SPECIAL EDUCATION

Laws already subject to careful review

The March 9 editorial (“State needs better cost controls for special ed”) rightly called on the federal government to fund its share of special education costs and on legislators to approve Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal for additional funding. The call to review Minnesota’s laws was perplexing, however.

Minnesota has recognized the need to review state special education laws and rules periodically. In 2007-09, a legislative task force did an extensive review that exceeded the federal government’s. As a result, some laws were eliminated.

Since then, bills have been introduced or proposed to eliminate as many as 53 sections of special education law and 28 sections of special education rules. Fortunately, parents and disability advocates made legislators aware that the rules and statutory language targeted for elimination did, in fact, provide much-needed protection.

Given that Minnesota has already covered this territory, any new attempts should be careful to propose only changes that will enhance the education of children with disabilities, not reduce their rights.

Steve Larson, St. Paul

• • •

Lost in the conversation are the professionals who dedicate their careers to this field. Special ed teachers face significant challenges every day: Each of their students needs a custom approach; the public often brings negativity to the arena, given concerns over costs; the government demands a significant amount of regulatory paperwork, and administrators often have special ed at the bottom of school district priorities.

With everyone seemingly against them, I want to stand up and salute special ed teachers across the state for their dedication and caring. I can tell you that my son received the attention, hands-on training and the skill-building he needed to become more communicative and more independent. The growth he achieved was well worth the expense.

Steve Hayes, Plymouth

 

INTERNET PORN

Piracy battle distracts from the real issue

The legal issues surrounding Internet piracy are minuscule compared with the pandemic of Internet pornography (“Porn piracy or shakedown?” March 11). How can we fight a societal evil if we no longer recognize the foe? Are we more concerned with money than morality?

Suppose a band of pirates had attacked a ship carrying a cargo of human slaves, but had stolen only a paltry amount of silver. Consider the absurdity if abolitionist champions such as William Wilberforce, Frederick Douglass or Abraham Lincoln had then shifted their focus to the prevention of international piracy.

One might say the comparison is misguided. Not so if one considers that the addicts of pornography are enslaved by destructive behavior likened to cocaine or heroin usage, that intense pornographic viewing produces progressive desires that are especially harmful to young children and women, and that gross revenues reach into the tens of billions.

Keep the right focus. Identify the real enemy. End the slavery.

Charlie McCone, Springfield, Minn.

 

KEYSTONE PIPELINE

Tar sands can’t grow without it. Got that?

The one thing upon which environmentalists, bankers and oil executives agree is the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is critical to expanding the tar sands market, because it is the only break-even means of bringing the product to market. I am appalled by the State Department’s recent draft supplemental environmental impact statement asserting that without the pipeline, the tar sands will be transported anyway by rail.

This is simply not true. We have seen a boom in North Dakota rail oil transport, but not Alberta tar sands oil, because it is too expensive for the latter. Rising costs in production, transportation and labor leave industry experts to admit that without the easy link to the Gulf, tar sands development will be greatly slowed.

In the meantime, prices for the Canadian crude have fallen for the very reason that, without the export capacity created by the pipeline, there is a glut of it in the Midwest.

If the thought of a runaway, out-of-control climate does not scare you enough to oppose the Keystone pipeline, consider your pocketbook: The impact of President Obama’s approving it would be to raise U.S. oil and oil import prices.

Judy Chucker, St. Louis Park

 

MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA

A menu of options for higher revenue

The lack of full orchestral concerts of classical music is now in its sixth month. The Minnesota Orchestral Association Board and its musicians have positive steps they can take to increase revenues and endowment rather than just taking a knife to expenses. These include:

• Adopting another city without a major orchestra (such as Austin, Texas, where Minnesota already has a corporate presence) and playing there several times to start or finish the concert year.

• Reaching out to Minnesotans and others who winter in Scottsdale, Ariz., or Naples, Fla., by giving concerts at each venue.

• Scheduling a concert or two at the newly renovated Northrop Auditorium or Ted Mann Hall to reintroduce young people to classical music.

• Increasing publicity for Minnesota Orchestra events.

• Scheduling classical events in Duluth and Rochester to broaden the orchestra’s regional appeal.

• Meeting with business leaders of the major corporations headquartered in Minneapolis and St. Paul to appeal for increased financial support.

• Reevaluating the endowment portfolio to rely more heavily on equities than on bonds, as was the case before the 2008 crash.

• Working more intensely in local schools to increase familiarity with classical music.

• Engaging with audiences by featuring musicians and donors in programs and meeting with audiences following performances, as Guthrie Theater actors now do.

Arthur E. Higinbotham, Minneapolis