It was incredibly difficult to read about the suffering that the children of Jerry Lee Curry underwent and how the agencies charged with protecting them failed (“ ‘House of horrors’ case gets review,” March 21). Even after one of the girls escaped and reported the abuse in spring 2017, it apparently took until February 2018 to remove the kids to safety. But it was harder to read the complete lack of inner reflection by the various child-protection services. They are stressed by the deluge of accusatory calls and e-mails, and lament that “it’s so easy to blame.” As stressful as living in a house of rape, torture and starvation, without rescue, despite more than 50 calls? Hennepin County’s plan to reflect on what “worked and what didn’t work” should be a quick review, and it should rain pink slips at the Government Center.
Teri Bentson, Minneapolis
RACE AND SCHOOL DISCIPLINE
Whatever Kersten’s critics say, courts have their own opinion
Setting aside state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius’ vicious ad hominem attacks on Katherine Kersten (“What Kersten can’t grasp about schools but readers should,” counterpoint, March 21, in response to “Undisciplined,” March 18), she reports that “a close look at the data would have made it abundantly clear that a number of Minnesota schools are suspending kids of color at far higher rates than their demographic proportion.”
Even if that is true, the question is whether it means anything. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held, for example, “[D]isparity [in discipline rates] does not, by itself, constitute discrimination.” Furthermore, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has held that such demands for demographic proportionality constitute forbidden racial quotas: “Racial disciplinary quotas violate equity in its root sense.” That schools must have race-neutral school discipline policies is without question, but the presence of racial disparities does not mean the school, its leadership or its teachers are engaged in racism, and it certainly does not mean that federal or state bureaucrats may impose racial quotas for school discipline. Such quotas are not just foolish and even dangerous — as we learned recently in Florida; they are unconstitutional.
William Perry Pendley, Lakewood, Colo.
The writer is president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
• • •
Cassellius’s counterpoint to Kersten’s “Undisciplined” was hardly a fresh approach from the Minnesota Department of Education. Here are just a few of the talking points she used to describe Kersten’s comments:
• “Divisive diatribes.”
• “A new low.”
• “Outrageous claims.”
• “Misleading, reckless and — worst of all — flat-out racist.”
• “Right-wing sources.”
• “Racial resentments.”
• “Divisive and hateful.”
Enough is enough! The Minnesota Department of Education and our children deserve better than Brenda Cassellius.
Patrick Doyle, Motley, Minn.
Editor’s note: In a post this week on the website of the Center of the American Experiment, Katherine Kersten responded to two recent counterpoints to her March 18 commentary in the Star Tribune. See https://tinyurl.com/kerstenresponds.
At least understand what you mean when you use terminology
There were no less than six letters about the gun-control issue published March 21. Three of the submissions referred to the availability of “assault rifles.” Two letters called them “military assault” rifles. One made the statement, “No civilian should have the right to own a weapon of war” and asked, “Why can’t we all agree on that?”
First, according to our current laws, no citizen can own a fully automatic “weapon of war.” They have been outlawed since the 1930s. How much more unlawful do they have to be?
Second, the rifles being singled out are semi-automatic rifles and are not capable of killing a large number of people in seconds. They fire only as the trigger is pulled, not in a continuous operation with one pull of the trigger only.
Third, the NRA is accused of instilling “fear and paranoia” about the removal of the right of a person to own a gun from all of society. I suggest fear is born out of ignorance. The writer is instilling “fear and paranoia” in the citizenship because of people’s ignorance of what constitutes a weapon of war, and perpetuating that ignorance. The AR-15 and guns of this style are not assault weapons any more than any semiautomatic hunting rifle of a different stock design. Therefore, I cannot agree on the writer’s assertions. Let’s work toward more stringent qualifications for people to own a gun. That at least addresses the root of the problem.
John George, Northfield
We see where Enbridge directs its money. (Not to landowners.)
I see that giant foreign oil pipeline corporation Enbridge spent a whopping $5.3 million greasing the skids of Minnesota’s government to get its way on its proposed Line 3 tar sands pipeline, way over double what the next biggest group spent (“Enbridge tops lobby spending,” March 21).
If Enbridge were Russian, I wonder what investigations would be launched? But since it’s just a Canadian company trying to buy our government and pollute our headwaters area, no worry.
Enbridge, which has millions to spend bending the ears of our Legislature and Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which will decide the fate of Line 3, is a miser when it comes to paying for pipeline easements to landowners along its ill-routed pipeline. They offered me $20,000 to cross my 44 acres of well-managed wildlife land. (I won an award for my habitat work in 2016.) I said no. And, west of me they offered a poor, elderly widower only $1,000 (he told me this himself when I met with him a month ago) to cross his land.
I hope the Public Utilities Commission won’t be so easily bought by this hoodwinker of the north. This pipeline is a bad deal for all of Minnesota and isn’t even needed, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Money talks, though, and we’ll see how loudly when the PUC makes its decision in June.
Mark Herwig, White Bear Lake
A welcoming place, in reality
One has to wonder just what goes on in the newspaper staff meetings and who decides just what to print and whose character is to be, well — “assassinated” is the only word that comes to mind (“Growing diversity puts town to test,” March 19).
If I may be so bold as to speak for the overwhelming majority of the people in Pipestone County, you will not find a more open and accepting place in the once-great state of Minnesota, and I say that with much regret.
So, tell us again, all you metro liberals, just how wonderful and peaceful you are in the Twin Cities. Nirvana-like, almost, right? Pffffft.
And to the Star Tribune: Next time if you ever hire one, send a reporter down and spend some quality time with us. They’ll have a different story to be sure.
Doug Carstensen, Pipestone, Minn.
Editor’s note: As its dateline indicated, the article in question was, in fact, reported from Pipestone.