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Domestic violence, Minneapolis schools, Southern Baptists, Minnesota isolation | #schoolsaftey

Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


Our daughter Maria Pew was a domestic violence statistic in 2020. She was murdered by her husband, Josh Cox Fury, in her home. Cox was a classic abuser — nice in public but an experienced and skilled abuser in private in more than one relationship. After Maria’s death, we realized we did not know the signs of abuse, other than bruises or broken bones, which Maria did not experience. We formed Maria’s Voice, a nonprofit that educates everyone about the common signs of domestic abuse so people can avoid or leave a relationship prior to escalating dangers (“A reminder of domestic abuse’s toll,” editorial, June 15).

Two things are needed to diminish the toll of domestic abuse:

1) Funding for education to prevent domestic violence. Domestic violence is a chosen behavior, and there are 12 common signs of abuse. Education is needed in schools, in churches, in wellness programs, in businesses, to help everyone understand the signs. Prevention is woefully underfunded but is also a successful and cost-effective public health model, worthy of resources to prevent one of the biggest scourges on our society.

2) We need people and, more statistically, men, to speak out when they hear language or see behaviors that minimize, sexualize or put down others. When they speak up and don’t tolerate off-color language, jokes that aren’t funny or demeaning behaviors, men become powerful allies in domestic violence prevention. Prevention takes all of us, but particularly the influence and actions of those who are privileged to protect those who may not be safe in their homes.

See MariasVoice.org for domestic violence prevention education resources.

Lissa Weimelt, Chaska

The writer is co-founder, Maria’s Voice.


Seven years ago, we relocated to Minneapolis enticed by the city’s appealing lifestyle and thriving economy. However, it was the warm and inclusive community in our Uptown neighborhood that captured our hearts. When school started, 14 kids lined up at the bus stop corner for the obligatory first-day photo. Our neighborhood elementary school served as the bedrock of our community.

Sadly, that once lively bus stop now stands deserted. While some make their own way to school, the majority have joined a growing exodus from Minneapolis Public Schools and our assigned pathway schools. Now, the number of school signs adorning the yards of non-MPS schools are overtaking those promoting our community schools.

A trio of June 15 opinions spoke to the opportunities for community-building in Minnesota (“Does the cold weather make this state isolating?” “How to build community,” and “How to be part of it (and what ‘it’ is)”). I would like to stress that a dependable and well-functioning school system also plays a vital role in fostering strong communities. We have always held our neighborhood elementary school in high regard. However, as our children advance toward higher grade levels, the allure of alternatives outside MPS becomes increasingly tempting. Moreover, thanks to the state’s flexible school choice laws, these options often come at no additional cost.

Today, we find ourselves joining this outflow. Our children bid farewell to an MPS school we have cherished — a place that has truly been the heart and soul of our community. It saddens us that our individual choice may be adding to the collective fragmentation.

I don’t believe this is solely a problem for our little corner of Minneapolis.

It is my hope that our city and state leaders recognize the essential connection between robust school systems and cohesive communities. As the district grapples with future budget shortfalls and the recruitment of a new superintendent, it is important that the MPS Comprehensive District Design and the state’s school choice laws be evaluated in conjunction and, if necessary, revised to place our schools and communities on a more promising path (“Mpls. schools face a tough future,” June 14).

Let’s strive for policies that strengthen the bond between schools and communities.

Sean Murphy, Minneapolis


Friday’s paper had an article about the Minneapolis Public Schools budget for next year (“Mpls. school budget is approved,” June 15). The amount was $979 million, and the article indicated there were around 28,000 students. This amounts to about $35,000 per student. Can this actually be the case that we are spending $35,000 per student? This appears to be much more than what college typically costs per year.

Ron Wobbeking, Savage


As a longtime member of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in downtown Minneapolis, I have been concerned that the Christian nationalists who stormed the national Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are giving Christianity a bad reputation in America. Their Christianity, which is about rich white men retaining power, is not my Christianity. Now, I have to be concerned about the Southern Baptists (“Southern Baptists aim to purge female-led churches,” June 14). Rich, white Baptist men have decided that women cannot be ministers. And they are wondering why their national membership is declining.

I firmly believe that Christianity can be a positive voice in American if we follow what Jesus says in the gospels. I’m a Matthew 25 Christian where Jesus encourages us to feed the hungry, provide clothing to the poor, welcome the stranger and visit those in prison. Jesus said a lot about helping the poor but nothing about abortion, gay marriage or the founding of America as a Christian nation.

If you are someone who is seeking a congregation that will allow you to explore a Christianity that teaches you to love your neighbor and help the poor, please visit Hennepin Church, where we fly a Pride flag on our flagpole and, on June 25, will welcome our third consecutive female senior pastor.

Jerry Gale, Brooklyn Park


It’s time to eliminate the tax-exempt status enjoyed by nonprofits that actively discriminate against large groups of people.

Why should I, as a taxpaying woman, subsidize an organization that will not hire me because their invisible friend says only men can be pastors?

Nancy Harris, St. Paul


Abdulrahman Bindamnan’s Star Tribune commentary (“Does the cold weather make this state isolating?”) only looks at Minnesota and Minnesotans from one side of table. His! His words are gross generalizations about Minnesotans. What was he looking for as he tried to connect with other Minnesotans? Were they only those at his intellectual and educational level or those who are members of Mensa? Did he try to connect with Minnesotans who enjoy and embrace outdoor winter activities? How did he go about connecting with others? Did he move away from the ivory towers of the University of Minnesota and circulate among those with other vocations and interests?

Yes, Minnesota’s winters are a bit frigid at times. However, Bindamnan should not judge or blame the mood and dispositions of Minnesotans on the cold weather. He should blame it on the fact that many of those he may have encountered would be ornery and out of sorts wherever they lived. Most Minnesotans grump about the winter weather at times, but most of them would never live elsewhere. When Bindamnan arrives in Florida, I hope it’s in July or August, and then he can blame the mood of some Floridians on the humidity.

George Larson, Brooklyn Park

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