Readers Write: Distance learning grades, graduation, the lockdown, reopening, expertise, birthdays –


The new grading system adopted by Minneapolis Public Schools on April 29 and imposed on Southwest High School students and staff is not working. This system grades any student in the fourth quarter with “credit” or “no credit,” leaving their grade-point average unchanged by the end of the school year.

The grades that students earn in school are what make students work harder and push themselves above and beyond to learn the most during their high school career. This new system allows a substandard student to earn the same stripes as an exceptional student and in turn gives the exceptional student no incentive except to do substandard work that will not affect their exceptional GPA.

The superintendents are aware how much of a struggle distance learning has been to many students. Choosing the credit/no-credit grading system is the laziest possible solution. These high school years are some of the most important times to learn and receive a GPA that will determine many things in a student’s future. And removing the effort needed to pass in this quarter makes the next few years a bigger deal, as the data set has diminished.

As President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Now, Minneapolis Public Schools students are being stripped of our prize — work worth doing at school. The solution is out there to distance learning, and there are ways to find it. Ask students their honest opinions about what classes are working for them in distance learning. What do students need to succeed in remote learning? What we need now is the option to opt out of the credit/no-credit grading system. This will give the students an incentive at doing exceptional work worth doing.

Charlie Rollin, Minneapolis

The writer attends Southwest High School.


Congrats on graduation, maturity

Thank you to a recent writer for their heartfelt letter to the editor about canceled graduation! (“We understand why. Don’t you?”) It seems we’ll be in good hands with you and many of your fellow classmates stepping into adulthood. Congratulations on your graduation from high school! Blessings and challenges await you as you move through life one step at a time.

May love and grace be with you on the journey.

Darla Lindquist, Falcon Heights

Two of Monday’s letter writers expressed dismay at losing many things from their senior year in high school. Yet, they both showed such emotional maturity. Well done, both of you!

Now for some perspective. There were many just a few years older than me who walked off the graduation stage to take their senior trip to a place called Vietnam. Some didn’t return from that trip.

Maturity in trying times will mark you as an accomplished human being for years to come.

Anthony Harder, Woodbury

Zeroing in on long-term care is more complicated than you think

A recent letter writer suggested that since the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have been among residents of long-term facilities, we should limit our efforts there instead of closing businesses, schools and outdoor activities.

A quick search revealed that there are more than a thousand nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Minnesota, and there may be other kinds of residential facilities serving our seniors as well. They obviously employ tens of thousands of workers who are spread across our whole state. Where does the writer suggest they safely shop for groceries and other necessities? What does he suggest they do about their children? And perhaps more important, why does he think that only this group of workers should accept the responsibility for the health of our whole community and of our elders who did so much to build the country in which we live? I suggest that he consider the sacrifices they all have made during their lifetimes and willingly make a few of his own during this pandemic.

Cyndy Crist, St. Paul

In “A cultural shift: Masks become an expectation” (May 3), the Star Tribune reported the positive results that Leitner’s Garden Center in St. Paul has experienced in posting a big sign outside its store that says “Got mask? Come on in!” I’m glad this request is resulting in more customers wearing masks, but we need more. We need a statewide mandatory face mask policy.

When everyone wears a face mask, it lowers the chance of spreading and maybe getting the coronavirus. At least seven states, including Illinois and Michigan (two of the states Minnesota has formed a regional alliance with) require face masks in public. Why not Minnesota?

From grocery stores to garden stores to drugstores to bicycle shops, the approach to face masks is all over the map. I e-mailed a bike retailer asking if it had a policy on face masks and was told that employees could “choose” to wear a mask; there was no mention of its policy with regard to customers. In other words, its policy is no policy — anything goes.

I ask Gov. Tim Walz to require all Minnesotans to wear face masks in public places when in close quarters with others, retail businesses being a prime example. Employers that have employees working on their premises should be required to supply personal protective equipment, including face masks, to their employees.

Minnesota nice is not enough in the face of this pandemic.

Please, Walz. Face masks for all. Period.

In the op-ed “Wisdom more than expertise is needed” (May 12), Daniel Taylor states that major issues such as the response to the pandemic require a broad view that extends beyond experts’ necessarily compartmentalized view. An epidemiologist does not take into consideration economic ramifications of shutdown orders, for example. I couldn’t agree more that the decision must be based on wisdom, not just expertise.

However, making a wise decision means taking into account as much objective information — facts — as available. A truly wise decisionmaker will rely heavily on experts’ input. Experts must play a key role in informing a decision even if they don’t have ultimate authority to make that decision.

Nic Baker, Roseville

Such a sad and unnecessary — but predictable — sign of our times: White House staffers contracting and exposing their colleagues to COVID-19. Adoption of effective public health protection measures has been promoted worldwide. Why were the simple, science-based self- and community-protection measures disregarded in the White House? Because of the “feelings” and “beliefs” of the current leadership?

To paraphrase my favorite celebrity scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, science doesn’t care about your beliefs or feelings. Science is (demonstrably, verifiably) true, whether or not you “believe.”

Melinda Erickson, Roseville

Missing from the May 11 edition of the Star Tribune, page A2, “Famous Birthdays”: The state of Minnesota, 162.

Todd Meltzer, Minneapolis

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