Letters to the editor for March 7, 2014

Safe schools bill deceptive

To the Editor:

This letter is to alert readers to the dangers of House File 826 – a deceptive legislative bill called the “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act.” This bill is neither safe nor supportive. It passed the Minnesota House last session and is being taken up again this session in 2014.

Under the guise of bullying prevention, your children, teachers and schools will be subjected to a massive expansion of government bureaucracy that will shift local control on bullying issues over to a new agency called the School Climate Center within the Minnesota Department of Education. This bill forces schools to repeal their current anti-bullying policy and adopt a costly one-size-fits-all approach – with an annual $20 million price tag.

HF 826 permits anonymous reporting of bullying incidents, invasive individual tracking of children, action taken against students without required parental notification, and a nightmare of paperwork for teachers and administrators. Your children may be exposed to curriculum and activities that are mentally and emotionally harmful – all in the name of diversity and “inclusive curriculum.”

No one should be bullied, but HF 826 is not about bullying prevention.  To learn more about this bill, go to the Child Protection League Action website at www.cplaction.com.  After you learn the facts, you’ll join thousands of parents in Minnesota saying, “HF 826 – not with our kids, you don’t!”

Barb Anderson

Not bad pay for part time

To the Editor:

In reference to Roger Johnson’s Feb. 21 letter to the editor “Highly paid teachers,”,the days that teachers work from September to June is 171 days or 1,368 hours. Regular workers work 260 days or 2,080 hours. With a salary of $50,000 divided by 1,368 hours is $36.54 per hour worked.

This is taken from the District 11 calendar for the school year 2013 to 2014. Not bad for a part time job.

Maybe Mr. Johnson can explain why teachers don’t want anything to do with merit pay for work well done?

Matt Matushenko

Open door invitation

To the Editor:

For anyone who may have been following, in a Nov. 1, 2013 letter I invited Barb Anderson, Bryan Lindquist, and Laurie Thompson of the Parents Action League to meet with my gay son Eric. This was an invitation to get to know him, including asking questions one might ask of any 20-something young adult.

Three months later, this invitation has not been taken up. This is similar to Bryan Lindquist’s decision to not accept my invitations (Nov. 9 and Dec. 21, 2012) to a public debate about the Regnerus study he misrepresented.

It saddens me that it is not in you, at this juncture, to even meet and get to know one of the real life gay people you have seen fit to pre-judge.

On the one hand it angers me that you cannot show any commitment to try to understand the “other” you judge, to openness to new information, or to putting yourself in another’s shoes (empathy). On the other hand I think I understand a bit where you are coming from. When I was younger I pre-judged LGBT people negatively. However, I guess I kept the door open just enough to learn new information; to get to know LGBT persons as real people; and to evaluate my own pre-judging of an entire group of people.

In five to ten years, most people will have opened their doors. Young people, who happen to be LGBT, will have good odds of thriving. They will have a fair chance to start at the same non-judging starting line that other heterosexual youth begin at. I do fear for those LGBT young people who, in the interim, will needlessly be harmed in the face of pre-judging. A recent study tracked this kind of harm. Compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection, LGBT young adults who reported high levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse. It is not an unreasonable stretch to surmise that high levels of community rejection would further worsen these grim outcomes.

Nonetheless, I am witnessing an ever growing community surrounding LGBT youth that is supportive of them as whole human beings. Being judged by the content of their character rather than by who they are inclined to fall in love with is really all they ask.

I will preserve a glimmer of hope that someday Barb Anderson’s, Bryan Lindquist’s, Laurie Thompson’s, and all PAL members’ doors might courageously open a bit to new information and perhaps to new understanding. I maintain a flicker of hope that you can open your heart to get to know some of those you would otherwise banish.

Dan Rebek
Coon Rapids

Administrative salary argument vacuous

To the Editor:

What is Mark Jensen’s Feb. 28 letter to the editor complaining about? He reveals he knows little about his own Tea Party’s purposes. He admits they don’t like what they perceive are high administrative salaries for educators, but doesn’t bother to extend his own reasonable math for CEOs from business and apply it to our school district to prove his point. Finally, he makes my point, saying he “personally believes that teachers don’t make enough for what they do.” Voilà! So where’s his beef?

Jensen thinks it’s OK to be against high administrative costs, against union protection of teachers, against merit pay, be for vouchers and still be pro-public school teacher. Wake up and get real! Listen carefully to your Tea Party leaders. They are clear on their five-point program: In a nutshell, real Tea Partiers are content to defame government, defame public service and its employees, deregulate worker protections, defame unions and their only guarantee – seniority, and defame public education and all pensions. Make no mistake about understanding Tea Party goals. The quickest way to cut taxes is to destroy government and public service at all levels, including public education. So for Jensen to believe that it’s only administrative salaries that the Tea Party is complaining about exhibits an absurd naiveté.

I agree with Jensen’s numbers: Apple’s CEO makes 2.6 cents per hour per employee, UnitedHealth Group’s CEO makes 12.8 cents per hour per employee and Target’s CEO makes 3.2 cents per hour per employee. These multimillion dollar salaries are hundreds of times larger than their workers enjoy. If Jensen thinks such salary disparities are egregious, he doesn’t say so, instead implying that the math we both use is “ludicrous,” which it isn’t.

Can we use Jensen’s own math to prove that it’s the “overinflated administrative costs [that are] eating up school district budgets…?” No. The highest paid administrator in District 11 is the superintendent, at $180,00 per year. District employees number 5,000. Jensen’s math shows the “super” makes 1.77 cents per hour per employee. All the other administrators make far less. None are in the same range as those corporate leaders of whom Jensen apparently approves. Hypothesis unproven.

Again, where’s his beef?

Roger Johnson
Coon Rapids

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