As I began reading “Megamall strikes new bargain in job market” (June 12), I thought, well, finally someplace with the stature of the Mall of America is going to start really treating workers with respect.
My next thought after that was it must be hiking its minimum wage substantially to start the process of retaining workers, and, the story said, it kind of did. All the way to $9.50 (50 cents above statutory minimum!) for part-timers and $11 an hour for bearing the heavy responsibility of showing kids a good time on the rides in the amusement park. Then, it brings in nonprofit agencies to help the workers find places to live, etc.
So the mall would rather pay nonprofits through likely short-term contracts than hike the pay scale to a livable wage in the first place. There’s no mention of any other basic benefits such as health care and discount cards for public transit. The latter is left up to the nonprofits.
The tenor of the story, that the megamall wants to recruit and retain workers, is supposed to make us readers think: “What a wonderful thing they’re doing!” Well, not this reader. I’ll think it’s a wonderful thing when the mall takes the real lead in retail by paying living wages or better and providing all of its workers, part-time included, affordable health care. Those are the true minimum things necessary to give workers a sense of dignity and well-being.
Kevin Driscoll, St. Paul
Resistance to unions runs counter to the vision
Teacher autonomy has been fundamental to chartering since the Legislature passed the first charter school law 25 years ago this month. That includes the right to choose to unionize. Education leaders who obstruct that process are not true to the original vision of chartering (“Charter school hit by union pushback,” June 17).
That vision was developed, in part, by Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who introduced the concept of charter schools as an opportunity for teachers to fully contribute their professional expertise and leadership in education. His vision has come full circle with the creation of teacher-led public charter and district schools around the nation, and with the first union-initiated charter school authorizer in the country, the Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools.
The issue here isn’t about creating a union. The issue is allowing teachers the autonomy to voice their opinions, implement new learning strategies and use their expertise to help students realize their full potential.
Ember Reichgott Junge, Minneapolis
The writer, an attorney, is a former DFL Minnesota senator and was author of Minnesota’s charter school law in 1991.
Stop viewing them as heroes; instead, try teamwork
Two weeks ago, the Star Tribune wrote several articles about the exorbitant price of the search for the next superintendent of Minneapolis schools.
At that time, I had the inclination to share with you the insight of another perspective on superintendents. As a teacher of 33 years, I know about the rotating door of new superintendents — every three to five years in most school districts in the state. This is a system of people who believe in hero-worshiping, only to reset this cycle every few years.
There are no top-down solutions to education issues. Teachers see the issues with schools and, given the management structure that is implemented at, for instance, Google, could make real improvements. Google has teams; everyone has a responsibility to contribute.
Now look at the June 16 Star Tribune, about the St. Paul superintendent being the subject of buyout talks “amid criticism of her leadership.” She’s only six months into a new contract. Another hero bites the dust. Education problems are complex and difficult for us to face. Obviously, superintendents are not willing or able to get this started.
Robin Eggum, Inver Grove Heights
Lofts vs. the 40-story tower? It’s still de facto segregation
I applaud the Star Tribune’s editorial (“Tax credits misused on costly artist lofts,” June 17) stating that “government officials have a responsibility to make sure that developments done at taxpayers expense do not worsen de facto segregation.” But this statement ignores the responsibility of government officials to ensure that all residential developments do not worsen de facto segregation.
The editorial is symptomatic of the uneven commitment to racial and economic integration in our community. A case in point is an editorial (“Mpls. should approve condo tower,” May 16) supporting the proposed 40-story residential development by Alatus in Minneapolis’ St. Anthony Falls Historic District. This development is little more than a residential tower for white privilege that heightens racial and economic segregation.
At a recent City Council subcommittee meeting, Council Members Lisa Goodman and Jacob Frey voiced support for the Alatus development and called for more and taller residences in the city. Their stance parallels the Star Tribune’s policy of encouraging integration with taxpayer money but inadvertently supporting de facto segregation financed by private capital. Together, these two policies illustrate the contradictions in gradualism that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights advocates rightfully condemn.
The City Council will soon have an opportunity to deny the proposed Alatus development and give meaning to its concern for desegregation. Hopefully, the Star Tribune likewise will reverse its hypocritical stance. These actions could be a start toward a more moral and just direction in our city’s development.
JOEL NELSON, Minneapolis
That letter about a ‘petulant’ Obama sure was revealing
If anyone wanted an example of how the attitudes of average Americans might help radicalize someone to the point of a criminal act, a June 16 letter would be a good one.
Our president, the writer says, should “put on his big-boy pants and stop acting like a petulant child.” Perhaps what the writer really hates is that a black man has attained this office and that he executes it with intellect, confidence, courage and style. If President Obama were a petulant child, he would have run away crying at the disrespect he has been shown, years before now.
Then the writer suggests that “when we accept refugees from the Middle East … we consider Christians who don’t have nefarious motives.” That sounds like the outlook of someone ready to gallop off to the Middle East and slay infidels. But wait, that happened several hundred years ago.
I would hope that the writer lives through a Donald Trump presidency, as that is just what he deserves. The trouble is, the rest of us would also have to live through it.
Jane Thomson, St. Paul