Minnesota has a growing labor gap. Last year alone, 123,000 jobs went unfilled. In addition, we have an achievement gap that shows disparity between white students and minorities. Minnesota ranks third in the nation for racial disparity.
So why, then, would the state stand for the Minneapolis Public Schools cutting $33 million from their budgets (“Dayton proposes more aid to schools,” May 2) or St. Cloud schools having to “find” $11 million due to a special education shortfall from the state and feds? These are schools busting at the seams with young, aspiring students. Schools that already have increased class sizes and are being asked to cut counselors, security, deans, special-needs support. Schools with diverse (racially and economically) populations.
The state has a $329 million projected budget surplus. What can be more important than spending money educating our young people building their know-how and skills? Our economy depends on it.
Some of the areas that schools are looking to cut are important for diverse populations or are “front-line” staff that are critical for our students’ safety and security. To the latter, have we learned nothing from Florida and the many other school shootings?
It’s a sort of “Hunger Games” mentality for public schools fighting for dollars to serve their students. Do we one day want to be one of the states where budget shortages have gone on for too long and where teachers are currently striking and saying enough is enough?
Let’s be proactive. It’s time to do better for our kids. All of our kids. When the river rises up, we all rise.
I support Gov. Mark Dayton’s $138 million for schools.
Karen Schultz, Minneapolis
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A May 4 letter writer suggests that what the Minneapolis schools need instead of more funding is parents who care about education. I taught my entire career in north Minneapolis, and although some of the parents with whom I worked may have lacked time or resources to actively participate in school activities, I never met a parent who didn’t care about the education of their child.
Susan Longstaff, Backus, Minn.
The writer is a retired teacher.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Though some refuse to see it, all kids benefit from such programs
Kim Crockett (“Why be in such a hurry for our kids to grow up?” May 4) is against the permanent School Readiness Plus/Voluntary Pre-K program advocated by Gov. Mark Dayton. As a home economics major in 1961 who studied child development, and as a parent, grandparent, special-education teacher and, finally, administrator, I want to challenge Ms. Crockett. If she doesn’t want this for her children, that is her right, but our families and their children deserve these opportunities, not only in the metro area and large cities, but all around the state, like my hometown of Benson, Minn., which has funding for 30 children.
Almost all churches and synagogues have early childhood programs, and they are not baby sitting but are compelled to provide activities that prepare children for kindergarten.
In the 1970s, I worked at Reuben Lindh Learning Center in Minneapolis, where Dorothy Mollien had a vision to provide early childhood experiences from birth to 5 for low-income families and mothers who were developmentally disabled and mentally ill. I was a parent educator, and the children who had all the wraparound education and support services were ready for kindergarten. Many of the staff who developed former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ pre-k-to-5 initiative worked at Reuben Lindh and many successful programs like it.
Children from any economic status could benefit from the programs that have been developed with the legislative funding, for there are wraparound services including mental health, speech, health care, parenting education and more. We should have this opportunity in every district in the state.
I don’t know why the Star Tribune gives the Center of the American Experiment so much press, for those who represent the center seem mean-spirited and don’t care about equity for all.
Kay Kessel, Richfield
The writer is a retired assistant principal for the Minneapolis Public Schools.
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There were three sentences in Crockett’s commentary that got my attention. They include the passages “… child care should not be cheap; you are replacing the care of a parent”; “Why are we in such a hurry for our children to grow up?”; and “Children can learn all they need to know to get ready for kindergarten from their parents and other care providers.” Such statements tell me that Crockett has not spent much time in a first-grade classroom where very few of the students are reading at grade level and basic math skills are a mystery to them. Underneath her words rests a very big “I” and some inaccurate assumptions. Because she is “an expert mom,” she assumes that other families and parents will be able to replicate her personal situation. That has long been the problem with the “experts” from such organizations as the Center of the American Experiment. So many of them base their conclusions on what works for them personally, as they assume that the shoes they wear will fit everyone else’s foot.
George Larson, Brooklyn Park
AMERICA’S RACE LEGACY
Lynching memorials in Duluth, Alabama are needed reminders
On a summer evening in 1920, one year before my mother was born in Duluth, three young black men — Isaac McGhie, Elmer Jackson and Elias Clayton — were lynched from a light post at the corner of First Street and E. Second Avenue. A crowd of thousands had grown as the jail was broken into, and after a mock trial, the three men were beaten and dragged up the hill to their deaths. My grandfather, who would have been working in his office at the nearby Board of Trade, could have been among the crowd.
All through my childhood and to the present, my sisters and I have spent many idyllic days visiting my grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins. We loved Duluth and Lake Superior. No one ever spoke to us about the 1920 lynchings. By the time we became aware of the horrific event, there were no living relatives to question. One of my sisters researched this history in depth, and it has deeply affected all three of us. We visited Duluth’s powerful memorial to these men, the only such remembrance in the Midwest, held every June 15 on the site of the lynching.
My sister and her husband recently attended the opening of the national memorial to the victims of lynching — the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. (“As Americans, ‘this is a past we have to confront,’ ” April 27.) The man responsible for this new museum and memorial is Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery. He is a brilliant and tireless civil-rights lawyer, who believes we must educate ourselves about the history of lynching and racial terror in our country before we can really face the present racism and make changes. I urge everyone to visit the memorial in Duluth and the EJI website. The grave site bench for Isaac, Elmer and Elias reminds us of our responsibility in the eternal fight to “bring the truth to light.”
Sarah Sivright, Minneapolis