Another excellent article — “$600M a year, yet achievement gap persists,” June 2 — shows that no matter how much funding schools get, they never close the achievement gap. Why not? Because struggling students need different forms of instruction to engage and enable their brains for learning that are rarely found in reading curricula.
For example, neuroscience and other research studies have found that music-making has a significant impact on brain development and reading achievement, and that a child who cannot keep a steady beat usually struggles with reading. Since 2016, the Minnesota Legislature has funded the nonprofit Rock ‘n’ Read Project to conduct a pilot to investigate using a singing-to-read software. In last year’s nine pilot schools, one-third of the singing fourth- and fifth-graders went up a level in reading, such as from “Does Not Meet” standards to “Partly Meets,” on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) after only 14 hours on the program. This is phenomenal, statistically significant gain. In contrast, the rest of the fourth- and fifth-graders at those nine schools did not make significant gain overall in MCA levels. Students scoring at “Does Not Meet” in 2017 were still there in 2018. It’s time to call on all schools to find and use research- and evidence-based forms of instruction for struggling readers.
Ann C. Kay, Minnetonka
The writer is a music teacher.
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As usual with articles about the persistence of the “achievement gap,” this one barely mentioned parents. Yet much of the $600 million being spent on this problem by the state’s schools is devoted to repairing children broken by conditions at home. Overburdened by poverty, long working hours, child-care costs and lack of skills, too many parents lack the training, time and energy to supplement their children’s education.
A child arriving in school without parental support at home is already behind in the game. Attempts to make up that deficit in school are costly, and — as the Star Tribune article makes clear — largely ineffective. The “achievement gap” problem will persist until we start including parents in the solution.
Jack Maloney, St. Paul
LAKE NAME PERPLEXITY
Minnesotans can learn from New Zealand and its Maori people
Names are an important part of any identity, so it’s understandable that there is much emotion swirling around the Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun debate (“Is it Bde Maka Ska or Lake Calhoun?” June 2). Putting the legal elements aside, I’d like to draw attention to the model set by New Zealand. After spending a month there this winter, we became very aware that the language and culture of the Maori (the indigenous peoples) is embedded in all of New Zealand society. Maori is considered one of the official national languages; all federal government signage includes both English and Maori languages on and in official buildings and sites, and it is used in official greetings.
Admittedly, New Zealand is a much smaller nation, and while there are many Maori tribes, most recognize the version of their language we experienced. Minnesota is home to 11 recognized tribal nations, seven Anishinaabe and four Dakota, so indigenous languages vary by region. But we do know which peoples resided where before the Europeans.
Minnesota has only about 1 million more folks than New Zealand. That small nation is actively working toward a clear and focused inclusiveness on an equal footing; respectful partnership as a daily norm. Maybe we could take a lesson.
Kathleen Peterson, Winona, Minn.
‘A BUMPER YEAR FOR BOORS’
Of which a commentary writer is one. A British class snob at work.
How telling that Matt Potter, a British media elite, would choose to write about the boorishness of President Donald Trump and some of the U.K. politicians on the right of whom he doesn’t approve (“It’s a bumper year for boors in Britain,” June 2). Like Humpty Dumpty, he doesn’t define what he means by a boor. It means exactly what he wants it to mean. No more and no less.
As it is, most any “educated” British citizen knows exactly what he means. Merriam-Webster online gives “peasant” as the first definition of “boor.” If you are in the British lower class, well, that’s what you are, whether you own it or not. But if you are in the British upper class you are never truly a boor, even if you are rude and insensitive. In fact, you are more likely to identify with what Power Thesaurus online lists as the two top antonyms of boor: “king” and (obviously) “gentleman.”
Well, pardon me, old chap, but I’ll take a good old American boor over your British aristocratic snob any day.
Craig Affeldt, Vadnais Heights
Letter writer gets it exactly wrong on wind and solar vs. risky nuclear
The June 2 letter “If we are going to have any new deal, it should involve nuclear energy” contained startling inaccuracies. It claimed that wind and solar energy are “exceedingly expensive” and nuclear energy “relatively inexpensive.” Exactly the opposite is true. Not only are wind and solar energy more economical than all other forms of nonrenewable energy, but the prices keep coming down, especially for solar. What’s more, wind and solar energy produce more jobs than do nonrenewable sources.
Also, the production of wind and solar energy does not contain the potential for disaster that has occurred with the production of nuclear energy. And don’t get me started on the problems of storage of spent nuclear waste, for which we still have no solution in our country. It’s past time that we stop spreading misinformation about wind and solar energy, as well as other forms of clean renewable energy.
Louis Asher, Vadnais Heights
Gratitude is due for what got done with collaboration. More, please.
Thank you, Star Tribune, for summarizing the compromises of the Legislature in the “Legislative Scorecard” on June 2 (Page B3).
To the legislators who worked hard at their party’s agenda but saw the integrity of working with the “other” side, thank you for getting bills passed on health issues, elder care, driving safety, sexual assault, wage theft and election security. You did well together.
My hope is that in reflecting on your accomplishments, you also see where you need to continue to work together. Especially in the areas of transportation funding and firearm safety, I can see many ways of compromising to arrive at some progress in each of these sensitive issues. Please vow to sit down together — in plain sight of the Minnesota public — and calmly talk through your positions and listen to the “other” side’s positions. Then, work hard to find ways of “giving” some to make headway on solving these two tough issues.
As someone who is firmly on one side, I’m happy to say that while I didn’t see everything I wanted enacted this year, I can at least see the value of compromise to get a bit of what I wanted. Let’s work at continuing to talk, listen, and work together. Please — no more entrenchment. And, no more sound bites that leave no room for negotiation on things that need conversation.
Jim Stromberg, North Oaks