Letters to the editor: Lohmer autism bill assailed, high schooler encourages student review for teachersWoodbury Bulletin letters to the editor for the week of May 16
Lohmer bill takes autism care back toward segregation
Last December I met with Rep. Kathy Lohmer regarding her "Autism Campus.” At that time she was calling a "Boutwells Landing" type home and a "gated community." I have worked with children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities for 38 years. I have a daughter with Asperger syndrome and am presently an adult foster care provider for individuals with severe behavioral issues. What Lohmer was proposing was not cost effective. I also told her people have worked for many years to get these individuals out of large placements and into smaller homes and that a "gated" community like this would not protect our vulnerable citizens from abuse because it is more segregated. The chances of abuse would be increased. There are other less-restrictive alternatives like child and adult foster homes. She ended this meeting saying she was glad we could agree. Nothing could be further than the truth.
When I found that she had authored a bill (HF 2252) I contacted Tom DeGree, who is running for the same legislative seat. Tom and I had a wonderful conversation on this topic. I found out he is an educator, worked at an autism school program and understands the needs of autistic individuals. He is a small business owner, which is what I consider my foster care business. He understands that children and adults with autism don't need to be in a segregated community – they can live in any community, go to school or work and live in smaller foster homes. This can be accomplished at a foster care rate of $30 a day, supplemented with waivered funds or consumer directed community supports, which would be more cost effective.
This legislation takes Minnesota back 100 years of progress. We cannot support someone who thinks it’s for “the good of society.”
Ronda L. Nelson - Oakdale
Let students take part in teacher evaluation
I am writing to provide a student perspective on Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of the “last-in, first-out” bill proposed by the Republican Party of Minnesota as an effort to lobby against firing a teacher solely based on years of experience.
As a high school senior in the Minnesota school system, I have experienced both public and private academic environments. I have developed an appreciation for “good” teachers. For me, that definition has morphed into a teacher that demonstrates a passion, expertise, and enthusiasm not only for the subject in which he or she is teaching, but also for the craft of teaching. Most teachers I have had fit this category. Some greatly exceed those standards. Unfortunately there have been a few to fall short.
I agree with the governor’s claim that the bill would present Minnesota’s education system with ambiguous and “vaguely formulated ideas,” but I believe immediate action needs to be taken to reassess the way teachers are being rewarded. I propose alternative guidelines be initiated for layoffs, and that a component of the evaluation be based on student feedback. This will ensure the best teachers are kept in the classroom, no matter how many years they have under their belt.
Students are the ones interacting with their educators on a daily basis, and thus, have the most valuable feedback to offer when deciding who to let go. It doesn’t seem fair that an extremely successful teacher has to be the first to be booted, due solely to length of service.
Periodic evaluations are completed to assess teachers, but we students have all witnessed how easy it is for teachers to sharpen lesson plans and appear as high quality for one day in the presence of authority.
Administrators should invest time listening to the views of their strongest students.
Ellie Musser – Woodbury