Tuesday night, the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians baseball teams played under the lights in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was the brightest place on the island. Were it not for generators and batteries, Puerto Rico was dark.

Puerto Rico's electric grid failed Wednesday morning. It will be another day or two before factories and businesses can reopen and people's lives will approximate normal.

Many Puerto Ricans have been dealing with life without power since Hurricane Maria hit the island last September. Some living in communities on this U.S. territory will probably be without power this September.

Why should we concern ourselves with these U.S. citizens? Sure, if they cannot keep their factories running we might pay more for our pharmaceuticals, electronics parts and other stuff. But, I think the tax cuts will get the island up and running some day.

And it cannot be that bad; ESPN was able to broadcast the game. The fans at the game looked real happy, too.

Carl Lee, Minnetonka

What research supports

The April 14 commentary by Art Rolnick ("State should double down on early education now") was heavy on advocacy but light on research support, despite his affiliation with a research university. At a time when the state's one-time investment in the voluntary preschool program is scheduled to end without legislative involvement, he advocates for a doubling of spending on early learning scholarships instead. Research doesn't support this.

Elsewhere, Rolnick typically cites only a 2011 SRI evaluation of the Frogtown pilot as research supporting the effectiveness of the scholarships. In that report, which is notable due to the failure of the evaluators to recruit the intended comparison group, the scholarship recipients showed gains in literacy as expected while they were in preschool but fared no better than those receiving the state child care subsidy at kindergarten entry. If there are stronger studies, presumably Rolnick would cite them. We should continue to push for more evidence on effectiveness in linking the scholarships to improvements in school readiness.

Publicly funded preschool has a stronger research base. Just in the last few months, for example, a rigorous study of state-funded preschool programs in eight states by Steven Barnett reports positive effects on school readiness in each state. A Dartmouth economist reports that poor children in states with universal preschool do better in reading than do poor kids in states with programs targeted toward the poor. Upjohn Institute economists find that school readiness for black children is higher in states with publicly funded preschool. Until the scholarship model is supported by stronger research, it makes no sense to eliminate spending on a promising state-funded preschool program, which is backed by rigorous and peer-reviewed studies, for a program with much weaker research support.

Judy A. Temple, St. Paul

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There is overwhelming support from research that state pre-K programs have large positive effects on school readiness and performance. Recent evidence from Oklahoma, Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and North Carolina are just a few examples. The best evidence of long-term effects leading to high economic returns is from school-based programs, which is the basis of the voluntary pre-K program.

State pre-K began to expand in the 1980s, and it wasn't until the last session that Minnesota created voluntary pre-K, the state's first true pre-K program. To this day, we remain near the bottom in access. The worst possible decision would be to cut funding, reducing the number of Minnesota children served by 4,000 across 59 districts. The evidence-based decision would be to expand the program to serve more children.

Voluntary pre-K has provided a strong foundation for building an early childhood system that could serve all Minnesota young learners at a high level of quality. With a large state surplus and decades of evidence, there is no better time to make the needed investments.

Arthur J. Reynolds, Minneapolis

The previous two writers are co-directors of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota and professors in the Institute of Child Development and Humphrey School of Public Affairs.


The flaws in the loyalty

"We care only what he has done since taking office," states an April 18 letter writer. By that standard ongoing support of President Donald Trump on the part of "evangelicals" is justified.

OK, fair enough. New standard. "What he has done 'since' taking office." Let's see now. How does "what he has done 'since' taking office" resonate with the words of Micah, which I believe are still in the evangelical Bible: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God."

David Hauschild, Blaine

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The April 18 letter writer states: "I believe I speak for most of these conservatives. … [Trump] speaks for us and acts for us."

So President Trump, who tweets vacuous and disgusting insults ('"James Comey is a slimeball"), denigrates in the most vile language certain countries and their emigrants, who wiped out the DACA protections for young people, who pulled out of treaties too numerous to mention and left the world agape at our instability, who started a trade war boasting "trade wars are easy to win," who threw his own appointees under the bus numerous times (think Rex Tillerson, Nikki Haley, Jeff Sessions) with his abrupt and untethered policy shifts — this man speaks and acts for present-day conservatives?

My father was a lifelong Republican, of the Everett Dirkson-Bob Taft-Nelson Rockefeller variety. I am glad he did not live to see this day.

Judith K. Healey, Minneapolis

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An April 18 letter stated that "Abortion is neither lovely, elegant, beautiful nor kind" and "if one advocates abortion, that person's connection to the 'grace that is at the heart of Christianity' seems questionable." Does the writer not realize that at least 40 percent of the population of America is not Christian and may not share its beliefs on this issue? If it were any of my business to comment on the religious beliefs of others, I would suggest that Christians take the writer's comments to heart, not advocate for or have an abortion, and leave the rest of us to our own beliefs and consciences.

The First Amendment is clear that religious beliefs may not be legislated. It gives all of us the right not only to freedom of religion, but freedom from the religious beliefs of others. I would ask Christians to take the objectivity test. If another religion tried to legislate its religious beliefs, beliefs you did not share, would that be OK with you?

I would further ask why the message of grace stops after making sure a baby gets born. Republicans state very clearly, with their assault on the social safety net, that after a baby is born, it is on its own. Republicans have cut, and vow to continue to cut, education budgets, after-school funding, food stamps, housing subsidies, school lunches, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, to name a few, while giving a financial windfall to themselves and to the donor class to fund their re-election campaigns. I find that neither "lovely, elegant, beautiful nor kind."

Ruth Conley, Andover