In a little more than a month, you and I will receive our W-2 forms, with widely varying figures. At the lower end of the spectrum are many of us, many hardworking, many for minimum wage. For instance, people without day-to-day resources who have a dream of going to college may find it’s a pipe dream rather than a practical consideration.

Enter a catalyst called the Earned Income Tax Credit, something we use with our W-2s to file taxes. It permits folks who qualify to save thousands of dollars. Pipe dreams can become practical plans. The credit can allow somebody making $7.25 an hour working full time for a year to save $3,373, while that same person with no children gets nothing. An acquaintance of mine became a business professional out of her savings. Further, the EITC kept 9.2 million people like my friend out of poverty last year, many of them children near you in the Twin Cities.

As noted, there are millions of people, like those without kids or under age 25, who are mostly excluded from receiving the EITC. But this tax credit benefits the economy for you and me. A tremendous difference can be made for all Americans by asking your U.S. representative and senators, even now in this lame-duck session, to pass inclusions in this needed program. Your kids will thank you.

Paul Hoffinger, Eagan


They are but one reason walkers opt against using street level

The point to make about Minneapolis’s skyways is not whether they are good or bad; they are, as the Star Tribune Editorial Board says, here to stay (“Find ways to improve skyways, streetscapes,” Nov. 28). The real issue is why Minneapolis has so many unpleasant streets. While the new Nicollet Mall, now under construction, will draw people out of the skyways, few other downtown streets ever will as long as they remain devoted to moving a maximum number of vehicles as fast as possible. We might learn from central Barcelona, Spain, in which through-traffic gets routed around “superblocks,” where the streets in multiblock areas provide vehicle access only to parking ramps, freeing up nearly 60 percent of the public right of way for pedestrians. Great cities have great streets, and if we want to be the former, we need more of the latter.

Tom Fisher, St. Paul


The path has been laid for cities

I would like to add some information to the Dec. 1 commentary about outdoor lighting (“Plymouth saw the light; other cities should, too”). Minnesota law 16B.328, enacted in 2007, deals with the issue of outdoor lighting. (I was the author of this legislation.) The law was also based on the standards developed by the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA) and required the adoption of a model ordinance by the Department of Administration. It also requires these standards to be in place for outdoor lighting installed or replaced using state funds.

The department did not do this but did develop Sustainable Building Guidelines, with a section on reducing light pollution. These guidelines direct users to the IDSA website, which has a lighting ordinance.

With easy access to this, more communities can and should follow Plymouth. We should all ask, where are Minneapolis and St. Paul?

State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis


‘Broadest spirit of hospitality’

Thanks to Martha Rosen, one of the many dedicated volunteers who make the Hennepin County Library system work, for her defense of the downtown library not only as a source of books and other resources, but also as a welcoming place for all people (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 2). It brought to mind the words of Gratia Countryman, director of the Minneapolis Library from 1904 to 1936 and one of the most important figures in Minnesota history. In an article titled “The Library as a Social Centre,” she wrote that the library “should be managed in the broadest spirit of hospitality; the atmosphere should be as gracious, kindly and sympathetic as one’s own home.” It isn’t easy to achieve this goal every day, but I think our libraries try.

Greg Gaut, Minneapolis


Think of it as an ‘internship’ and a path to higher education

Those “researchers” who oppose the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) have a huge blind spot (“ ‘Not’ military recruitment, but quite like it,” Nov. 28). There is a difference between being antiwar (OK) and anti-military profession (not OK).

I think the strength of the JROTC program is precisely because it offers an “internship” into the military profession.

A student who elects military service qualifies for a free college education, a monthly income and access to the G.I. Bill even if he/she doesn’t make the military a career. With college tuitions from $18,000 to $55,000 a year and student debt in excess of $30,000, what better pathway to a college education?

As an Army ROTC officer, I found military service equal to a postgraduate degree.

And, by the way, what is wrong with being in the 1 percent who are prepared to defend our freedom?

Robert Bonine, Mendota Heights

• • •

The idea of allowing the ROTC into high schools has been defended. Heroic sound bites like “support the troops” and “serve your country” are misleading to young people who have not lived long enough to understand that the military-industrial complex is not designed to help people, but rather to serve big corporations, destabilize governments and exploit people in foreign lands. It’s an ugly business when it’s brought into the light, which it rarely is. Only time and wisdom accrued from watching the world turn bring clarity to this reality. Expecting high school adoles- cents to make life-altering decisions without those insights makes them ideal fodder for recruitment efforts. Parents should not have to worry about the military’s influence in our schools. Our children and their potential are too precious to waste in this way.

Mark Mathews, Minneapolis


Leaders need to hear your support for win-win program

Good article on the proposed changes that threaten “College in the Schools,” aka concurrent enrollment (“A threat to free college courses?” Nov. 24) — but there’s more to the story.

First, the nonelected Higher Learning Commission has set the wheels in motion to virtually destroy one of the most successful opportunities for public school students and families. This commission has the public postsecondary institutions running scared with the threat of nonaccreditation hanging over their heads. For example, the Minnesota State system is proposing a very costly plan to enable high school teachers to enhance their credentials through online advanced-level courses — at least it’s a move. But, to my knowledge, little if any dialogue has taken place with the K-12 education community to analyze the needs. Also, Minnesota State alludes to the “possibility” of considering what we call “tested experience” in lieu of competent high school teachers pursuing additional credits.

As a former school administrator in a high school involved with College in the Schools, about three months ago I wrote each Minnesota State board of trustees member a letter expressing concerns over this invaluable program being jeopardized. To this date, not a single acknowledgment. Likewise regarding a communiqué to the governor’s office — no response. There are several other concerns that would require more space to elaborate. Parents of students planning to pursue skyrocketing postsecondary education, you are encouraged to contact your legislators to help preserve this very effective and beneficial win-win program.

Gary L. Gauldin, Park Rapids, Minn.