About that comment feature

Regarding Nancy Barnes July 13 column, "Reader comments open way to freewheeling debate": It seems that the debate got a little too freewheeling for the civilized sensibilities of Barnes and Will Tacy, the online managing editor.

But never fear. They've solved the problem. Now the Star Tribune is anticipating in advance what types of stories might spark "ugly" comments they deem lacking in "community standards." Since the Star Tribune is not able to sufficiently control the debate, now we are simply not allowed to comment on these stories at all.

If the Star Tribune can't handle it, then it should remove the comments feature all together. Or it could simply not have the comments visible on the same page as the stories. Just require one more click to see the comments. No one who doesn't what to read the comments section would have to read them. This would be better than unleashing the thought police on the uncivilized folk.


On public assistance, and giving birth

In response to Rep. Patti Fritz's letter "Abortion statistics / Family cap law hurts" (July 11): I was an employment counselor for 14 years, understand all of the dynamics of people on public assistance and saw many clients having more children than they could afford.

Responsible adults, who know that they can't afford another child, don't have one -- anything else is blatant manipulation of the programs. Any client, who knows the rules and consequences and has another child, is playing the victim and assuming that we'll all feel sorry for the children (and who doesn't?). Buying into this behavior only makes us all codependent. If the child suffers from neglect or abuse because the parent isn't getting more money, that becomes another issue.

Ultimately, anyone involved in this business is responsible to the client within the boundaries of their job, but none is responsible for the client and the choices that they make.


Attending to the crisis in reading

Kudos to John Coy in bringing our attention to the crisis in reading with not only teens but younger children as well (Opinion Exchange, July 15). I agree that the crisis is particularly severe with boys but want readers to understand that this issue does affect girls as well. As a high school library media specialist and former classroom teacher, I have seen the crisis firsthand.

We need an all-encompassing program that does encourage reading in the home by parents who not only read to children but also who model the behavior by reading for their own enjoyment. We cannot ignore the fact that this is not just about reading for pleasure, though. It is also about reading for knowledge and the strategies that need to be taught for different kinds of reading (i.e. science, technical, literature, etc.).

We must also meet students where they are at to turn them on to reading. The popularity of graphic novels which are visually appealing to this generation's style of learning have wide appeal. These are not the "Archie" comics of our youth, but are fiction and nonfiction books that encompass the classics, biographies, literature and, yes, action stories with super heroes. Boys, in particular, are especially enamored with this type of reading.

Everyone in education sees the need to encourage, teach and promote different types of literacies: information literacy, visual literacy, tech literacy, etc. That need must be served by professionals being put in place to teach, model and guide students in their reading endeavors. At the same time library media specialists teaching literacy skills along with reading specialists and classroom teachers must advocate for reading across the curriculum programs. Surely this crisis is, as Coy points out, threatening the future employability of our youth, but it also threatens the depth of personal, creative and cultural growth of boys and girls alike.


Home birth and the doctors' trade unions

Regarding Jennifer Block's commentary, "A turf war over the maternity market" (Opinion Exchange, July 13), I think at first it is extremely hard for people to believe that: 1) doctors and their trade unions ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) and the AMA (American Medical Association, don't necessarily have the woman's or baby's well being as their No. 1 concern, and 2) that modern technology can actually do more harm than good. These two facts defy logic at first, but once one dissects them and does the research, it all starts to make sense.

Thank you to Block for all the work she has done to get the word out. Please see the International Cesarean Awareness Network's response to the home birth resolution, and for more information: www.ican-online.com.


Her well-informed choice

As someone who has experienced both a hospital and a home birth, I can attest to Jennifer Block's assertion that hospital maternity care is not supportive of the natural labor and birth process. My first son's birth began with induction via Cytotec and ended in a c-section. My second son, born just seven weeks ago, was delivered on his own terms (and mine) in a birth tub in our dining room. I chose my second son's birth setting based on the sound research Block cites as well as my own experience: that medical practices and hospitals are making it next to impossible for women to have vaginal births after c-section (VBACs) without unnecessary and intrusive interventions based on fear of malpractice suits.

I am a highly educated and highly responsible woman -- that the AMA should suggest otherwise because I choose to birth at home is not only ridiculous and insulting, it demonstrates an irresponsible disregard for scientific evidence. I wanted both a healthy baby and a natural birth process; generally, the two go hand in hand. For me, the only place to get that is at home.