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It seems that at least annually we read about the latest standardized test results for Minnesota's public-school students ("COVID drag seen in low test scores," Aug. 26). Our great state is often described as near the top of U.S. education systems but seldom reported in comparison with other countries (the real world). Lately, the focus is on the racial "gap" with great intensions on reducing it. What about a serious analysis and practical new commitment to eliminating the gap between all Minnesotans and the world?

Grant McLennan, Vadnais Heights


Deepinder Mayell writes that he is against the proposed change to public school policy in Becker that would prohibit "political indoctrination or the teaching of inherently divisive concepts" ("Free speech under fire in school censorship battles," Opinion Exchange, Aug. 22).

I agree that prohibiting the teaching of inherently divisive concepts is too vague. That part of the policy could be used to prohibit the teaching of valid topics. However, prohibiting political indoctrination and the teaching of a particular political ideology is reasonable. No parent should want schools to be teaching their children that one set of political beliefs are correct and another set are incorrect. You may like it when children are being indoctrinated with your political beliefs, but you won't like it when they are indoctrinated with political beliefs with which you disagree.

Mayell is also against banning the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in schools. He implies that you can't accurately teach history without teaching CRT. The subject matter of CRT is not the facts about the history of slavery, Jim Crow and racial discrimination. CRT is one interpretation of racial discrimination. According to Wikipedia, "CRT scholars argue that the social and legal construction of race advances the interests of White people at the expense of people of color, and that the liberal notion of U.S. law as 'neutral' plays a significant role in maintaining a racially unjust social order, where formally colorblind laws continue to have racially discriminatory outcomes." CRT is a controversial political ideology; it should not be taught as accepted fact in the K-12 history curriculum.

James Brandt, New Brighton


The constant fighting about teachers and parents with separate needs and wants for their children in the coming year is easily rectified. Since some, shall we say, aggressive parents supposedly know best for their child, I propose the following.

Those who want a normal, smart educational experience with trained teachers can go to one room.

Those parents who want their children to learn under different circumstances can go into a different classroom. The key factor is the parents who want special conditions can do the teaching. This way they can see how exciting and easy it is for experienced teachers to teach 20 to 30 kids and give them the education they need!

Remember, the parents must show up every day and do all the work involved, including classroom instruction, grading papers, discipline if necessary, etc. They will see how much fun it is and get what they want — power to teach the way they want.

Good luck and have a great school year!

Paul J. Bartone, Eden Prairie


Forgiveness may be fickle

In July last year, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that President Joe Biden cannot legally forgive federal student loans unilaterally. This must be done through Congress.

Charlie Rose — the top attorney in former President Barack Obama's Department of Education — said such a plan would likely be overturned by the courts and subject the federal government to lawsuits by student loan companies.

Those with these loans should be prepared for this "forgiveness" to be short-lived. It's unlikely the Supreme Court would allow the president to unilaterally forgive $330-$500 billion in debt on his own.

The better course of action would have been to work with Congress to pass legislation that addresses the out-of-control cost of a college education. Biden's action actually makes things worse by rewarding colleges for charging exorbitant amounts for a college degree.

Jim Piga, Mendota Heights


Anybody who thinks that forgiving $10,000 of student loan debt will erase a student's entire debt is woefully out of touch with what college costs. That's about half the cost of one year at most colleges. It will help, and is nothing to sneeze at, but it's also not a free ride for anyone.

Julie Quinn, Le Center, Minn.


Enforcement, and the politics thereof

Irony: In a period where Republicans are pounding the IRS for political gain, will they be outraged at the investigation and possible indictment of Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Kassius Benson, who allegedly withheld staff employment taxes over $150,000 from their wages but didn't pay the IRS? ("Feds probe chief public defender," Aug. 26.) Or, is this exactly why the IRS should employ more auditors and step up enforcement? As a longtime owner of a law firm who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in withholding taxes (and even survived a polite state audit), I support audits and auditors to ensure that self-reporting business income is done accurately and that business owners pay their withholding taxes. What happens to employees whose income taxes were declared but went unpaid? Are they liable?

So, which will it be? Is the IRS an important function of government? Should the GOP get a pass for its crude pandering? And will Dems tout the investigation in support of Biden and in favor of more enforcement? Irony.

Tom Olson, St. Louis Park


Can't I eat my cheese curds in peace?

I enjoyed the appropriately upbeat front-page article about the first day of the Minnesota State Fair ("For fairgoers, it feels like old times again," Aug. 26). I had a wonderful day there myself.

There was a discordant note, however. As I lunched with a good friend at an establishment on Underwood Street, my eyes were caught by the booth across the street, its front topped by a huge sign urging us to "DUMP WALZ." Below it was an unflattering caricature of the governor holding bags of money (presumably portraying that Gov. Tim Walz has run off with our hard-earned dollars). Then, below that, was a row of signs ticking off the governor's "failures."

Shortly after, we noticed a small plane overhead trailing a banner proclaiming "WALZ FAILED!" We and our fellow fairgoers got to "enjoy" this spectacle for the rest of the day.

As I commented to my buddy, and to several other people I ran into, I don't remember ever seeing or hearing such nasty, overtly negative, political discourse at the State Fair (granted, I've only experienced the fair for about three decades).

Even if I agreed with the sentiments expressed (afraid I don't — I think Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have done a commendable job through unprecedentedly trying times), I just feel that such crass and ill-spirited messaging has no place at "The Great Minnesota Get-Together."

And frankly, even if I were inclined to agree with the messaging of the governor's opponents, it would raise a big question: "Do these people have anything constructive to offer?"

Bob Patton, Plymouth


Vice, alas, runs through us all

Owning slaves was reprehensible and is hard to fathom today. How could anyone feel it was acceptable to own another human being or subjugate Indigenous people? Now there is a rush to rename schools, lakes and public buildings that were named after those ignominious individuals or otherwise disown them. It seems to make people feel better and is less offensive to some of us today.

But think about this: Our ancestors were the people who bestowed those names or condoned doing it, presumably choosing names of individuals who were then admired for their political or financial accomplishments. Yes, our own ancestors, who we generally revere for their superior intelligence, wisdom and hard work, contributed to this situation in the first place. It may be hard to accept that the people we descended from could have been anything but ethical and respectable. So, when you look in the mirror, realize you carry some of your ancestor's DNA.

We should all strive to be better than not only those now-disparaged famous individuals, but also our own ancestors. Renaming things is a noble gesture, but if that is all we do, then are we any better than our ancestors? Or will our descendants someday look askance at us if our greatest human rights achievement was to rename buildings?

Wayne Dahlsten, Bloomington