BEHAVIOR DISORDERS

One Dec. 15 article answered another

Anti-social behavior in children was discussed in two places in the Dec. 15 issue. The first was a lengthy front-page analysis of why black children are more likely to be taken out of the classroom and labeled as having EBD — emotional and behavioral disorders. The second article, buried in the Variety section, explained how some of these children have biological reasons for acting out. According to this article,” the amygdala in the brain is associated with aggressive behavior, anxiety disorders and depression. It goes on to say: “Once that region of the brain is stimulated, some people become anxious and overreact to perceived threats. If the child is not getting help from others — family, neighbors or a professional — then the link between the amygdala and anxious behavior is stronger.” Race, therefore, should never be an issue.

Labeling disruptive black children as EBD and removing them from the classroom is discriminatory, plain and simple.

SHARON E. CARLSON, Andover

MET COUNCIL

Thank goodness there’s foresight

“Speak up now.” I am responding to these words of Katherine Kersten. Having read her commentaries for several years, I wonder why she cannot give a more balanced view of our community. For instance, her Dec. 15 column (“Met Council: A master of imposition”) ignores the transit needs of many in this area who are disabled, or elderly or do not have the financial resources to own a car. She could acknowledge that one of the Met Council’s goal is to represent all of us, including those with special needs.

Having recently discontinued driving because of my age, I am learning to appreciate the foresight of those who have been planning and implementing a transit system that is convenient, reliable and affordable. I thank those who represent us all. I am not saying their efforts have been perfect. But I would hope that critics would be more fair and balanced in their coverage of our public agencies.

ROSEMARY THORSEN, Minneapolis

• • •

In fairness to Kersten, the Met Council’s vision for the Twin Cities does seem to reject the suburban, car-dependent lifestyle. But regardless of how distressing the 30-year plan may seem to the suburban way of life, I don’t see any reason to start worrying yet. Two of the largest investments planned by the council in the next 30 years are the Southwest and Bottineau light-rail lines. The routes selected for these projects essentially whisk suburban riders into the downtown core. With little opportunity for transit-oriented development along these lines in Minneapolis, and with Hennepin County footing 10 percent of the construction costs, I wonder if it isn’t Minneapolis that should “speak up now.”

KASIA MCMAHON, Golden Valley

THE ENVIRONMENT

PolyMet matters; so does sand mining

While PolyMet is legitimately at the top of the public mind at the moment (“Centuries of risks in copper-nickel mines,” editorial, Dec. 15), Minnesotans should be reminded that there’s a major environmental battle going on in southeastern Minnesota, too. Frac-sand companies are poised to carve up the majestic hills that make the Mississippi River valley one of the most scenic spots in the nation. The state has done little to the protect the region, and there is woefully weak, if not downright nonexistent, coordination among local governments to impose meaningful regulation on damage the industry could do to the region’s air and water quality, economy and roads.

Meanwhile, as southeastern Minnesota waits for protection, our neighbors in western Wisconsin are already being harmed by the frac-sand industry’s shoddy self-policing. A Trempealeau (Wis.) County judge recently fined Preferred Sands of Wisconsin $200,000 for violations involving contaminated stormwater. I have no doubt that Preferred Sands can afford to pay the fine. I have serious doubts, though, as to whether citizens anywhere in Minnesota can trust the mining companies’ claims that they won’t do irreparable damage to the environment that defines this state and gives us the air and water we need to live.

STEVEN SCHILD, Winona, Minn.

• • •

Robert Kaplan gives a sobering and insightful analysis of our current era and what might follow it (“Rome’s fall and Late Antiquity: A specter for America?” Dec. 15). But, stunningly, he makes no mention of the effects of climate change, which will likely trump all other geopolitical forces in shaping humanity’s future. As oceans increase their rise and gobble up low-lying, heavily populated areas and coastal cities; as droughts and increasingly extreme weather patterns make food production more precarious and threaten water supplies; as “superstorms” strain the resources of even wealthy nations while devastating poor ones, our future may very rapidly look nothing like anything humanity has ever faced before. But, as Kaplan notes, tribalism and extremism will certainly flourish if other social structures crumble. This is why climate scientists are sounding the alarm!

GEORGE MUELLNER, Plymouth