It's not a sport when a beautiful animal is shot
Having just read the headline over the photo of the young college student who "got lucky" and shot a magnificent wolf for sport, I suppressed an urge to lose my breakfast ("A long shot," Dec. 4). The killing of these wild, intelligent and integral-to-the-ecosystem animals is a reflection of the savage bloodlust rampant in our world today. I am ashamed of the hunters and the culture that encourages this "sport" killing, of the newspaper that celebrates this controversial and shameful activity, of the governor who refuses to veto this hunt, of the Legislature that allows it, of the Department of Natural Resources that is nothing but a pandering arm to the hunters' lobby, and of myself for my powerlessness to do anything to stop this.
J.K. ZELLER, Hastings
Beware of China's goals in dispute with Japan
In a Dec. 3 commentary on China's dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands ("China-Japan dispute has a harsh history), John Ho defends China's claims by stating that the country "will not be the aggressor. It is only interested in protecting its rightful territories …"
Since he fails to mention it, Ho's assurances of China's peaceful intent apparently do not extend to its assertion of sovereignty over the entire South China Sea (and a third of the world's maritime commerce). These assurances would provide scant comfort to the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia, all of which have been subjected to aggressive bullying and threats of military force by China.
Ho's defense of China's Senkaku claims rests on a "recently discovered edict" issued by the 19th-century Qing Dynasty. China's claim to control the South China Sea dates back to the 18th-century Manchu Empire. The use of such antique claims to justify China's aggressive expansionism more properly belongs in the editorial pages of the Chinese People's Daily.
PETER D. ABARBANEL, Apple Valley
Despite whining, things are fine in rural areas
I read the Dec. 4 commentary by Rod Hamilton and Matt Schmit with more than a little exasperation. Once again those from outstate Minnesota (I refuse to call it "Greater Minnesota" because that would connote that the metro area is "Lesser Minnesota") whine about not having enough resources. Really, they want the benefits, and lack of hassle, of living outstate but would like the metro area to subsidize their lifestyles.
One only has to look at what has happened in North Dakota to realize that if there are 12,000 new manufacturing jobs in outstate Minnesota by 2020 people will come. Let's face it, even with all of the noted deficiencies — if they are in fact deficiencies — outstate Minnesota is paradise compared to the oil boom area in North Dakota.
We spend four to five months each year in the Alexandria area in outstate Minnesota, and the last time I looked the economy in the area is in great shape.
LOREN L. BERG, Rio Verde, Ariz.
Be careful when trying to compare students
Recent news stories have focused on the gap between math and reading skills compared on an international basis by the International Student Assessment. Be skeptical of those results because of all the factors involved in those scores. For example, who took the test? Were students selected on a random basis? Was the translation of reading and math levels into a variety of languages comparable? What was the climate of the testing site? How motivated were students to take a test if they were not required to take it for graduation?
One thing seems to be shown clearly in the test results internationally and in Minnesota. Asian students do exceeding well. I believe that is because many Asian cultures teach their children the importance of working hard at school as a way to get ahead. It is certainly true that much can be done to improve our schools, but I believe one overlooked factor is the value of education taught in the family.
HOWARD LEWIS, Cambridge, Minn.
We've learned that teacher training works
The Editorial Board comes to a conclusion that many teachers know from experience — that investing in teacher professionalism through job-embedded professional development, teacher leadership, teacher evaluation and alternative pay structures can make a difference for students if done correctly with more teacher input ("Boondoggle or not? Assessing Q Comp," Nov. 30).
While the results of the Q Comp study referenced were not conclusive, the improved reading scores for districts with longer implementation merit further time and attention. In addition, the more opportunities we can provide educators for learning and collaboration the better, and Q Comp is designed to create these important avenues. Given the magnitude of the opportunity gaps in education, we need to do whatever we can to boost student achievement.
The writer is executive director of Educators 4 Excellence Minnesota.