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Cultural diversity, presidential politics and drug busts among hot topics

There were lots of thoughtful comments this week on topics ranging from culturally diverse schools to religion’s role in politics. Here’s a selection of reader comment:

Tom Poe of Charles City, Iowa, commented on Lorena Duarte’s Tuesday post, “Will culture-focused public school help or hurt diversity efforts,” which addressed some of the issues around plans for a Hmong-focused K-6 magnet school in St. Paul:

The greater Minneapolis area is now launching a wireless infrastructure. There are bugs, of course, but the folks behind the project envision something quite remarkable. Classes will spend more time online, interacting in structured videoconferences . . . one day, spending time with classmates in other countries; another day, producing news items to be shared with kids around the world; another day, receiving one-on-one instruction with experts in a wide range of professions.

It won’t matter where the kids are. They’ll be exposed to a world of culture, if that’s what the parents want for their kids. Why segregate? Consider where these kids will be, if they don’t get that opportunity. Besides, it would cost a lot less than building brick-and-mortar magnet schools. Better we focus on bringing the magnet school experience to the kids. We have the technology. We should use it.

Thomas Swift had another view on Duarte’s post:

Through my work, I have had the opportunity to spend extended periods of time in Asian “Pacific Rim” countries, primarily Singapore and Taiwan.

Singapore is a country made up of a truly eclectic mix of ethnicities. In Singapore, diversity is not something that is celebrated or achieved; it is simply a fact of life. Due to the staggering economic success of Singapore, people are drawn from China, Malaysia, Bali, Java, India, North Africa and many European countries. And they bring their kids, their cultures and their language barriers with them.

Despite this, Singapore-educated children rank No. 1 in science and mathematics rankings worldwide; how do they manage this feat?

As any Singapore school child could explain, it’s not rocket science. The answer is that the Ministry of Education has made academic success the top priority of the schools. Yes, it really is that simple.

But, where does diversity fit in? Wherever it will. Although kids speak a multiplicity of languages at home, lessons are taught in English at school.

Ethnic and cultural differences are an everyday experience outside the classrooms, but they are given short shrift (ignored is more precise) when it is time to learn the skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy.

The course work is rigorous; there are no Basket Weaving 101 classes being offered to keep underperformers engaged at any cost. Kids that are unable to meet the academic rigors are not “thrown under the bus”; however, they are directed toward technical or trade-related educations.

Children with severe disabilities have schools set aside for them that can meet their special needs. I think that the well-intentioned effort to mainstream kids that are struggling with severe mental or physical disabilities has done them, our public school system and the mainstream student population a huge disservice — but that is for another discussion.

I can tell you that an educator in Singapore would be shaking his or her head in bewilderment that this discussion of the importance of “diversity” is being seriously undertaken while our metro area graduation rates hover around 60 percent.

We have allowed the de-evolution of our once-proud public education system into something that makes academic success a byproduct of its ability to provide upper-middle-class jobs to trade labor unions and experimentation in leftist socio-economic indoctrination.

Oh sure, administrators and teaching staff are pleased when the odd student scores high on an ACT test. But the fact of the matter is that even the “cream of the crop” more often shows up at college needing serious remedial coursework before undertaking college-level material.

My experience with Hmong people leaves me to conclude that perhaps it is their concern over the dismal level of importance given academic excellence in St. Paul public schools, more than any attempt to isolate their culture, that is driving their efforts.

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John Olson added this to Molly Priesmeyer’s Tuesday story, “Realty check: Counselor sorts out mortgage crisis“:

The other thing that scares me is the practice of the credit card companies of preying on college students. While my daughter is away at school, I am shredding preapproved credit card offers sent to her two to three days a week. My 15-year-old son has even received a few! Unreal.

I also know that the credit card folks set up shop on campus to get these kids hooked on cards. Preying on college students helps them create a new generation of debtors.

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Pete Anderson appreciated David Hawley’s Wednesday post, “$42 million later, ‘Triple Espresso’ franchise still the ticket“:

Bar none, this show is one of my favorite shows of all time. It’s clean, hilarious and seems new every time you see it. I think I’ve seen it twice, and I may have to go at least once more before the run in the Twin Cities end.

