The demonization continues, and why?

It is difficult to know how to respond to a Feb. 8 letter (“The union’s message isn’t being received”) regarding Education Minnesota President Denise Specht’s Feb. 6 commentary about education reform groups (“One flavor of reform leaves a bad taste”). It is unclear whether the letter writer even read Specht’s article, since he did not address any of its main points. Instead, he used it as a flimsy pretense to bash teachers, implying that they do not want to, or know how to, “work.”

What is heartbreaking is that this kind of knee-jerk response happens when people stop listening to one another. When a group of people become the “other” to us, we stop thinking about them as people who are probably more similar to us than different. Clearly, teachers are the “other” to the letter writer, as they are to many others in our community, based on the kinds of letters to the editor I have read in the Star Tribune over the last two decades.

Here’s an inconvenient solution: Contact your local school or teachers union office and ask to shadow a teacher for an entire day. I believe you would come away surprised at how hard — and how long — we work. I also believe that you would realize that you share a lot of values and goals with the teachers in your community. We are not the “other.”


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Teachers want better working conditions and better pay and benefits — is that really out of line with what other workers want?

I wish the bitterness toward teachers were based on a genuine concern for improving the education of children, but that would require a belief that education is actually pretty important and hard to do well on the cheap. No, it is based on a belief that whatever amount of money is invested in education, it’s too much.

My question: What would you rather invest in? A new Vikings stadium? A new office building for politicians in St. Paul? Oh, wait: The correct answer is nothing — the money should be returned to taxpayers. (But note the impressive impact of not investing in education in places like Mississippi, Alabama or Louisiana).

Michael Harwell, Forest Lake



With two central cities, why put it elsewhere?

I appreciate the Star Tribune’s focus on access to public transit, but the real problem here is the location itself (“Twin Cities’ new U.S. immigration building lacking bus service,” Feb. 10). Can anyone come up with a good reason for the immigration office to be located anywhere other than in Minneapolis or St. Paul? Our central cities already have all-day transit service. Extending bus service to the new location in west Bloomington is not going to help, since the site is still in the middle of nowhere, even by suburban standards. Practically any other commercial location, even within Bloomington, would be better.

The General Services Administration contract to relocate the immigration office to 9360 Ensign Av. S. should be canceled and the site’s selection investigated. Relocate the office to a place accessible to all, as required by law.




Yes, equip the police with overdose antidote

The Legislature should act immediately on the recommendation of Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and state Sen. Chris Eaton to authorize police officers and deputies to administer Narcan (also known as naloxone) to suspected opiate overdose patients (“We need your help to combat heroin,” Feb. 1). In nearly two decades as a paramedic, I saw dozens of people pulled back from the brink of death by the timely administration of naloxone.

Officers don’t need extensive medical training. Narcan is available in preloaded syringes for intramuscular injection, much like the lifesaving EpiPens used by people with severe allergies. The police are often on the scene before the paramedics, and getting the antidote into the patient’s system quickly can make the difference between life and death. We can’t prevent every heroin overdose, but we can help users get another chance to reconsider their drug of choice.

JACK SHEEHAN, Eden Prairie



Hennepin e-book system isn’t deficient

I have used the “OverDrive” system of the Hennepin County Library almost since its inception. I have not encountered any of the problems cited by a Feb. 10 letter writer. I have macular degeneration and can no longer read regular books. I have an iPad and regularly download either ePub books or Kindle books from the library site. I am finding that there are more and more e-books available as more books are digitalized. A user must become familiar with the system in order to fully utilize it.




Patrons want Osmo — perhaps you’ve heard

If the Minnesota Orchestra’s patron audience had the deciding voice on whether to retain Michael Henson as CEO of the orchestra board or rehire Osmo Vänskä as music director (“Vänskä reportedly says for healing, orchestra CEO ‘must go,’ ” Feb. 9), there would be absolutely no contest.


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My new hero: the person who shouted out “bring back Osmo” at Friday’s homecoming concert. We all wanted to do it but were being too darned “polite” (i.e., chicken)! This person is now immortalized in every review of the concert. Let’s not forget the need for a little civil disobedience in defense of a just cause.