Thursday, November 26, 2020
Distance Learning

Readers Write: Distance learning, homeless shelter at Bethesda Hospital, ‘Mark Trail’ comic

My wife has been a teacher in Minneapolis since she graduated from college in 1982. She has always worked hard and has an excellent reputation. She has a master’s degree, and if she were in any other profession she would be earning at least double what she is paid.

Her love for her students and the feedback she gets from them has kept her in the profession despite the income disparity.

Since the pandemic hit, forcing the schools to close, I have seen her workload go from 10- to 12-hour days to nearly constant work morning to night and on weekends. I don’t have to ask her anymore what she is doing because the answer is always the same: “Working!” Even over the summer months her team would work without pay to plan on how they could make distance learning more effective. I was so impressed with this dedication and know it was something I would never sign up for.

So I was not surprised to hear about the survey that indicates that a third of all Minnesota teachers are considering leaving the profession. It is impossible to get the same connection to students through a computer screen, and I suspect, like my wife, other teachers are in this for that personal interaction.

I think the only way to prevent an exodus is for some kind of significant change to the current program. A combination of finding a way for some face-to-face time along with support for planning daily lessons might be a start.

Steve Holm, Mahtomedi

• • •

Like everyone else across the metro area who has school-aged children, I am keenly interested in what the plan for education looks like in these most uncertain times. After watching the most recent virtual school board meeting for School District 197 — in which my three children are enrolled and where I work as an educator — I cannot help but point out the glaring hypocrisy that the school board feels it’s safe enough to send staff and students back into an enclosed school environment, yet it clearly doesn’t feel it’s safe enough for its members to attend in-person school board meetings.

In my other life as a captain in our community’s paid-on-call fire department, I accept a certain level of risk each time I respond to a call. I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would send my crew into an environment that I, myself, would not deem safe enough to enter. After all, a leader is responsible for those in their charge. To that end, if District 197 school board leaders do not feel safe holding in-person meetings, why are they so willing to view staff and students as proverbial canaries in the coal mine? Furthermore, what message does that send to those on the front lines?

Jay Miller, Mendota Heights

HOMELESS SHELTERS

No use dismissing neighbor concerns outright

The articles on the proposed change of uses for Bethesda Hospital struck a familiar chord for me (“Ramsey County Board delays homeless shelter lease to address security concerns, while continuing to express support,” StarTribune.com, Oct. 13). The discussion was remarkably similar to the one that took place when a low-barrier homeless drop-in center moved into our neighborhood. At least some of the same parties are telling Bethesda neighbors that their concerns are baseless. Frankly, the concerns raised are quite reasonable. If it is necessary to locate shelters for some of the most difficult members of the homeless population in residential areas, rather than trying to suggest concerned neighbors are NIMBYs, bigots or racists, it would be constructive to hear proponents be honest about what kinds of issues are likely to arise and how they commit to mitigating them.

Homelessness is an issue we all have a stake in seeing eliminated, but pretending that the solutions are without side effects is ignoring reality at someone else’s expense. Hopefully the county will learn from past mistakes and provide meaningful security surrounding this shelter. Unfortunately, if our experience is repeated, after assuring neighbors their fears are unwarranted, proponents will quickly transition to denying responsibility and accountability for what are foreseeable problems.

Cliff Carey, St. Paul

THE COMICS

Hoping for old magic in new ‘Mark Trail’

I’ve been faithfully following Mark Trail since his inception in 1946. When I was in my 20s, I started smoking a pipe because Mark did (I quit about the time he did, when a pack of cigarettes went from $0.25 to $0.30). But sadly, about four years ago I and many others I’ve talked to had to give up reading the strip, as the story line and artistry became just too bizarre. Now we have new Mark, a surprisingly younger Mark (“Artist lays out a fresh ‘Trail,’ ” Oct. 12). And he’s changed his hairstyle; he parts it on the opposite side. Additionally, he now sports a light beard. I’m a little jealous of the fact that he’s gotten younger, when we, his fans since childhood, cannot say the same.

I will now resume reading the strip in hopes that the old Mark will reappear; even though he now looks more like one of my grandchildren. Good luck to the artist, Jules Rivera!

Dennis Daniels, Eden Prairie

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