The article “Peas in a learning pod” (Aug. 7) claims that learning pods — in which families help one another with distance learning by consolidating resources and jointly home schooling their children — are “raising questions about how the pandemic could widen the achievement gap and contribute to educational inequities.”

“Raising” questions? These questions should already have been front and center when Minneapolis mandated distance learning in the first place because we all knew this decision — necessary or not — would inevitably hurt poor families the most.

Yet instead of holding distance learning accountable for its negative consequences, this article seemingly blames parents who are just trying mitigate the consequences. To those who think they should do what’s best for their children, the article delivers this warning from Minneapolis Public School officials: “Inevitably, [learning pods] will lead to different outcomes between students who have access to those resources and those who don’t.” It also quotes University of Minnesota Prof. Amanda Sullivan who says learning pods are “inherently exclusionary” and will “further harm” marginalized students.

These comments make it sound as if parents are stealing public school funds to form a top-secret Wall Street Academy. But as the article finally acknowledges, these parents are just trying to adapt and are rightly calling on the state to help less fortunate families do the same.

Educational inequality has always been a serious problem, which will only worsen as long as distance learning continues. But shaming people for following their paternal instincts is no solution.

Kyle Triggs, Sartell, Minn.

• • •

As COVID causes concern across the nation, many schools are facing the difficult decision of whether or not to resume in person. Most would agree that keeping children at home is the best way to stop the spread of the virus; however, most would also agree that school is important for a child’s socio-emotional development. I agree with both these statements, but another concern for me is the safety and protection of our children. Do we not only have a duty to protect children from the virus, but also from those who abuse them?

The school environment is a fantastic way for the maltreatment of a child to be discovered and for swift intervention services to be put into place. There needs to be a discussion of how the identification of maltreatment can still be possible and feasible during this pandemic. Whether that involves in-person visits by a social worker to families who do not attend virtual learning or increased follow-up with children who seem to be presenting signs of abuse, the answer is not clear. It is clear that school administrations along with the government need to have this be a focus of their discussions and put some type of services and monitoring in place.

Children depend on us, now more than ever, to protect them. Protection from the virus could prove to be deadly, if other dangers are not properly screened for and monitored.

Stephanie Skonieczny, Columbia Heights


Yet again, that stance is wrong

It is another calendar quarter, which means it’s time for Mary Christine Bader to explain yet again, from the comforts of Wayzata, why the gravest issue of the day is the only slice of Jewish sovereignty on the planet (“Admit it: The two-state solution is dead,” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 10). This time, Bader explains that the only available remedy for Israel’s “colonialism” (Jewish historical continuity be damned) is the erasure of the Jewish state. Apparently the empty synagogues and unmarked Jewish graves throughout the Middle East are not evidence enough of its consequences.

Bader is not the first to suggest — in the name of human rights — that Jewish lives are worth pennies on the dollar, nor will she be the last. But for those of us who have experienced what it means to face an ideology that deems abhorrent the notion of Jewish self-determination, we can take comfort in knowing that for the majority of the world, “never again” means exactly what it says.

Judah Druck, St. Louis Park


We need stimulus — via Congress

The faltering American economy, ravaged by the recent pandemic, seems much in need of additional federal stimulus. Free markets cannot fully function in lockdowns, and it’s times such as these that relying on Washington’s mighty spending capacity is prudent.

But Article I of the United States Constitution explicitly grants Congress, not the president, the power of the purse, and any spending package, no matter how sorely needed, requires the approval of the legislative branch and the representatives of the people who sit there.

President Donald Trump’s recent executive order is far beyond his powers as president to issue (“Trump’s relief plan is full of caveats,” Aug. 10).

In our democratic republic, we do not make public policy by executive fiat; congressional dysfunction, as frustrating as it may be, is not a constitutional license for the White House to act on its own.

It was wrong when President Obama Barack did this — and he acted unilaterally often — and it’s equally dangerous to our democracy when his successor does.

Congress, in addition to finding a way to function better in times of crisis, must also take long-needed action to constrain the modern imperial presidency and reclaim those critical constitutional legislative powers that belong only to it.

Andy Brehm, Minneapolis


Slippery slope to ... accountability

Noah Feldman, in arguing that it is a slippery slope to attempt to dissolve the National Rifle Association (“Attorney general’s assault on the NRA is dangerous,” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 8), suggests, “What if this were Alabama and the organization were the NAACP? Or Tennessee and the ACLU?” To that I would say, fine, if those organizations misused the donations given to them in a display of lavish greed like the leaders of the NRA allegedly did. If a poll were taken, I doubt you would find any NRA members who would say, yes, I gave money to the NRA so that Wayne LaPierre and other executives could spend it on private jets.

It matters not what the organization promotes. If individuals within the group use funds like they are their own personal piggy bank, they are defrauding their contributors and should be held accountable. If several leaders in any group displayed the same disregard, the organization should be dissolved and replaced by one that uses the funds given to it in the way it says they will be used.

Warren Blechert, Brooklyn Park


Serve food, not germs

It struck me right away that the workers in Monday’s front-page photo who were so kindly preparing food for those in need had bare hands in the food, and one had her mask off her nose (“Centuries-old idea fills new needs”). It seems more appropriate that they should be wearing disposable gloves and wearing masks in the manner that best protects their clients.

I applaud their unselfish efforts and dedication to serve others, but perhaps they could take it one step further and improve a bit on their hygiene practices.

Susan McShane, Minneapolis



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