The search for a new Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent has been one of the most intensely scrutinized education issues in the past year. This shows how invested we all are in figuring out how to best serve Minneapolis’ diverse community of students and families and provide the leadership our kids’ schools deserve.
Our first search failed to give us the result we intended. The school board is committed to completing a successful search, and we have spent significant time discerning what went wrong, what went right and how we can do things better. We remain as committed as ever to taking the time to listen to our community’s voices and values and integrate them into our work as we move forward intentionally and efficiently.
On Tuesday, the board will be voting on an improved superintendent selection process that has been designed to better guide us toward success. It builds upon the original search process by adding the outside expertise and perspective of a search team to assist in searching for and evaluating candidates, then helping the board narrow the candidates down to a shortlist of finalists. Once finalists are chosen, much like in the original process, we will incorporate ample opportunity for the community to get to know the finalists and offer perceptions to the board. As the process concludes early this summer with the board’s selection of a superintendent, we believe that the community will have felt fully invested and empowered in the process and join us in working with and supporting our schools’ new leader.
In the end, we all want the same thing: world-class educational opportunities and results for our children. Our schools are filled with committed, skilled teachers and bright students ready to learn. Our community is fortunate to have parents and partners who help support and supplement students’ classroom experiences. My colleagues on the Minneapolis school board and I are committed to using our community’s collective strengths to find the best superintendent possible. So let’s move forward together.
Jenny Arneson; chair, Minneapolis Board of Education
CLEAN POWER PLAN
Here’s the impact of the Supreme Court’s action
This week, the Supreme Court ordered a stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. But before the coal industry and its political allies start to celebrate, let’s consider what this could mean for the health of all U.S. citizens. First, coal plants are the number one emitter of CO2 and pollutants, which translates into more asthma, cardiovascular disease, heat stress, and vector-borne illnesses like Lyme disease and dengue fever. These are preventable impacts that disproportionately affect children and the elderly. The health care costs are enormous.
If the coal industry were required to build these costs into our electric rates, we would be looking at an additional 17 cents per kilowatt hour, according to a 2011 study by Harvard Medical School and Public Health. The well-worn and outdated argument that electricity from coal is cheaper than renewables needs to be retired once and for all. The public no longer wants to go back to rotary-dial phones, and it no longer wants to continue paying for breathing polluted air.
Dr. Michael Menzel, Edina
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A Washington Post editorial reprinted in the Star Tribune (“Clean Power Plan: Divining the high court’s thinking,” Feb. 12) engages in a “what were they thinking” exercise vis a vis the Supremes’ decision to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). This “temporary” stay of CPP implementation amounts at best to years of delay as cases drag through the court system and at worst a fatal blow, since the possible election of a GOP president could ashcan the whole thing. Meanwhile, the destruction of our planetary environment continues apace. So we don’t know what they were thinking — we only know that this decision will qualify five justices for entry to the ranks of those whose grasp after profit at any cost, whose shortsighted unconcern for an imperiled future, and whose “just don’t give a darn” attitude or basic ignorance threaten the lives and well-being of those generations that will follow us.
Bruce D. Snyder, Mendota Heights
No! You made the choice to have a kid, so you bear the burden
In response to the Feb. 10 article about Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to provide six weeks of taxpayer-funded paid leave for state-employed new parents (“Dayton promotes parental leave plan”), I say emphatically: No. This financial burden should not be on the shoulders of Minnesota taxpayers. The decision to expand one’s family is a choice, and making that choice should entail the financial implications that go with it. I’d like to see Dayton propose something that teaches people to fish instead of giving them the fish at taxpayers’ expense. The governor should propose a requirement that schools must require a class in basic finance that teaches students the benefits of saving and budgeting, so in adulthood, people can save for and afford to take time off for things like maternity leave.
Taxpayers should not be on the hook for paying for maternity leave for state employees (who often earn more than private-sector counterparts), nor should Dayton or government in general require private-sector employers to pay for maternity leave for their employees, as was alluded to in the article as a next step. Private-sector employers should get to make that choice. It should not be a mandate imposed upon them by government.
Dan Stuessi, Excelsior
REPUBLICANS AND RACE
Don’t buy state GOP’s hype: party blocks minority voters
The Feb. 10 commentary “Don’t buy the hype: Republicans indeed have a diverse party,” written by a Minnesota Republican functionary, alleged that African-Americans, Americans of Hispanic descent and other minority groups have been ill-rewarded for their past loyal support of Democratic candidates and invited those voters to select from the Republican smorgasbord of presidential candidates this year.
In appealing for their votes, the Republican salesman seems to think that these voters are unaware of the deliberate and concerted effort by the Republican Party across the nation to intentionally discourage minority-group voter turnout by passing laws designed to make registering and voting needlessly expensive and difficult.
Don’t take my word for it. These un-American activities conducted by and for the GOP are convincingly and thoroughly documented by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, and reported in detail by Jim Ruthenberg in the New York Times Magazine of July 29, 2015: “A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act,” and Dec. 17, 2015, “The New Attack on Hispanic Voting Rights.”
Oliver Steinberg, St. Paul