Let me get this straight: “Students in Minnesota public high schools could earn credit for courses that teach the Bible OR [emphasis mine] the Qur’an as an infallible truth under a proposal now before the Legislature.” (“Public school credit for religion?”March 25.) Can there be multiple infallible truths? And what if those truths contradict one another? I’m very confused. Maybe our students would be better served educationally if instead of pursuing the slippery slope of infallible truth we and the Legislature paid more attention to Article XIII, Section 1 of the Minnesota State Constitution: “The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.” Might this be a more simple truth we can all embrace and aspire to?
Mark Storry, Monticello, Minn.
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I am confused by the numbers presented in the March 25 article as a reason to have students attend supplemental schools for religion classes. There are 168 hours in a week; then there are about 35 hours per week for students at school, and 56 hours per week for sleep, and that leaves more than 70 hours a week for other activities. If a family’s priority is to study the Bible as the infallible truth, there is more time available than one hour on Sundays, as a proponent states in the article.
Sue Nielsen, Richfield
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If the proposed legislation to allow public school credit for private school classes becomes law, it will likely cause a tsunami of lawsuits and eventually be ruled unconstitutional. Minnesota lawmakers should review the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Lemon vs. Kurtzman (1971), which established the “Lemon” test that is used by courts to determine whether state or federal laws violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause (U.S. Constitution).
A law can only be constitutional if it passes all three parts of the Lemon test: The law must have a secular purpose; the primary effect of the law must not advance or inhibit religion, and the law must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion. This proposed legislation would clearly violate part three of the test in that it would completely entangle government with religion.
The legislation would cause public schools to monitor, review and investigate religious school courses in order to decide accreditation. This would burden public school officials and force them to become arbiters of whether class material has secular or religious content. And schools will spend thousands on litigation costs.
In today’s world, we have enough disputes over religion, and we certainly don’t need more of it in our public schools. This proposal should never become law.
Joe Tamburino, Minneapolis
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Minnesota has been struggling to innovate countermeasures to stop Islamist recruitment with no success. The very reason behind such blatant failure was that the authorities did not understand the Qur’an and its omnipotent influence on the lives of segregated Muslim Americans. Now, with a stroke of a legislative proposal, the Minnesota Senate is considering a dangerous bill allowing students to take “one-third of classes at religious schools.” This will help extremist ideologies to flourish legally across the state, and the entire nation.
Obviously, Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, who described the proposal as something that gives families some control, is carrying a reptile. “The ultimate local control is the family unit,” he told the Star Tribune, but what local control will keep recruitment strategists for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria at bay?
One obstacle that has stood between authorities and a permanent solution against extremism was the mixture of culture and religious fences. Law enforcement agencies could not infiltrate Muslim cultures. The results were an increasingly paranoid law enforcement and communities that were becoming more segregated rather than integrated. All acknowledged the magnitude of the problem, but no one was able to pinpoint any source. In the meantime, ISIS enjoyed a relative presence and its operatives were on the loose, as kids were taught hard-core ideologies of Islam.
Now ISIS, with this angry bill, will have its actions legalized. That is the surest and the quickest route to radicalizing kids of different religious backgrounds. Not only ISIS, but Islamists who were operating under the banner of culture for the last 10 years will now get down to the licensing office and start grooming the next caliph from North America.
Abdiqani Farah, Minneapolis
The writer is the author of “Minority Outcry for a Dialogue in Education.”
DESTINATION MEDICAL CENTER
No taxpayer dollars are going to Mayo’s expansion specifically
The Star Tribune reported March 24 on the exciting news that the Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative had accomplished a huge milestone — that DMC-related private investments in Rochester through the end of 2016 have totaled nearly $300 million. This private investment includes both Mayo Clinic and other developments that are now committed and underway. As the story noted, there is an additional $700 million of proposed private projects that are in various stages of development. The DMC legislation passed in 2013 authorizes the state to assist the city of Rochester with financing public infrastructure to support the DMC expansion once the private investment had reached at least $200 million.
Unfortunately, the original headline of the story was incorrect in that it implied the public dollars were “headed to Mayo.” A correction subsequently was published, but to be clear, none of the public DMC dollars will go to Mayo Clinic; Mayo will finance all its expansion with Mayo private capital, not taxpayer dollars. Mayo has committed to invest $3.5 billion in Rochester over the 20-year cycle to expand its facilities and services to strengthen its position as the leading global center for health and wellness. Further, we estimate other private investors will commit $2.1 billion to help build out the needed housing, hotels, hospitality, retail, office and other elements needed to support an expansion of this scale.
In addition to the private investment, this major economic development initiative is anticipated to bring 35,000 new jobs and billions in new tax revenue to the state and other units of government.
The DMC is meeting and exceeding expectations with a strategy that relies on the committed investments of the private sector before any public dollars are expended for public costs. Building on Minnesota’s strengths as a leader in health care and the biosciences, it is a positive story for the entire state of Minnesota.
Lisa Clarke, Rochester
The writer is executive director of the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency.
AIR TRAVEL DECORUM
Sometimes, you dress the part
Regarding United Airlines’ denial of boarding for two young girls for wearing leggings (March 27): Please. This isn’t a sexist thing. As the daughter of a NWA pilot, we understood the rules for traveling on a pass: We would wear a dress, and the men had a tie on. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be allowed on the plane. An employee knows there is a different dress code for riding on a pass, as these girls were as relatives of an employee. One of my relatives was handed a tie by the gate agent.
Of course, back when I was young, riding on a pass meant first class. My father never explained that this was a “rule,” only that we needed to look like “ladies.” So, on that long flight to London, I wonder how much of a “lady” I looked like in that miniskirt.
Susan Marsh, Eagan