It was very moving to observe the fourth- through eighth-grade students at Lake Harriet School, Upper Campus, as they participated in a “Walk for School Safety” on March 14. The students left the school at 10 a.m. and walked around the building, returning to their classrooms 17 minutes later. They walked silently and seriously, commemorating the loss of 17 lives in the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. Many carried signs that said “enough” and “We’re the change.”
The Lake Harriet students planned this event and joined thousands of others in walkouts around the country. These children just want to go to school and live their lives without fear of gun violence. We adults should be inspired by their resolve to do something about the epidemic of gun violence in our country. We could all take 17 minutes out of our lives to write a letter or call a legislator and ask for more research on gun violence, universal background checks for gun purchases and a ban on assault weapons. Don’t we love our kids enough to do this?
Mary Anderson, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired teacher.
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A Nashville school administrator questioned what students would learn by walking out of class for a few minutes. The answer is simple: that students across the nation are coming together to accomplish what we adults could not.
Turning schools into fortresses isn’t the answer. We cannot possibly secure all public areas where both children and adults are vulnerable to attack. As the students are demanding, we must focus on the very tools that enable efficient killing.
To those who oppose the student protests in the name of gun rights, we need your help: If there’s anything more we can do to guarantee the right to own arms for hunting and self-defense, let’s do it. Then, please help us reduce access to weapons that are more destructive than needed for those purposes, and help us do whatever we can to keep all guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.
Jeff Naylor, Minneapolis
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As I watched the national coverage on television of the student walkouts across the country, I wondered what the NRA must be thinking. Five million members is significant, but take a look at what happened across the country at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Your prospects for new, younger members to replace your older, aging members do not look good.
Maybe you should join these young protesters to find a solution to gun violence? A quote often attributed to Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” The dinosaurs found this out the hard way.
David McCuskey, Long Lake
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More power to the students organizing for sensible gun law reform. This sad and complex issue will need a many-pronged approach. I encourage those students and the rest of us to also take proactive and ongoing action to be more inclusive. We need to recognize those on the social fringe for whom simple acts of kindness and a sense of belonging could change the way they experience the world in real and meaningful ways. This is not rocket science. This is an action all of us can take. Go forth and love a loner!
Bridget Clark, Minneapolis
Minnesota legislation can provide support in the schools
In the last three weeks, there have been three student deaths by suicide within the Twin Cities. As a social-work student interning at a performing arts high school, I cannot take this news lightly. I cannot help thinking, “Am I doing everything right?” and worrying that one day the news will be about a student from my school.
I feel fortunate to be at a school that understands the value of mental health and that has hired a contracted social work agency to provide mental health services for students. However, it was not until this year that I realized all schools do not have on-site social workers or mental-health resources at the ready.
With Mental Health Day on the Hill on Thursday at the State Capitol, I want to bring Minnesotans’ attention to legislation allocating funds to extend mental-health services to schools where services are not available (HF3378/SF1369). Additionally, transportation services would be funded for children in need of mental-health services when school is not in session. Working with children in need of mental-health services in a school, I want to emphasize the importance of this bill. It is important that there is support available for children in school, a place where they spend most of their waking hours. If the three recent suicides in our community are not enough evidence, what is?
Dylan Gray, Minneapolis
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Just wanted to let you know, for all of you who are discussing the need for better mental-health assistance for people in order to help prevent gun violence, the mental-health field will be shrinking. This is my prediction. Why, you ask? Simple. The licensing requirement to be, for example, a licensed psychologist, is a doctoral degree. The reimbursement from the health insurance company Medica, for example, is lower than what it paid 15 years ago. Some Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are paying even less than that. Those trying to fund the education to get the degree to get the job will not see this job as desirable or attainable. The student loans will greatly outweigh the income. The health insurance industry has little time for a group (mental-health care) with such little lobbying power. It also makes the mental-health practitioner feel undervalued. Which is a shame.
Kerry Anderson, Plymouth
The writer is a psychologist.
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Coffman erasure would rewrite history? First, know the history.
A March 14 letter writer protests against “the hoopla” over removing Lotus D. Coffman’s name from the University of Minnesota student union. He finds it as just one more example of punishing persons for past actions using contemporary standards. I think the students at the university have history on their side and that it was Coffman who tried to do the rewriting.
The university was reorganized in 1869, with the support of governors like Stephen Miller and William Rainey Marshall, who had been longtime abolitionists, had shown bravery in Civil War combat and had supported the ratification by popular vote of the 15th Amendment (giving African-American males the right to vote). The new president of the university, William Watts Folwell, was a Civil War veteran, and 23 of the early regents also served in the war. Some of them had volunteered to be officers in the regiments of the United States Colored Troops. These whites, if captured, were subject to Confederate laws demanding capital (death) penalties for aiding slaves.
Coffman, in pushing for racial segregation, was the violator of early university equality in admissions. The students in the Minnesota Student Association are righting that wrong.
Marjorie Bingham, Minnetonka
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As the March 14 letter writer stated: Rules, standards and expectations of daily life change. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that it is not only acceptable but actually prudent to periodically reevaluate those whom we’ve chosen to glorify? Putting someone’s name on a building, or a lake, is a glorification of that person’s history. And choosing to remove a person’s name from a building, or a lake, is nothing more than a choice to discontinue that glorification. That person’s history isn’t being rewritten. It will continue to exist, and those who are interested may continue to learn it.
Tyler Lekang, Minneapolis