Just as with teachers, get rid of the bad ones

I have read all the letters I can stand about how the chief of police (present and former) and the police conduct review board or anyone else is responsible for allowing police misconduct. True responsibility lies with the small number of police officers in question and with the people who block or resist amending the police contract so that the very, very few police officers who engage in this behavior are allowed to stay in their positions even after misconduct is clearly documented.

Please reread comments made by John Delmonico in an Aug. 5 article (“No room for racist cops, Minneapolis union head says”). He said that the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation “is committed to working with the chief in improving cultural and racial sensitivity training and reviewing (the department’s) hiring practices to ensure that we hire officers who understand that racism and discrimination of any kind … will not be tolerated.”

However, perhaps it is more important to look at what he didn’t say. He didn’t say anything about reviewing how or if officers are evaluated, disciplined and/or terminated in light of such behavior. Without these tools, police commanders are really working with one hand tied behind their backs.

As a teacher, I know that there are a few teachers who will never be effective in their work, especially with certain populations of students, no matter how much training they get. There is growing recognition and support from parents, school boards and even the president of the United States that these individuals need be to removed from the classroom and retrained for work for which they are better suited. Why isn’t the same conversation happening around policing?


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If not about learning, create a minor league

An editorial from the Chicago Tribune, reprinted in the Aug. 30 Short Takes, failed to understand that colleges and universities are institutions of higher learning first. Or at least they used to be. The case of Johnny Manziel once again demonstrates how far the commitment to higher education has fallen.

As we complain that America’s student athletes are being exploited, we seem to forget that America’s education system is failing the core of its young citizens. With student loan debt now well more than a trillion dollars nationwide, it seems preposterous that we engage in debate over the merits of a small chunk of students who will leave college with no debt and having basked in the limelight of America’s obsession with collegiate sports. Student-athletes represent a mere fraction of the collegiate student body, yet we find ourselves preoccupied over the fates of these individuals as if our very lives depended upon it.

Colleges and universities exist to train and educate the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. They don’t exist to be some sort of minor league for future sports talent. If Manziel’s proponents wish to lift his status above that of the American college student, they should endeavor to skip the “college” part of the equation and create a true minor league for the NFL and other professional sports.


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More ways to pay for air conditioning

We can’t afford air conditioning in Minneapolis schools so that our struggling students can adhere to the barely adequate school schedule we’ve laid out for them, but we can afford $1.5 billion or more so that people living along the proposed Southwest light-rail line can have another form of transportation in addition to cars, carpools, buses, taxis and bicycles. Oh, to be free of the burden of common sense!


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Minneapolis schools closed for part of last week because a lack of air conditioning made for dangerous conditions in which students couldn’t learn. Meanwhile, the public is about to pay for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The team already has an air-conditioned, profitable place to play. A project to retrofit all our schools for A/C and energy efficiency or building a stadium both would create jobs. Let’s pause and think about wants vs. needs.

Kevin Whelan, Minneapolis

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That bruising contact must have been a shock

Now that NFL retirees have won a $765 million settlement for concussions, etc., maybe we can concentrate on getting a settlement for mountain climbers who’ve suffered injuries, or sky divers, or skateboarders.

NFL players are and were compensated well for knowing that they were in a contact sport where injuries occur. If the players would have taken some of that pay and bought medical/injury insurance like the rest of us, they could have seen how people live in the real world.

We need to get realistic about lawsuits. If you decide to risk injury in a job or sport, then take the risk. Don’t coming crying about it later.

CRAIG ANDERSON, Brainerd, Minn.