In the current climate of our politicians at loggerheads on almost every issue, how astonishing, and so very refreshing, to read former Gov. Arne Carlson's article about former Vice President Walter Mondale ("A political career in retrospect — and in respect," Nov. 8). Will we ever return to that level of sincere and thought-provoking commentary from politicians in opposite parties when it is warranted? Here's hoping I have enough years left to experience it once again.
Ron Bender, Richfield
In search of a superintendent ready to make big changes
As a parent of two children in Minneapolis Public Schools and one more who will begin in 2019, I am very concerned about the future of this district and our city. Minneapolis has some of the largest achievement and opportunity gaps in this country, and now the state of Minnesota is being sued for "failing to educate poor and minority students" in "increasingly segregated schools" ("Suit seeks metro-wide school integration plan," Nov. 6). When a similar lawsuit was filed 20 years ago, the solution was to allow open enrollment so students could choose to attend suburban schools. Unfortunately, this only exacerbated the problem, as mainly white students were willing and able to afford the transportation to utilize this option.
What I'm wondering is why students should have to leave the city to get a good education. Why can't the schools in Minneapolis be so great that the suburban kids want to bus to our schools? I realize that low property taxes in poor neighborhoods leave these schools with very few resources, but is this the way it has to be? With the right leadership, I am hopeful that we can make the Minneapolis Public Schools a great place for everyone to receive an education.
Tracey Marcelino, Minneapolis
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As I read the Nov. 6 article, I became increasingly frustrated. As an educator who worked with district and charter schools for just shy of 30 years, I think this attack on the state and possibly individual schools is myopic and too simplistic. Are these people really willing to set total blame for poor student performance at the door of the Minnesota Department of Education and schools? Once again, precious resources will be spent on defending the system, when these funds should be spent on our students.
Before we attack the state, we should investigate additional causes that may contribute to student learning, such as:
• What is the attendance history of these students of concern?
• What is the number of schools each struggling child has attended?
• How many parent-teacher-student conferences have been attended by family members?
• What is the average time lapse when students leave one school and enroll in the new one?
• What is the accurate number of students who are homeless as defined by the state Education Department?
• Are these students, discussed in the article, really not learning or just not learning at the same pace set by legislators?
• Are the adopted Minnesota standards too excessive and demanding for all students to know?
• Are there an adequate number of school counselors who can help students with emotional and other roadblocks to their learning?
Before a legal action is pursued, all other obstacles preventing student success should be examined. After a comprehensive examination of all the contributing causes leading to low student achievement, I am sure there is enough blame to go around.
Mary M. Funk, Wabasha, Minn.
CLEAN POWER PLAN
Not just an environmental but also a social-equity issue
"The good fight: Defend the Clean Power Plan" (editorial, Nov. 9) shared state Attorney General Lori Swanson's active support for the Clean Power Plan and highlighted pushback from Republican legislators and several states filing lawsuits to block the plan. Look back in history and find that action for powerful, lasting social and environmental change comes with great resistance, pushback and challenge.
I want to further challenge our state's implementation of the Clean Power Plan. It's clear we must transition away from coal power plants. What's not clear is if this transition will be one that is just, equitable and lasting. It's not enough to take action motivated by what is environmentally being impacted. Minnesota's narrative and implementation of the Clean Power Plan must center on who is already bearing the burden of coal power plants. This means lifting up the stories and solutions of communities of color and low-income communities.
The NAACP's Climate Justice Initiative found that 68 percent of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. This transition requires us to reshape a narrative around action on climate. We must reinvest in local people and communities who are on the front lines of impact and hold the lasting solutions to a new-energy "green" economy.
Nicole Ektnitphong, Minneapolis
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State Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, defends the continued use of coal because of the potential for lost jobs in his small district otherwise ("Obama plan will kill jobs, raise rates," editorial counterpoint, Nov. 12).
Well, I come from a rural district, too. In my hometown in California's San Joaquin Valley, we are not talking about a few hundred jobs. We are talking about a catastrophe. It has hardly rained in four years. Orchards are dying, and farms are going bankrupt. The wells have gone dry, and people are abandoning their homes. What is the California drought costing us? What did Sandy cost? The Duluth flooding? Hurricane Katrina? It is time to look at the true cost of these coal-fired power plants and close them.
Kathy Rogers, Minnetonka
What catch-and-release tells us
"Mighty Mille Lacs muskie a world-class haul" (Nov. 12) is more than a story of a world-class fish. It is a story of a world-class sportsman. Robert Hawkins displayed the elements of fair chase and the humane taking of wild game, then returned the fish to the lake. He truly deserves our respect and admiration, unlike such so-called "sportsmen" as Walter Palmer.
Keith Hersey, Minneapolis
MILLE LACS AREA
Heritage is deep — and broad
I throughly enjoyed and appreciated the "Midwest Traveler" feature in the Nov. 8 Travel section. With all the negative press we often receive about Mille Lacs Lake and the surrounding area, it was encouraging to see such a well-written and well-researched article. It was great to have someone highlight some of the things this area has to offer. The headline ("Native heritage runs deep") was a little misleading, however. It gave the impression that these are all American Indian businesses or attractions. Grand Casino and Eddy's Resort are owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. It's true that Kathio and Father Hennepin are probably two of the most underappreciated of our state parks. It was great how they were highlighted. The Mille Lacs Indian Museum, and especially the Four Seasons Room, is a special part of our state historical society. The businesses mentioned, like McQuoid's, Fisher's, Isle Bakery, Someday Isle, Farm Market Café and The Village at Izatys are locally and privately owned businesses. Perhaps a better title could have been "Mille Lacs heritage runs deep."
Gloria Gardner, Onamia, Minn.