It’s not mediocre, and not part of Obamacare

State Rep. Jim Abeler’s sky-is-falling commentary on the Common Core initiative (“Minnesota must reject Common Core mediocrity,” Feb. 15) was a bit sly. Moreover, it seemed as much a diatribe against the Affordable Care Act as it did a comment on national education policy. Abeler — who is running for the U.S. Senate — pejoratively mentioned Obamacare three times, directly and indirectly.

Common Core is not, as Abeler insinuated, a federal program. It is overseen by state governors, education commissioners and their representative organizations, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It is true that President Obama supports Common Core and has provided $438 million of economic stimulus funding into developing standardized tests aligned to the standards. Additionally, the federal government strongly encourages states to adopt college and career-readiness standards — standards determined by the states.

Charges that Core standards are “mediocre” and that “ingenuity and thinking outside the box are discarded” are not factual. Common Core puts less emphasis on rote memorization and more on critical, divergent and higher-order thinking. It will ask more from students, not less.

Minnesota has adopted only the reading portion, which uses literature — fiction, poetry, drama — to cultivate analytic and conceptual skills essential to the workplace in the coming century. This won’t be easy, and there will be flaws to be addressed, but I think Common Core is the right direction for Minnesota.




He’s a partisan mostly to opposing partisans

In her counterpoint on Sen. Al Franken’s performance, Republican activist Annette Meeks (“The ‘real’ Al Franken? Try partisan purity,” Feb. 17) dismissed his work out of hand. She basically blamed him for Obamacare and seemed to compliment Sen. Amy Klobuchar for being ranked 62nd out of 100 senators in willingness to to reach across partisan lines.

She gave Franken no credit for some fine work, especially in women’s rights and protection.

If Klobuchar were running in 2014, would Meeks even give a thought to voting for her? Or is she hoping for a Tea Party type along the Ted Cruz lines?

Partisan purity indeed.

GARY DIAMOND, Minneapolis



It thwarts employer’s best judgment

Having been a business owner for over 30 years, I have a perspective I have not seen represented in any discussion on minimum-wage rates.

I like to pay people for their expertise, experience and skill set. I really don’t need any government input on what that rate is. It is a private transaction between me and the employee who is marketing their labor to me.

But if the government decides to raise the minimum I am required to pay, it raises the most important question of all: What guarantee do I have that worker productivity and value will rise in relation to the added expense?




Golden Valley group home foes are confused

The mob mentality expressed by the individuals whose comments put a halt to a group home for mentality ill children in Golden Valley is the worst kind of prejudice (“Fear blocks option to treat mental illness,” Feb. 15). On one hand, people rail at the government for more treatment for mental illness to alleviate school shootings, then put a stop to a facility that would cure mentally ill children in a setting most conducive to that cure.




It starts innocently, not with intention

To a Feb. 13 letter writer who expressed his opposition to comparing addiction to a disease like his, I’d like to say, first of all, you are fighting cancer with courage and heroism. It is a very tough road to travel. You have my sympathy and my prayers. I wish it hadn’t happened to you.

Your statement “I didn’t do something to myself to cause this” is the line of demarcation where the non-addicted and addicted part ways and understanding. Before an addict is using heroin, sniffing cocaine or drinking without stopping, he or she had an innocent swallow of beer or that first glass of wine. The illness of addiction is set into motion from that moment on, usually with no awareness that something profound has just happened. Nobody would take that drink or that drag on a funny cigarette if the outcome of addiction were guaranteed.




There can and should be grace in defeat

The other day I read that a mother at Sochi chastised her son for not meeting her and her (perceived) country’s expectations. On Monday morning, I was greeted by the Star Tribune’s Olympics coverage with a page-wide photo of a dejected speedskater hanging her head and an article about Team USA’s failures — one of many such articles since the games began — accompanied by the tally of countries’ medal counts.

Please. Let’s follow the example of the athletes who accept both winning and losing with grace, hug each other win or lose, and even celebrate a rival’s victory.

DAVID RICKERT, Staples, Minn.