November 2008 Letters to the Editor
Letters from readers regarding the latest issues of Minnesota Monthly
Don’t Forget the Little Guys
I was chagrined and a little bit angry to read “Making the Grade” (September). Nowhere does the author mention any of the many charter high-school options in the metro area.
Most charter high schools are much smaller than traditional high schools, and for some students they are an absolutely wonderful fit. For example, the high school where I teach and work as a curriculum coordinator, Twin Cities Academy High School (TCAHS), which is only in its third year of operation, is rigorous, engaging, and responsive to the needs of students. At TCAHS, small-classes sizes ensure that no kids fall through the proverbial cracks as they often do in massive public high schools wherein class size often exceeds 40 students.
Although our smaller size means we might have less to offer in the way of certain extracurricular activities, we do not scrimp on the things that matter most: high expectations and gentle guidance for students, energetic and intelligent teachers who are well-compensated for their professional expertise and enthusiasm, and a community purposefully structured to help each student succeed academically, build leadership skills, engage in service in the community, and graduate well equipped for college and beyond. I am certain there are other similarly excellent charter schools in the metro area, too. It’s a shame this article failed to mention any of them.
I am stunned and very disappointed by your decision to exclude charter schools and alternative learning centers from your September “guide to metro-area high schools.” Charter schools and alternative learning centers are tuition-free public schools and are the first choice of thousands of Minnesota parents and students.
As the chair of the board of St. Paul–based Yinghua Academy, the first Chinese immersion school anywhere in the Midwest, I hope that in the future you will offer more comprehensive coverage of the many options that parents and students in Minnesota have, especially tuition-free public schools.
As a retired teacher from Burnsville High School now working for the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities’ College in the Schools (CIS) program, I welcomed your article about metro high schools. The chart and sidebar stories help parents select a school that is right for their child.
However, the article failed to recognize another option for students seeking rigorous, advanced courses throughout Minnesota and the country: concurrent enrollment. When I changed my American government class from an AP to a university-level class through CIS, I could assess my students on a variety of criteria, not just a single test. We could explore ideas in depth, whereas, when teaching AP classes, I felt pressured to keep moving so we could “cover” potential test items. The vast majority of my students earned U of M credits and secured recognition of these credits from other schools.
Neither the CIS program nor the U of M makes a profit from College in the Schools. It’s an important program to highlight—the university maintains CIS because it’s an important connection to our wider community.
Understand the Guv
In Michael Tortorello’s profile of Governor Tim Pawlenty (“The Cipher,” August), the writer calls Pawlenty a “Boy Scout with a switchblade”—a description of the governor I am beginning to know. The well-crafted adoptee-access bill I supported [that went before the House last session] was vetoed at the last minute. Did he do this to add to his record of the most vetoes of any Minnesota governor? Did he do it to save face in the party? Did he do it, as insiders told me, because he did not care enough about our bill to even try to understand it? And he doesn’t have the dignity to follow up on our correspondence.
Switchblades hurt. Especially when so carelessly thrown at Minnesota residents.
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