I wonder: How quickly — and readily — will the Vikings organization spend $1.1 million trying to clean up the public-relations mess it is creating by not being able to find $1.1 million in its $1 billion stadium budget to build with glass that would prevent birds crashing into the walls of windows?

Brian McDermott, Minneapolis

• • •

In light of the fact that the Vikings won’t spend $1 million to alter the glass, maybe we should incorporate a little irony into the situation and nickname the new stadium “The Birdhouse.” In some ways, it actually does look like a birdhouse that’s been tipped over onto its back.

Willis Woyke, Columbia Heights


Jewish fighters have a proper motivation

Having been a “lone soldier” myself who volunteered to fight for the reborn state of Israel when it was invaded by five heavily armed Arab armies in 1948, I take exception to the July 24 letter writer’s contention that all such individuals should be “prosecuted as terrorists.” Perhaps I can help the letter writer understand the motivation of these young men who recently have gone to defend Israel’s right to exist when groups like Hamas have stated publicly and in their charter that their avowed aim is to destroy Israel, the only Jewish homeland, simply because it is Jewish.

I was in London in World War II, and I can’t begin to tell you how grateful we Brits were to see those brave American “lone soldiers” who had come to fight with us against Nazi aggression long before America finally entered the war. Terrorists? Hardly!

Jason Fenton, Crystal

• • •

The Israeli Defense Forces are the army of a democratically elected government, with the primary objectives of defending Israel’s borders and its citizens. The Somali individuals that the July 24 letter writer refers to for comparison have joined Al-Shabab in Somalia and are engaged primarily in the practice of terrorizing civilian populations.

Although it is a fact that civilians have been killed by the IDF in the most current war and in past conflicts, the difference is that there are attempts to minimize such casualties through text messaging, phone calls and warning shots. Still, these efforts are mitigated by Hamas’ brutal grip on its citizens and its forcing of Palestinians to serve as human shields.

If the letter writer has evidence of Al-Shabab previewing suicide bombings and trying to minimize casualties of innocents, that information should be shared.

Aaron Goldstein, Minnetonka



Best efforts can rise above circumstances

As a former teacher in an urban school district (St. Louis) who also has given out many pencils (unlike Melinda Bennett, I didn’t care to keep track), I am deeply dismayed by the July 24 counterpoint “ ‘Effective’ teaching? First, meet basic needs.” While I share Bennett’s concern, I cannot agree with her conclusion that the “quality of her instruction is not going to make a bit of a difference” until her students’ basic needs are met. This claim has been proven false time and again by academic studies and excellent schools; students from all socioeconomic backgrounds are capable of academic success.

Of course, Bennett’s job is more challenging than those of most other teachers, which is exactly why we need skilled teachers in classrooms like hers. But, more important, we need educators who know that talented, tireless and passionate teachers can change a student’s life outcome regardless of whether or not basic needs are being met at home. Unfortunately, without this knowledge and the correlative belief in the transformative power of education, the battle is lost long before a teacher gives out the first pencil of the school year.

Isak Tranvik, Robbinsdale

• • •

I spent the past 3½ years as a reading specialist in a Minneapolis charter school and can attest to Bennett’s claim. Our school tried every educational strategy in order to raise test scores, with little or no success. The newest program is designed to improve teacher effectiveness by having mentor teachers evaluate classroom teachers. Admittedly, the school has been using the program for only one year, but test scores were well below accepted standards. Scores will continue to be subpar because the program fails to address one important factor: lack of a supportive and nurturing home life. If a student comes to school tired, frightened, abused, neglected, hungry or dirty, how can he or she be expected to concentrate or do homework enabling them to master basic skills?

Our students receive free uniforms, breakfast, lunch, winter coats, health screening and school supplies. And most of them return at the end of the day to homeless shelters, overcrowded apartments, crime-filled neighborhoods, parents uninvolved or overwhelmed, and very little support for what their children are doing in school. Most (75 percent) read well below grade level, with math scores equally poor.

The teachers in these classrooms are some of the most talented, dedicated and hardworking people I have had the pleasure of knowing. Until parents become actively involved in the educational process and spend time every day reading to their children and assisting with homework, the problems associated with underachievement will continue to affect learning and impact future success. Although there are many other suggestions for improving students’ skills, parental involvement tops the list.

Linda Cohen, Minneapolis



Not sure the circus is a credible source

It seems to me that every time the Star Tribune prints a positive article about elephants (“For our respect, not our amusement,” Opinion Exchange, July 23), Ringling Bros. has to chime in and steadfastly deny treating animals in an abusive way (Readers Write, July 24). Ringling Bros. must fear something, or it would just ignore the issue.

I totally agree with the author of the original article. Let’s stop having any elephants at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. They don’t belong there.

Ursula Pelka, Edina

• • •

The July 24 letter writer doesn’t address the biggest issue: Circus elephants are prisoners of Ringling Bros., exploited for profits. These intelligent animals have no control over their lives; they are chained and transported around the country like freight. They lead depressingly unnatural lives.

We must protect elephants from poachers and habitat destruction. Imprisoning them for entertainment doesn’t help elephants. Circuses must evolve or go extinct.

Mike Chutich, St. Paul