Alternatives to Violence
This is in response to a March 12 letter to the editor titled “Control behavior in our schools.”
The author states that he taught school at St. Paul for 18 years, but did not mention at what grade level. He suggests more policy controls to drive greater student behavior, which is the typical fallback position of educators with a long history. What he suggests is that students lack (personal) self-control. But what school offers “life skills” classes where I can learn and practice such skills? It’s simply not part of the curriculum, and teachers will tell you they wouldn’t have the time to include it or know how to teach it.
However, there is a handy solution that few know about.
It’s called the Alternatives to Violence Project or AVP. The program, which teaches alternatives to violent situations, has a long history of success. It began in New York in a state prison after the 1975 Attica prison riots that left many inmates and correctional officers dead or injured. Since then, AVP has spread to 42 US states and more than 60 countries worldwide. Minnesota has a branch (or local board) located in St. Paul. The Minnesota branch has worked primarily in several state prisons since 1993, Faribault, Stillwater, Moose Lake and Shakopee, and Waseca Federal Prison for Women.
But let me tell you about some programs that work with youth in schools.
In 2013, in Philadelphia, John Paul Jones Middle School was abandoned by the School District of Philadelphia and turned over to Paradigm Schools (a private school program). The new school engaged AVP to come and train teachers and staff in their techniques, and when the students arrived, AVP facilitators and teachers held workshops for the students. As a result, serious violent incidents dropped by 90%! The success that AVP was able to generate in the prison environment since 1975 has proven to work in the school environment as well. For the year prior to AVP involvement, there were 138 police reports of serious incidents (where the police were called). A year after AVP’s involvement, the number of incidents has dropped to 15. You can read the Atlantic report at http://www.theatlantic.com/jeff-deeney/
So, not to be outdone, AVP Santa Barbara stepped in in 2017. The local Santa Barbara AVP program began working, not with the entire school, but with misbehaving students who were given the option to do the workshops or face other disciplinary consequences. .
The results were commendable. From the first year, suspension was reduced by 88%, absenteeism was reduced by 42%, fighting was reduced by 64%, dispatching officers were reduced by 33%, and grade improvement (for AVP participants) by 19%. And, as the School Climate and Safety Coordinator wrote, “Workshops help our students develop important social and emotional skills such as self-awareness and self-management, social awareness, relationship building, and decision-making.” Furthermore, she wrote that “AVP is an integral community partner in our district’s efforts to support student success.
See more at www.AVP-USA.org
Terrence Kayser, St. Paul
Our pavilion of pits
Here’s my suggestion as an alternative to our annual pothole worries. A contest could be held for residents to submit photos of their favorite or worst street potholes. This could generate as much interest as the winter carnival treasure hunt.
The city could also put pothole repair crews to work digging up the best potholes and carefully transporting them to a location for preservation and display. A pit pavilion and a Dodge Em ride could become additional attractions at our State Fair. It could even be named and marketed as our National Pit Museum.
Who knows – we may see an increase in tourism, especially from southern state residents eager to experience one of Minnesota’s unique and treasured winter wonders.
Ben Kohler, Roseville
Mendota Heights does not need more density
What are the 2023-2024 implications of the Mendota Heights three-member City Council by-election? The prognosis is not promising.
— For the first time in its history, Mendota Heights now has a majority of council members dedicated to density development: Stephanie Levine, mayor; John Mazzitello and Joel Paper.
— A new state legislative proposal would require Minnesota cities to allow duplexes and “accessory dwelling” units in districts zoned as single-family. That legislation is opposed by the League of Cities, and nearly 200 Minnesota cities have passed resolutions opposing the proposal. Mendota Heights, although asked to do so, took no action.
— A lasting legacy of this triumvirate of density is the new Levine Tower, which looms over Highway 62 as you head east from Highway 62-Dodd Roadd. intersection. New residents in both new Mendota Heights Plaza towers will: 1) exacerbate traffic congestion at the Hwy 62-Dodd Road intersection and access/egress to the Plaza; 2) increasing unsafe side traffic through adjacent residential neighborhoods; and 3) obstructs Mendota Heights Fire Department access along northbound Dodd Road.
