Renaming MSI was the wrong move

As a kid growing up in the near southwest suburbs, there were few treats as special as a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. The huge train set. U-505. The coal mine. Yesterday’s Main Street. A heart you could walk through.

It was utterly amazing to me and helped foster a love of learning that propelled me to becoming the first member of my fairly recent immigrant family to get a college degree. I am sure I am not alone in having a special place in my heart for the MSI.

Noted philanthropist, businessman and true Illinoisian Julius Rosenwald initially endowed the museum but vehemently declined to have it named after himself. It was for Chicago, not his vanity.

Obviously, Ken Griffin’s vanity is a totally different animal.

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To name the museum after such a divisive figure, one who repeatedly badmouths our city and fled to Florida, with his company, after he found he could no longer buy an election in this state, is a shameful stain on a once beloved institution. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his abhorrent behavior, behavior he tries to obscugate with charitable giving just as long as he gets his name slapped on anything he donates money to.

I have probably been to MSI once in the past five years, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I have recommended the museum to visitors to our city, especially ones with children. No more. There are plenty of other great museums in this city to support instead of the one that sold its naming rights like it was a ballpark, to a right-wing Florida billionaire that a huge swath of Chicagoans detest and despise.

Julius Rosenwald would be ashamed.

Brad Kruizenga, Ravenswood

Nothing wrong with renaming museum

Letter writer Jonathan Rivera writes, “If Ken Griffin can rename the MSI, an institution that sits on public land in a public park, what’s next?” But he’s wrong: Griffin didn’t rename anything. The MSI Board of Directors did. They asked Griffin for money — lots of it — and the quid pro quo was they renamed the museum. Griffin didn’t make them do anything. The only thing Griffin did was something Rivera and I didn’t: donate money so the museum can maintain its greatness.

Shawn Jenkins, Evanston

Grading schools? Give an A+ to public education

One of the problems with the question of grading public education in Chicago (May 14, 2024) and elsewhere is the presumption that almost everything can have a grade. But many if not most grades (except, perhaps in aerodynamics and other precise sciences) are arbitrary. What is the difference between a 3.9 (B) and a 4..0 (A) with a question like this?

Regardless, where is historical humility in this debate? Schools work enormously hard to improve and there is compelling evidence that if equitably funded, with appropriate resources, every school could be a genuine stepping stone to a living wage, lifelong learning, civic responsibility and so forth for a vast range of students. Education has always been a context for dilemmas and debate and if we’re giving grades, I give an A-plus to that fact that public education, including our mayor’s attempt to equalize funding — with all of its ups and downs — survives.

Margery Ginsberg, Lincoln Park

Going back to electric buses

I read where some cities want to invest in electric buses to cut pollution. I wonder how many people realize Chicago once had electric buses crisscrossing the city until the late 1950s and early 1960s. Overhead power lines lined the streets and buses connected with long poles to power them. My dad was very upset when they replaced those clean-running buses with diesels because of sitting in traffic behind them.

Now after more than 60 years they want to go back to what was once the norm for Chicago. Oh well, one step forward and two steps back is typical for Chicago politicians.

Mike Zaczek, Orland Park

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