Like current debate, the past is polarized
Jonathan Zimmerman has a good point about textbooks ("Funny thing about history: It has more than one angle," Opinion Exchange, March 20). There often is more than one viewpoint. Although Zimmerman's solution -- two texts -- is impractical for logistical and financial reasons, it seems that a clever editor could combine the two.
This is exactly what the intelligent design community has been asking for in the area of evolution: Let the evidence against it be placed next to the evidence for it. But that educationally and scientifically sound proposal has been repeatedly shot down by the evolutionary monopoly. What are they afraid of?
ROSS S. OLSON, MINNEAPOLIS
• • •
I hold a master's degree in history, and one thing the master's program emphasized was that history is like a detective story, and objectivity is the key to unearthing the truth. We only know for sure that something happened: What exactly happened and why it happened are open to interpretation, depending on the sources. Even primary sources, such as letters from the participants, could be biased. That is why professors emphasized exploring many points of view -- conservative, liberal, communist, whatever.
Liberals and conservatives do their causes an injustice when they deliberately bend the truth or choose to ignore uncomfortable evidence. I have always searched for the "straight skinny," however uncomfortable it may be, and however many cherished icons were smeared or shattered.
MICHAEL MAYER, LAKEVILLE
• • •
Assertions such as "the Founding Fathers envisioned America as a Christian nation" are not merely an interpretation of history, but something that is without historical basis. Anyone who sees historical reality as carrying a "left-wing bias" has no right to be deciding any educational curriculum.
NATHAN WAGNER, EDEN PRAIRIE
obama and israel
Support our one true ally in the Mideast
Concerning the Obama administration's hard stand against Israel ("New friction over plans for Jerusalem," March 25): Israel is our only faithful ally in the region. Israelis share our values and are the only ones in the conflict to be held accountable to follow rules, while Israel's extremist neighbors don't have rules.
The construction of homes on rightful Israeli territory is not the real issue. It is the fact that Israel exists at all. Israel's enemies will use this latest issue of Jerusalem settlements as a red herring in order to achieve their real unending goal. The Obama administration is emboldening the radicals in the region. Support our real ally -- Israel.
JON COHN, ROSEMOUNT
racial reading gap
Complex causes, but solution needs parents
Since 1965 with the Head Start program, and more recently with the No Child Left Behind program, the federal government has tried unsuccessfully to close the reading achievement gap ("Minnesota wrestles with reading gap," March 25). For decades, reading experts have investigated possible causes. Out of these studies has come a powerful concept called the Mathew Effects in Reading.
The term implies that students who read more get better and those who read less fall behind. Professor John Guthrie at the University of Maryland has just found from his sample of students that African-American students read less than their Caucasian counterparts. Although the causes of the reading achievement gap are complex, Guthrie's finding suggests its remedy.
The human brain, like the muscles of our body, responds positively when it is used. One way to help close the reading achievement gap is for teachers as well as parents to motivate our students to read more.
JAY SAMUELS, MINNEAPOLIS
Mini billboards as well as big safety concerns
As a resident of Minnetonka, I fully support the city's objective of limiting billboard advertising ("Minnetonka looks to boot 'nuisance' bus benches," March 25). I also support removing bus benches that function as small billboards, especially since we rarely see people sitting on them.
In addition, I believe that the benches should be removed for safety reasons. Sitting on benches within a few feet of the curb lane of Hwy. 7, for example, with car, truck and bus traffic speeding past at more than 50 miles per hour, is hardly a safe place to be, especially in bad weather.
BILL STEINBICKER, MINNETONKA
Don't miss Mother Nature's surprise party
Driving down Summit Avenue yesterday, I got the definite feeling that something is up. I couldn't see it. Grass is still in its brown and yellow winter garb. Trees stand naked. There's not even the first inkling of crocus or daffodil.
Still, the atmosphere was charged. The branches of elm and oak seemed to tremble with anticipation. I felt sure that, inches underground, albino seedlings were pushing up, starving for sun, desperate to commit photosynthesis.
Mother Nature is planning the biggest surprise party around, and we are all the honored guests. We will soon find ourselves totally immersed in intricate and unbounded beauty.
Let's try to notice and be grateful.
SANDY STRYKER, ST. PAUL
A March 25 editorial incorrectly said that taxpayers fund U.S. Postal Service salaries. The agency self-funds its operations.