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by Steve Timmer
Feb 25, 2015, 5:30 PM

On comments

Guns and education

The comment inbox at LeftMN has been choked with comments these days. We appreciate your cards and letters.

In a comment to Tony or your gut?, about the prohibition of guns in the Mall of America, Randy wrote:

I have always found it interesting that trespassing (including refusing to leave when ordered to do so) is a misdemeanor, but refusing to leave after being told to do so because your gun is banned is merely a petty misdemeanor. I suppose that’s just more evidence of how guns prevent crime.

Thanks for that. I was actually going to make that point, but it was getting late (for me, anyway) and I wrapped up the story before making it. Some of you will remember from the early reporting on this that Tony Cornish, the above-referenced Tony, said that the law and signs were just stupid, because many people carried handguns in the Mall everyday, anyway. Recall that Tony Cornish is your chair of the Minnesota House Public Safety Committee. Scofflaw.

Reflecting on it, I think we should not only permit, but encourage, guns at the MOA. And open carry, too. After all, what’s more American than guns? People from all over the world come to the MOA; let ‘s give ’em the real American Experience! They could drape the place in camo on the weekends and have gun shows, and have docents to guide Japanese tourists through the tables of guns, armor-piercing ammunition, giant banana clips for handguns, and the literature advocating Sovereign Citizen, Posse Comitatus, and other fringe causes. Sign up for a shift on the Cliven Bundy ranch!

Along comes Terri!, about education, attracted multiple comments:

First, the cheekiest, from Joe:

Thanks Steve! Maybe Kevin Garnett can save the Strib too. But that is doubtful.

That’s funny on a couple of levels, of course. But if he saves the Wolves, we’ll have to be content with that.

Next, from commenter Alan:

I think our MBA culture has resulted in too much faith in sometimes questionable data (along with other problems). A teacher might be less than ideal for one student, but just what another student needs. How do you evaluate that? Judging teachers on the test scores of their students is pretty iffy because as you note, teachers don’t get to choose their students.

And if we’re relying on the evaluations school administrators make based on observations of the teachers, the prejudices of the administrators comes into play.

Lastly, we’re led to believe that schools are somehow worse than corporate environments. Anybody who’s ever worked in a corporation knows that people there are often hired and fired for completely irrational reasons, totally unrelated to data and abilities. Schools are in many ways a more rational environment than that. Then there’s the rationality/irrationality of the legislature to consider. I won’t get into that.

I especially like Alan’s observation in his first graf. Learning “styles” and teaching styles obviously differ from individual to individual. The sort of comparisons being sought to be made based on data available is just foolish. Remember, right up until the end we were winning the Vietnam war, based on the data. (Today’s score: U.S.: 100, Viet Cong: 2.) I wonder if Arne Duncan ever met Robert McNamara?

And here’s reader Ned:

Spot on post. I can’t understand the Rethuglicans constant attack on teachers. Is it because they don’t like teachers unions or did they have a bad experience while in school? [the former, ed.] I was a “punk” in high school but somehow I got a good education in spite of myself. I attribute that to teachers not giving up and simply doing their jobs, because I believe (20/20 hindsight) that teaching is basically a “calling”. Who would do this if it wasn’t? With punk kids, blaming parents, overpaid administrators and low pay for classroom teachers? I never had a bad teacher, some were better than others but none was bad.

As usual our hometown paper is on the wrong side of this issue. I still subscribe to the Strib but I don’t know why. They’ve moved steadily to the right and even published an article by Jason Lewis last Sunday…who is he other than a right wing “entertainer?” Certainly not a journalist!

There are few things sadder than a “former radio talk show host,” as Lewis was described in the piece that Ned refers to. And if you aren’t humming Paul Simon about now, you aren’t paying attention.

And I think about our “hometown paper” quite a lot, Ned. I’ve been spilling breakfast cereal or toast crumbs on the Strib (the Trib or the Star, or the Trib and the Star, in the early days, although it wasn’t breakfast cereal on the Star, of course) ever since I moved to Minnesota almost 45 years ago. What you say about the rightward tilt of the op-ed section is undoubtedly correct; the comment section editor is, after all, Doug Tice, a ponderous right-wing polemicist in his own right. But thankfully, that’s not the news.

The Strib does retain one of the best editorial cartoonist working today in Steve Sack (who undoubtedly gets through to a lot more people than Jason or Doug), and the work of the thoughtful L.K. Hanson appears regularly, too. I’m looking at a framed original L.K. Hanson cartoon as I write this. I’ll bet some of you know which one it is.

The Capitol bureau lost its most experienced political reporters in the last year, including the irreplaceable Jim Ragsdale, to cancer. The new crew is a little green, especially in Minnesota experience (which is what my rather indirect criticism in the story commented on reflects), but I don’t detect great biases.

It’s still true that the Strib has the largest newsroom between Chicago and Denver, and maybe LA. I like print journalism; I am a Walter Mitty print journalist myself. So keep up your subscriptions, friends, and take all the click bait you can on the Strib’s website.

Update: You’ll note that almost everything I write started in the Strib somewhere.

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