Chanhassen High School Principal Tim Dorway’s characterization of substitute teachers as “babysitters” (“High schools try life without substitutes,” Nov. 9) indicates both sweeping disrespect for those teachers’ professionalism and a serious misunderstanding of the importance of human interaction in learning. True, well-prepared teachers design meaningful classwork for students to accomplish when those teachers must be absent, and they can design those activities for substitutes or for online facilitation. Ill-prepared teachers leave substitutes without meaningful lesson plans and cause them to be mere “babysitters.” Activities they might leave for online learning are frightening to think about, but so might be their classrooms when the ill-prepared teachers are present!

If Chanhassen’s substitute teachers have been nothing more than “babysitters” (which I doubt), it speaks badly of the teachers and administrators whose procedures and expectations rendered those substitutes functioning as less than the licensed teaching professionals they are.

Mike Tillmann, Owatonna, Minn.

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In our department at Champlin Park High School, we have a list of specific subs we can count on to teach a quality lesson, so students aren’t just doing busy work when the teacher is gone. I would guess most of the work being done online in these no-sub high schools is just that: busy work. If Dorway allows his teachers to hand off sub plans only requiring subs to babysit, well, that’s on him. We count on the ability of our subs to deliver quality lesson plans.

Subs in the Anoka-Hennepin district are licensed teachers who technically should be able to handle the teaching of a lesson, and if they can’t, then perhaps the bigger question is about the credibility of the Department of Education and their distribution of licenses. I realize if I put in for a sub, I may get someone who is licensed in math, but that’s a system failure needing to be addressed on a district level. When I put together a proper plan for a sub, I often times receive a note saying, “Thank you for actually letting me teach something.” Subs are quite able to do so if given the opportunity.

Michael Periolat, St. Louis Park

 

U’s ROCHESTER CAMPUS

City can benefit from students, who will become workers

I was sad to see a Nov. 9 letter writer call for the termination of the University of Minnesota’s Rochester campus. Citing top-heavy and expensive administrative costs, the writer said that the nearly 20-year-old campus was a failed experiment. I couldn’t disagree more!

Rochester is undergoing a huge transformation. The Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center is in the early stages, and Mayo is going to have to have all of its world-class operations housed in an even larger, more sophisticated campus.

Except … there’s a problem. (There’s always a problem.) It needs workers. Highly skilled workers. There’s early talk of crafting economic development packages to encourage more bars, restaurants and retail. A better solution to attracting the workers they need might be sitting right under their noses: a college campus.

By increasing the number of young people who spend time in Rochester, the more likely Mayo can convince them to stay. Also, the expansion of the university would provide something that bars, restaurants and retail need — customers. Colleges create tangible good in the cities they’re in.

Joe Widmer, Minneapolis

• • •

The Nov. 9 letter writer notes that the administrative costs for the Rochester campus are expanding even as the enrollment decreases.

The university’s regents are planning a 10-acre Education District in downtown Rochester, with 587,000 square feet in facilities. The addition of space is a major factor in the soaring expenses for facilities in the U system (up 75 percent in the last decade). In September 2014, the associate vice president for facilities management informed the regents that the current approach to facilities management is unsustainable.

Approximately one-third of the existing buildings on the Twin Cities campus (a total of 7.7 million square feet) are now rated in poor or critical condition. Constructing the Education District before the administration comes to grips with the crumbling academic infrastructure will accelerate the deterioration of the existing facilities.

Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville

 

CAMPUS SAFETY

Assault, a matter of supply and demand? Let’s expect better.

A Nov. 9 commentary (“When the men are outnumbered …”) discussed a study’s finding that where women outnumber men on college campuses, there are higher rates of promiscuity and, more alarmingly, sexual assault and rape. This is presumably due to men “devaluing” women who are in good supply.

The author had me interested until her final sentence: “The evidence suggests that women can help themselves by becoming less available to their counterparts.” Is she suggesting that the young women who have been raped or assaulted somehow “made themselves available” simply by being the majority on campus? What then, is the solution? Fewer women on college campuses? Or is it that if young women would be “less available” (read: less promiscuous), these crimes would lessen?

Once again, it is being suggested that females adjust in order to control male behavior. When will we ask men to be responsible for their own actions?

Amy Anderson, Edina

 

THE WHITE WORKING CLASS

Economic opportunity is getting waylaid by political inflexibility

I read the Nov. 7 commentary “The demise of the white working class” and was alarmed, but not surprised, by the statistic that “ the number of deaths … among working-class whites ages 45 to 54 has risen since 1999 — so precipitously that the overall death rate for this group increased by 22 percent.” The article went on to discuss the loss of manufacturing jobs and lower wages and the rise of hiring temp workers to replace full-time workers as a few of the explanations for the loss of work in the middle class.

Then I went to the opposite page and read letters to the editor from people who were happy that the Keystone pipeline was rejected, again. I wonder if those who fought Keystone have ever been unemployed for so long that they faced the despair discussed in the first article? Regardless of which environmental side of the issue you are on, the Keystone pipeline would have provided good-paying jobs. And, for those who will quickly say it isn’t worth the environmental cost, I ask: To whom?

Catherine Besonen, Apple Valley

 

LOST MONEY

Finders should be keepers if owner, given time, doesn’t claim

My granddaughter recently found a $20 bill on the floor by the checkout lane at Target. I told her that some very poor person might have dropped it and that the right thing to do was to turn it in to Customer Service, which I knew from previous experience would hold it for a week and, if no one inquired about it, would call me to come and get it. My granddaughter was OK with that.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Target has a new policy. The money is held it for a week, then Target “donates it to a charity.” Now I have an upset grandchild and a suspicious feeling that she has just contributed to an employee party fund.

In the future, I will suggest she keep the money but make a contribution at church next Sunday. Hopefully, she won’t ask me about the poor person who lost the money.

Phil Seipp, Burnsville