Earlier start date is not the best answer for kids
My kids and many of their classmates scored fives (the top score possible) on Advanced Placement exams with their Eagan High School educations. School began after Labor Day, and they utilized every day of their summer vacation ("Schools should set their own calendars," Jan. 24). Let's continue to enjoy the bit of good weather we get in Minnesota and not start school earlier.
STEPHANIE THOMAS, EAGAN
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Has it occurred to anyone in the start date debate that a simple solution would be to move the high-stakes tests to the end of May? That way, summer can end on Labor Day and schools can have six more weeks to prepare for the tests.
SEAN FLEMING, ST. PAUL
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CLINTON AND CONGRESS
Her testimony about Benghazi was fruitless
I thought we lived in the United States of America, but as I listened to Hillary Clinton talk to Congress about Benghazi, it quickly became apparent that we don't. The discussion became a blame game of Republicans vs. Democrats. This is getting old. Come on, Congress. Let's become "one nation under God" again.
JIM LOVRIEN, Northfield
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One more question for Clinton: How can someone take "full responsibility" for something but assign the blame everywhere else?
TERRY W. LOVAAS, BROOKLYN PARK
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Oberender's story is alarming wake-up call
The article about Christian Philip Oberender said the state's background-check system failed ("Murderous 'monster' acquires an arsenal," Jan. 20). This may be true, but the main failure was with the justice system. After killing his mother as a teen, Oberender then spent three years undergoing mental-health treatments. In 1998, he was labeled "mentally ill and dangerous" and was sent to a state hospital. So what is this man doing out of prison? Also, a convicted murderer shouldn't be able to legally obtain firearms.
DAN BOE, COTTAGE GROVE
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Putting photos of Oberender and his gun, as well as his story, on the front page was irresponsible. It's one of the reasons we continue to see mass killings by deranged people. They see stories like this and are drawn to gaining similar notoriety.
TED CLIKEMAN, ROCHESTER, MINN.
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Haveman commentary missed the mark
If everybody paid their fair share in homestead property taxes based on their income, Minnesota would be better off. Mark Haveman is wrong to imply that property taxes are more stable than our other taxes ("The property tax maligned and misunderstood," Jan. 20). During the last economic downturn, property values plummeted, personal income decreased and many taxpayers saw their property tax burden increased.
JURIS CURISKIS, Minneapolis
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In my latest property tax notice, roughly one-third goes to the county, one-third to the city and one-third to the school district. Perhaps Haveman could have said that if we want property tax relief, we should be addressing the issue at these local levels and not the Legislature.
NORANN DILLON, Plymouth
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What Minnesotans like and dislike in the plan
Minnesota now has a $1 billion deficit that Gov. Mark Dayton wants to make up by reforming the tax code and increasing taxes on the wealthy ("Dayton's tax reform: Now, the debate," Jan. 23). The public is going to be surprised at how the Legislature defines the term "wealthy" in order to transfer money from one pocket to the other to lower property taxes and spend more on education.
TERRENCE M. FITZGERALD, HOPKINS
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The only way professional couples won't be punished by Dayton's tax increases is to file for divorce, but still live together. It's amazing that our state has gotten to the point where we are better off single than married. This says a lot about our society and the problems we face.
JERRY LESTER, WACONIA, MINN.
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I was excited to see Dayton's strong support for regional transit in his proposed budget. Having access to convenient mass transportation has significantly improved my quality of life. Being stuck in rush-hour traffic is frustrating for everyone. As a graduate student, I find that taking the bus every morning allows me to spend my commute time reading, and it's more affordable than driving to campus.
TERESA ROARK, Minneapolis
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Don't only name issues, but also offer solutions
If Minnesotans want to leave a world to their grandchildren anything like the world they grew up in, they should not react to climate change as if they are airline passengers in a plane about to crash ("Prepare for impact of climate change," Jan. 20). Your editorial on the newly published National Climate Summary focused on adaptation to climate change and completely failed to mention mitigation efforts to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere. We are not passive actors in this drama. We can each reduce our carbon emissions, even by driving less.
BRIAN MCNEILL, Minneapolis
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I read your editorial support for basic climate research with a sense of profound relief that someone is listening. To ensure future water supply and food production, we must continue to enhance funding for basic research on our climate as well as more sustainable ways to produce food. Farmers need this information to adopt best practices. It seems clear that our citizens will benefit from a more productive economy and a friendlier climate. The temperature increases being predicted for future decades are a problem for the whole nation and should get us all marching on Washington.
JEANNE JOHNSON, ALEXANDRIA, MINN.