Buy American?

Regarding "So you say the automakers don't get it. Are you sure?" (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 13): Mike Cox, the attorney general of Michigan, asks this question and then goes on to invite every member of the U.S. Senate to visit the North American Auto Show in Detroit this week. He touts the cars that General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are showing.

However, the show has now announced that after much testing, its car of the year is the Hyundai Genesis, which is less than half the price of the BMWs and Mercedeses that it is compared to, and is a nicer and safer car. Now who doesn't get it?



I'd like to add to Rick Nelson's pet peeve about Target in "Withering Glance" ("These are a few of our least favorite things," Jan. 11). He mentions he doesn't exchange so much as a syllable with the employee at the register.

I think it's interesting that any Target cashier is quick to ask if I have a Target credit card, but is too pressed for time to squeak out a "thank you."

Interesting how two little words might leave customers feeling better about spending their dwindling disposable income.

Come on, Target, lead the way to making the world a happier place in '09!


Thumbs-down on Big Stone II

This week, Minnesota will decide the fate of the Big Stone II coal plant by approving or denying new transmission lines. The plant which will produce up to 580 megawatts of dirty, old electricity is estimated to be built by 2015.

Meanwhile, Xcel Energy just announced the opening of their first wind power facility right here in Minnesota. The wind farm produces 100.5 megawatts of clean electricity and gives Xcel over 1200 megawatts of wind generated power in the Upper Midwest.

The future of Minnesota energy production is in clean, renewable technology, and the Big Stone II plant should be passed up so Minnesota can continue to lead the way into a new energy future.


Statistics about English proficiency

A Jan. 7 Star Tribune article about lagging numbers of English as a Second Language teachers in Minnesota reported: "For instance, in state fourth- and eighth-grade reading tests administered in 2006-07, 62 percent of Minnesota students scored high enough to be considered proficient. Of ESL students, only 31 percent were deemed proficient."

I was disappointed when I then read, "'What we want to focus on is closing that gap," Seagren said." State Education Commissioner Alice Seagren was referring to the gap between English Language Learners and all students in terms of academic achievement.

What she did not mention is that students who become proficient in English are no longer part of the cohort of students in the sub-group "English Language Learners." That is, they are no longer tested as members of that group. A student will never stop being part of an ethnic sub-group such as Asian-American but that same student will, after years of study, stop being part of the English Language Learner group.

This is to say, the gap will never close. It statistically cannot close because the students who are proficient in English are not tested as members of that group while the students who recently arrived from overseas will be tested.


The way they voted

A Jan. 13 letter writer commended U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum "for their brave stand in opposing the blatantly one-sided resolution supporting Israel in its war on Gaza." In fact, both answered "Present." They did not vote against the resolution. Only five House members, including recent presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, voted against the resolution.


The DFL Party and its U.S. Senate candidates

Al Franken is the latest in a long list -- a long, long list -- of weak U.S. Senate candidates put forth by the Minnesota DFL. While contemplating the endless angst of the recount, we should remember that Norm Coleman's seat was rated as "highly vulnerable" before Franken was anointed by the DFL.

There is actually a strong bench of real-life candidates. How did we get stuck with this one?