I failed to write in response to Mitch Pearlstein’s piece about postsecondary education (“Who — who? — will take the road less traveled by?” June 2), but Judith Koll Healey’s counterpoint (“College is about more than landing a lucrative job,” June 8) merits rebuttal.

I doubt anyone would dispute the value of education at any level, but Healey argues that college education is necessary for “the preservation of democracy.” This elitist stance is an affront to our forefathers and to tens of millions of loyal, contributing Americans without her esteemed liberal arts degree. Further, it misses the point of Pearlstein’s article.

My original reaction to Pearlstein’s piece was that Minnesota’s current higher education structure tends to perpetuate the college-orientated approach to postsecondary education. As illustrated by the state’s appropriations, the term “higher education” has become synonymous with college or university: The Legislature appropriates funds to the University of Minnesota and to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. About 30 years ago, the state colleges, community colleges, and vocation/technical schools were combined, resulting in the current state system. This may have produced some economic efficiencies achieved primarily by geographic combinations, but these came at the expense of Minnesota’s public vocational training — at least for vocations not requiring supplemental general education.

Minnesota should combine all postsecondary collegiate instruction under the University of Minnesota and create a new postsecondary board to oversee vocational instruction. Obviously, there is ample opportunity for collaboration, but there should be no overlap. All professions (vocations) benefit from general education and some professions have made it a prerequisite for the award of a credential — letters you can use behind your name. But leave those to colleges and universities.

This new structure would raise awareness of the value of noncollegiate vocations and would result in a more effective allocation of money by both the state and its student-customers.

Nick LaFontaine, Richfield

CUBA

Trump’s reason for reversal of U.S. stance is obvious — it’s Obama

In contrast to the Star Tribune Editorial Board (“Why new rules on Cuba hurt the U.S.,” June 10), I don’t think it’s at all difficult to explain why President Donald Trump would befriend dictatorial leaders around the world while taking a chainsaw to Cuba and its rapport with the United States. Simply put, Cuba is another casualty in Trump’s episodic adventures of “Obama Derangement Syndrome.”

In the two and a half years since he was elected, Trump’s only guiding principle seems to be to undo what Barack Obama did as president. This assault on his predecessor’s legacy is what energizes and drives his policy views. He called the Trans-Pacific Partnership “the Obama Trans-Pacific Partnership” and the U.S. withdrew from the pact. He labeled the Iran nuclear deal a disaster before he pulled out. The Paris climate accord suffered the same fate. All three were major foreign policy achievements during Obama’s term.

On the domestic front, Trump has done a 180 on gun control, abortion rights, race relations and immigration. He went after Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, the Affordable Care Act, with a vengeance. To make matters worse, Trump is vindictive. He spent years whipping people into a frenzy with his “birther” nonsense and he seems to know his base has no problem with him completely and totally unraveling Obama’s legacy, regardless of the consequences.

Because he has no deep convictions of his own, whenever Trump’s motivations for an action appear unclear, the rule of thumb to remember is: If Obama was for it, Trump will be against it. Obama is his negative reference point.

Stephen Monson, Golden Valley

MINNEHAHA

Don’t block cars from the parkway

Minneapolis is a beautiful city and I feel lucky to be a resident. However, we have made some colossal mistakes over the years. Consider some of the big ones: bulldozing the Metropolitan Building and other architectural gems to clean up the Gateway neighborhood; allowing the blockage of a major thoroughfare with a Kmart store, cutting off Nicollet Avenue; and replacing the exquisite, cobblestone Nicollet Mall with a flat, dull concrete wasteland, devoid of charm and ambiance.

Now, we are considering adding to this list with the proposed closure of parts of Minnehaha Parkway to automobiles (“Mpls. set to force cars off parkway,” front page, June 7).

Our beloved Minnehaha Parkway is something we should cherish and protect. A plan currently put forth by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board would close parts of the parkway to automobiles, nullifying its federal designation as a scenic Grand Rounds, destroying its usage as a city thoroughfare, dumping traffic onto surrounding neighborhood streets, adding confusion for drivers and cutting off access for seniors and the handicapped.

Why? It’s the same reason we committed all the aforementioned blunders: Some consultant was hired to fix a problem and made recommendations with no consideration of how the people of Minneapolis and our visitors actually use the area.

Let’s stop this plan before we have another massive misstep on our hands and permanently ruin the parkway. The creator of our parks system, Theodore Wirth, is turning over in his grave.

Maureen Mulvaney, Minneapolis

DAVID PENCE

‘Conversion’ of one man doesn’t mean Vietnam War was warranted

D.J. Tice’s column remembering his friend David Pence (“A worthy reprint for a distinctive thinker,” June 11), comparing Pence to John Kerry, caught my attention because Pence and I were almost the same age, and we got drafted to go to Vietnam, refused induction and went to trial here in Minnesota at almost the same time.

Pence’s and my experiences diverged when we reached trial, though we both drew sympathetic judges. Pence, with his high-profile lawyer and high-profile trial, was convicted but got a light sentence. I, in a low-profile trial, with a less-expensive — but as it turned out, better — lawyer, was acquitted based on procedural errors by my draft board. We both went on to serve our community with distinction. For whatever reason, I have survived Pence.

But before his death, Pence regretted his “resistance” and came to support U.S. militarism in Southeast Asia. Kerry, on the other hand, served, even volunteering for combat assignments, and later became well-known for his repudiation of the Vietnam War. Tice conveniently judges Pence as wrong first, right later, and Kerry as right first, wrong later.

But I suggest that it is dangerous to anchor our views of current geopolitics based on the misgivings of either of these individuals. Having been of Vietnam-age, and having somehow lived this long, I have many friends who served, and many who did not. And within both groups, some are proud of the choices they made 50 years ago (count me in this club), and others not so much.

Tice uses Pence’s “conversion” to argue that Vietnam was a necessary war (and even perpetuates the popular myth that Vietnam vets were abused when the came home; there has never been any documentation of this phenomena), but Tice is wrong. The individual heroism of some American soldiers serving in Vietnam does not offset the acts of barbarism committed by others.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis