Letters

A teacher's thanks This is a follow-up letter from the article Bob Gilbert wrote about Minneapolis Public School teacher layoffs. I am the teacher he featured.

After the article was published, I was met with a lot of support from my Minneapolis neighbors, former colleagues, former students and complete strangers. I received one call in particular that I felt was extremely generous and a good measure of the kind of city we live in.

The call came on a Sunday night. It was a man who introduced himself as a "neighbor" who lives near Cedar Lake. He said he had seen the story in the Southwest Journal, and then he told me how sorry he was that I lost my job. He proceeded to tell me that recently one of his best friends had passed away. This friend of his was teacher at a Minneapolis Public School. The man thought perhaps I could take his friend's position.

How wonderful that in a moment of grief, this neighbor saw a way to help a complete stranger! I was touched beyond belief.

This week, I received a call from a Minneapolis Public School principal who said he was looking to fill a 4th-grade teaching position. The position had opened up at the last minute due to a number of unexpected staff changes. I jumped at it, and this fall I'll be teaching 4th grade in Minneapolis.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me in my job search. I love teaching in Minneapolis, and I am grateful for the opportunity to teach another group of fabulous Minneapolis 4th graders. Martha Spriggs Kenny

Failure to communicate [The Southwest Journal's] recent article on Southwest Minneapolis schools that fell short of the "No Child Left Behind" standard (July 24-Aug. 6) missed the point of the positive outcomes that will occur with this new accountability system for schools.

The Journal uses the word "fail" nine times in this story. Are the teachers failures? Are the children failures? I have never characterized schools that miss the mark on test participation or achievement as failures. Nowhere in the legislation are schools or children labeled as failing. That kind of rhetoric does nothing to help parents or teachers in their efforts to see that all children learn. When reporters persistently use words like "failure" to describe how students and schools are performing, it is devastating to a school's community. In most cases, schools are aware of their challenges and have identified steps to get their school off the list.

In the future, all of us need to focus less on which schools are on the list and more on what we are doing to get schools like Windom off the list. I'm sure parents in the Southwest community would like to see an article in the Journal covering what schools and teachers are doing to help all children learn. Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D. Minnesota Commissioner of Education

Fuzzy math You know, I was amazed when it cost $1.3 million for a new concession stand and bandshell at Lake Harriet a few years ago when the median house was maybe $140,000. Now you report $900,000 for [parks-area] signs, kiosks and poles! Talk about a turkey. This one should get a Senate appeal.

By rough figuring at $50 an hour for a carpenter, I reckon three hours, $150 apiece, for place name signs totals $31,250. Eighteen new info kiosks at eight hours ($400) apiece equals $7200. Thirty other kiosks at $150 apiece equals $4,500. Forty new direction poles at $100 apiece is $4,000. That would total $46,950. New bike & sidewalk mileage signs (no number indicated) at one per mile, costing a generous $3,000, makes a total of $49,950. But $900,000! Your tax dollars at work.

Now, the beaches are closed with the longest heat wave of the summer, two weeks before Labor Day. C'est non bon. There should be lots of stones to throw to the after this faux pas. Jacqueline Mithun Edina