The Star Tribune’s assertion that “ ‘indoctrination’ in the Edina School District has become one of the central topics of this year’s crowded school board race” (local section, Oct. 15) is misleading.
As a current member of the Edina school board and candidate for re-election, I know that class size, personalized learning, the use of technology and community concerns regarding the board’s decisionmaking process are the central topics of this year’s race.
Alleged indoctrination is an issue only because the Center of the American Experiment (CAE) has spent probably $100,000 or more in its effort to manufacture this issue, and the Star Tribune has been willing to report on it by scraping information from social media instead of interviewing people with knowledge of actual facts.
The unfortunate result of this situation is that many voters will end up casting votes without having ever learned the candidates’ positions on the issues that will actually make a difference in our schools.
Instead of titillating readers with Sunday’s article on a manufactured controversy, why not find out who donated the money for the CAE to print and mail a glossy 48-page magazine to every family in Edina during an election? The CAE is closely associated with opponents of public education who would benefit from privatization of our schools. The CAE has spent more money in Edina over the past month than all of the candidates for school board combined over past decades. Shouldn’t this paper wonder why? Isn’t that information voters should have?
David J. Goldstein, Minneapolis
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The Center of the American Experiment has regularly provided falsehoods of various kinds and degrees at public meetings I’ve attended, but seldom have I encountered one as baldfaced as that of the center’s president, John Hinderaker, in the Oct. 15 article. His statement, “We don’t do politics, we do policy” might be true in an authoritarian society where the two might be unrelated, at least in theory, but in a democratic society, policy originates with politics, and politics is how policy is implemented. The two are inextricably entwined, and it’s more than a little dishonest for Hinderaker to suggest otherwise. When the center testifies at a hearing in St. Paul in favor of, or in opposition to, a particular bill or policy proposal, it’s absolutely political, and Hinderaker knows that as well as any of us.
Ray Schoch, Minneapolis
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There are strong, conservative sources with journalistic integrity, and there are also examples of thoughtful, free-market-orientated think tanks (see the Wall Street Journal and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute). The recent cover story from Thinking Minnesota fails to meet either of these standards. Quotes from the School District were taken from other publications (the Sun Current), and it is unclear if the district or those accused within the article were given the opportunity to respond. How ironic that an article criticizing the Edina schools for ideological concentration is itself so biased.
The goal of the article is best understood as a ploy to raise the profile of the Center of the American Experiment and fill its coffers. (Accompanying the mailing to every Edina household was a “Please Donate” card.) This is unfortunate. Increasing diversity is a complex, significant issue. Our schools deserve more thoughtful discourse than this web of yarn connecting social-media postings.
Matthew Pepper, Edina
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What?! Schools are indoctrinating our children? How awful. Surely this must be stopped forthwith. What was it Katherine Kersten said schools indoctrinate students in? “Racial equality and ‘indoctrination in left-wing political orthodoxies.’ ” Oh, that sounds terribly radical and frightening. Almost as radical and dangerous as the tenets of the real (not fake) American experiment, the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” If we are going to be frightened of anything, it should be of the moral imperative in these words. I wonder if the authors of the Declaration thought of themselves as left-wing.
Carol McNamara, Minneapolis
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The Edina school board race reminds me of an experience I had in high school sports. I was engaged in a sport that rewarded coaching, repetition and terrain (in that order). This “three-legged” approach has been proven to objectively develop better athletes. At the tail end of high school, however, a new approach became popular that subjectively focused on using the sport to develop better citizens. The second approach made you feel better at first but worse when your performance dropped off. For me personally, it degraded my self-confidence because I lost faith that my bad habits could be identified by a good coach and corrected through repetition. This sport is ski racing, and Minnesota has developed world-class athletes through the first approach, which is augmented by our short, icy courses that allow multiple runs. Many kids and their parents still favor the first approach when it comes to sports and academics and favor their families as a better crucible for citizenship.
Chris Birt, Edina
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Tuition is at the right level; we are attracting nonresidents
The Oct. 19 editorial (“Go easy on hikes in out-of-state tuition”) got it partly right: Minnesota needs its flagship university to attract nonresidents. But here’s what needs to be clear: Our commitment and success at doing so is stronger than ever.
Yes, our Board of Regents has made it a priority to bring the price of nonresident nonreciprocity tuition more into line with our higher-education peers. But contrary to the Star Tribune editorial, previous increases to this segment of tuition, and tuition proposals for 2018-19, do not indicate we have gone too far.
Since the university began increasing nonresident nonreciprocity tuition, we have admitted even more students in this category. In fall 2014, we enrolled 3,067 nonresident nonreciprocity students from the United States, and another 2,824 international students, for a total of 5,891 students. The totals have grown more than 10 percent since then: 6,102 in fall 2015; 6,259 in fall 2016; and 6,564 in fall 2017.
Meanwhile, our student population from Minnesota and reciprocity states has also grown from 24,173 in fall 2014 to 24,970 in fall 2017. Looking ahead, data from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education shows a projected increase, not decrease, in high school graduates (i.e., potential University of Minnesota students) from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin between now and 2025.
The numbers show that there is still opportunity to align our tuition with the excellence the university provides and the market’s understanding of the value we provide. We will watch these enrollment trends very closely, but are confident we will continue to successfully attract the most talented students to our state who bring more resources to support the education of all.
Eric Kaler, president, University of Minnesota
We Americans are well-aware
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, in defending President Donald Trump’s phone call to a military widow, displayed scorn for a society that does not appreciate the sacrifice of those in the military and he said “most of you, as Americans, don’t know them.” Kelly does not know our country. Everyone I know has direct contact with someone in the military. A very good friend of my son’s had multiple operations after his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. My niece’s husband was deployed three times to Afghanistan. My father was in the Philippines in World War II. Several friends and a cousin were in Vietnam.
Kelly needs to realize we all have experienced these wars in one way or another and do as much as we can to support our people and family who have been in the military.
Paula Roth, Edina