to imagine the chaos that would ensue were that prayer consistently invoking the name of Allah instead of Jesus. Five of the robed nine need a history lesson as a reminder that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.

Susan Barrett, South St. Paul

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Since history and tradition were cited as justification for the ruling, I will await the high court’s decisions to return our nation to other traditions, such as slavery, child labor and voting rights for property-­owning males only.

Todd Embury, Ramsey

 

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Teacher passion will meet reality of red tape

As a retired Minneapolis special-education teacher, I read with great interest the May 5 article “A new path to career as special ed teacher.” The new program designed to draw new special-ed teachers from the ranks of special-ed assistants is brilliant in its simplicity and potential effectiveness. There is a talent pool under our noses, ready to step up to the job. To quote University of Minnesota Prof. Jennifer McComas: “They have the experience, the passion, to become excellent teachers.” I would add that they know firsthand the challenges of the job that they aspire to, which makes them all the more valuable as applicants.

My reason for writing, however, is that this program addresses only part of the problem of the shortage of special-education teachers. There is a reason why special-ed teachers are quitting faster than new ones enter the profession. When I retired in 2005, working conditions were already deteriorating. Paperwork increased in quantity and complexity year after year. Even worse, caseloads rose yearly, creating a situation where it became harder and harder to provide the type of service that children with disabilities require. Even in 2005, professionals recognized the problem, but nothing was done — because of funding that decreased with the same unrelenting regularity.

Unless we solve the problem of working conditions (smaller caseloads, manageable paperwork), the talent drain will continue. The new, talented and enthusiastic teachers who will come from this new program will, alas, continue to leave the profession at the same alarming rate as is occurring now.

Marc Burgett, Minneapolis

 

DIVERSITY

We seem to try too hard to play up differences

The May 5 story “Diversity unbalanced in schools” is yet another indicator that we are obsessed with this topic in America. The article states that the proportion of nonwhite teachers is less than 1 in 5 and that our classrooms are 48 percent minority. It quotes Kevin Gilbert from the Clinton, Mass., public school district, who states that students respond better to teachers who look like them. He then goes on to say that classes such as those in North Dakota with little diversity should have teachers who think, act and talk differently from them.

Is it me, or are those two thoughts contradictory? We rationalize forced diversity without any criteria for teaching competence. Don’t we all hope for our children being taught by the best available teachers? This is not a problem in other countries. Most cultures teach their own. We have come a long way to becoming a diverse society in America. Are we never content?

Don Eisenschenk, Minnetonka

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Recently, my daughter, four granddaughters and I traveled to France to celebrate two of the granddaughters’ successful completion of their French immersion program in elementary and middle school. These two young girls saved our collective derrières repeatedly as we navigated our way through hotels, restaurants, ATMs, gas stations, highways and byways of the French countryside. More than a few times, they were both complimented by the locals they encountered, not only for their flawless command of the French language, but also because their delivery was accent-free.

Imagine my chagrin at learning today that instead of receiving compliments, the girls were victims of microaggression (“Eye on ‘micro’ racial slights,” Variety, May 3). Really? Really?

Microagression appears to be another macroindulgence of narcissism rather than an attempt to address issues of true importance.

Jan Moe, Edina