With its largely residential character, Mendota Heights is unique among all the top suburbs of the Twin Cities. Its tax base is adequate. Meets the Affordable Housing Council criteria. Densification of the city is neither desirable nor necessary.
Thomas Smith, Mendota Heights
Too much to teach
In response to Sunday’s Letter to the Editor about teaching swimming in primary school, I can only then say why not teach baseball as well, since we have 27,434 ball fields. Some things are best initiated by family and friends. Let’s make schools focus on reading, riting and rithmetic please.
Jeff Holmes, St. Byeit
Eliminate the front plate law
Minnesota Statute 169.79 Subd 6 states: “If the motor vehicle is any type of motor vehicle other than as provided in subdivisions 2 through 4, one license plate shall be displayed on the front and one on the rear of the vehicle.”
I have personally observed numerous new and used vehicles both on the road and in parking lots without a number plate displayed on the front. Most vehicles that do not feature a face plate are new high-end vehicles, i.e. BMWs, Porsches, Audis, Land Rovers, Mercedes, Corvettes and especially Teslas. We estimate that seven out of 10 Teslas do not display a front license plate. In fact, new Teslas sold in Minnesota do not offer a license plate holder on the front of the vehicle. Now I notice older vehicles that don’t have a front license plate.
Where am I going with this topic, you ask?
I have a hunch that police officers and state troopers have more important things to do than pull someone over without license plates and potentially be charged with profiling.
I am asking Gov. Walz to repeal Bylaw 169.79 Subd 6. Eliminate front license plate display.
By repealing this statute, just think of the metal that could be saved by making that front license plate on all Minnesota cars, all the pollution from making that steel plate, and the plastic mount to hold the license plate ( more pollution and is a product of fossil fuels).
So come on Governor Walz it’s time to get rid of the 169.79 subd 6 statute and adopt the no front license statute like the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine. , Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and yes, even President Biden’s home state of Delaware.
Ron Videen, Inver Grove Heights
More time for press and TV
Thanks Jess Myers for your article on our gopher hockey team, “National Semifinals Won’t Intimidate Gophers.” This team was so much fun to watch and root for. They have such talent, they are quick and skilled and can shoot the puck.
It’s a shame the Frozen Four isn’t televised on local TV or basic cable. Throughout the season, you had to subscribe to a streaming service to watch them play. For Frozen Four, you must subscribe to ESPN+; for the championship, ESPNU is a bigger package than regular cable.
If sportswriters and broadcasters gave more press and TV time, Ridder Arena would be close to a sell-out every game. They have a fantastic coach, “Frosty”, Associate Coach Darwitz and coaching staff, 18 WCHA All-Academics, 10 WCHA Scholars and a handful of Olympians. This team is so dedicated and gives 100% every game. More media coverage and airing the games on local or basic cable like they do for men’s hockey would be a great start to giving the team the respect it deserves and deserves. Go Gophers!
Amy Omodt, Minneapolis
How to speed up the game
Major League Baseball is looking for ways to speed up the game. I have a simple solution.
Since today’s starting pitchers only have the stamina to pitch six innings, unlike durable hurlers of the past who could go nine innings regularly, why not just play six inning games? This would eliminate the need for overpaid specialists who could only pitch one inning at most, perhaps an economy that could be passed on to fans in the form of lower ticket prices, and eliminate the need for silly ideas like ghost runners and time limits on everything what can be imagined.
Here we are at the fourth inning!
Jim Ashworth, St. Paule
The advantages of eliminating the social security tax
So here’s my new way of thinking about the benefits of eliminating Social Security taxation:
1. Government savings. There is no need for state employees to “go after” those six-month-and-a-day people making snow in states where there are no taxes.
2. Snowbirds wouldn’t stay away for six months (and a day). They would be home more often – in Minnesota – and spend the money here – which would add to Minnesota’s coffers.
3. This is an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to call this a win for all Minnesotans, regardless of household income.
4. Let’s do it!
Lisa Hanson, Stillwater