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John Finn had this addendum to Delma Francis’ Thursday post, “ ‘Merry Christmas’ greeting still tricky in age of political correctness“:

FYI: Rather than being a denial of or “crossing out” of Christ, “X-mas” has its origins centuries ago in the Greek language. The Roman letter X is similar to the Greek symbol for Christ, as I recall.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to you, Ms. Francis, and to all.

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Steve Clemens commented on Monica Meyer’s Dec. 14 Community Voices post about Outfront Minnesota’s efforts to organize religious progressives in support of GLBT rights, “Voice of religious progressives needs to be heard to win GLBT rights“:

I attended the Bible self-defense course and found it to be enlightening and helpful. I’m grateful for the important work that Outfront Minnesota, Soulforce and Faith Family and Fairness provide to those of us who are straight allies of our many friends in the GLBT community. Let our voices be heard!

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Dwight Fry had this to say about G.R. Anderson Jr.’s Monday story, “Hennepin County sheriff takes war on drugs to the burbs,” about recent multimillion-dollar marijuana busts in upscale suburbs, including some around Lake Minnetonka:

These numbers are still as inflated as Rich Stanek’s ego. Cops love the Drug War because they can load up their departments with all kinds of fancy seized goods, cash and dope that they can sell on the side. And they’ll spread whatever lies they have to in order to keep their little gravy train rolling.

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Danie Watson commented on Phyllis Stenerson’s Monday Community Voices post, “Romney religion speech and presidential election put the focus on American values“:

Phyllis Stenerson raises important points.

Last I checked there are laws on the books in 18 states that prohibit atheists from holding public office. I saw several comments in the media following Romney’s speech asserting that all Americans want their leaders to be religious, to make decisions based on personal faith, and that atheists “need not apply.” Bias against atheists (and marginalized religions) is real and deeply entrenched in our culture, and we must speak out against religious bias of any kind.

Romney said: “It’s as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.”

Stenerson is right to suggest that Romney must explain who “they” are. I say “they” are Americans entitled to full religious liberty.

Bruce Peck had more to say on Phyllis’ post:

Phyllis Stenerson touches on very good points.

However, I still do not hear a response to comparing the stark differences between the position that John Kennedy was in and the position that Romney is now in. The fear generated by a Catholic president was that the pope, as the vicar of Christ on Earth, would become the de facto president of the United States by dictating to Kennedy as president. Kennedy not only gave the assurance this would not happen but also conducted his presidency consistent with this position.

Today, the religious right operates out of a clear political agenda to establish their brand of religious fundamentalism as the national religion — precisely the fear Kennedy had to assuage to get elected. And they operate with total impunity! Hiding behind the very tolerance they refuse to give to other beliefs, they are not challenged! And when the issue does come up, as with Romney, it still gets politely ignored.

When the Republican Party can list the religious belief of each candidate at their national debates, it seems to me they open the door for vigorous cross-examination. Yet our toothless media refuse to focus on the issue, and our inept politicians are incapable of confronting them.

These concerns really do need a public debate.

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Craig Westover weighed in on an older post, Joel Kramer’s “Public Numbers: The party of the rich — Democrats or Republicans?” which was posted on Nov. 17:

“The one thing both sides seem to agree on is this: being the party of the rich is a bad thing, something you try to pin on your opponents.”

That is the most telling insight in this article.

I recall watching one of Grams/Dayton debates many years ago. It stuck with me: Grams, the Republican, tried to make an issue out of Dayton’s wealth. Dayton, whose family created thousands of jobs and gave back millions of dollars to the community, seemed genuinely embarrassed by his wealth and downplayed it — he wasn’t as rich as many others in the Senate.

Wealth, the creation of wealth, is what enables the best of this country. When both political parties run away from the rich, when we have a political culture that assumes progressive taxation is the moral high ground, we run the very real danger of throwing out the baby of wealth creation with the bathwater of conspicuous consumption.

MinnPost would not be here today were it not for the wealth of four families.

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