The Star Tribune’s Sept. 23 editorial (“It’s critical to test Minnesota students”) briefly mentions excessive testing beyond the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments but fails to accurately describe the significance of that in parents’ decisions to opt kids out. I am a public school teacher in Minneapolis. I see the effect of over-testing firsthand.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board argues for the importance of the MCAs as a teaching tool. Should kids take annual reading and math tests? Sure. I don’t encourage opting out, for a variety of reasons — most notably that the school essentially gets punished for opt-outs. I want my kids to take the MCAs. Do they need to take a four-day reading test and a four-day math test every year, in addition to Formative Assessment System for Teachers tests throughout the year, and multiple days of test prep? No!
You want to bring down opt-outs? Streamline the process. Ax the extra tests, cut the MCAs in half, and watch opt-outs plummet. Parents aren’t fed up with testing overall, they’re fed up with the amount of testing.
Ryan Olson, Minneapolis
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With all the discussion over school testing and opting out (“More Minn. students skip state tests,” Sept. 15), I wonder: Is a for-profit company with one-size-fits-all-Minnesotans tests really able to determine the skills and abilities of our students?
I believe the time has come to bring our testing “home.” The Minnesota Department of Education and local school districts are responsible for our schools. Teachers and others have the skills to collaborate to create appropriate tests that apply to the curricula of the schools.
Time to test to the teaching, not teach to the tests!
Betty Wentworth, Minnetonka
I, too, wish the hullabaloo over climate were mere ‘indoctrination’
To the Sept. 24 letter writer who rather snarkily referred to the student climate strike at the Capitol as “fun,” called climate science “indoctrination” by media, schools and parents, and who challenged the students to return in 12 years to see that climate change is “folly,” I have to say — I sympathize.
My mind rebels against the enormity of what the scientific evidence clearly indicates: that the spike in global warming and ice cap melt, of extreme weather, of drought and flooding, cannot be accounted for by natural change. I want to believe that the science must be wrong, that it must be a conspiracy, playing on the naiveté of youth. I would give anything to be able to turn away from the horrifying predictions of mass extinction, to laugh at the Chicken Littles claiming the sky is falling. I understand the impulse to deny. I would love nothing more than to shake my head, ruefully smile at that naiveté, and get a good night’s sleep.
But the science is sound, the evidence is clear, and the clock is ticking. We have squandered the last 40 years of knowing this was coming — that has been the price of an inclination to denial that, while human, is no longer acceptable. The sky is falling, and our children will not be sympathetic to our natural impulse to look at the evidence and reject it because it is too enormous to take in.
In 12 years, those students won’t have to return to the Capitol — they will occupy it. We need to listen to them now, to overcome the understandable but no-longer-acceptable denial that is bringing our home to the brink of disaster.
M.J. Gilbert, Minneapolis
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A letter published Sept. 24 claims that parents of young climate strikers “frighten their children with this folly that the earth is going to end in 12 years.” In fact, no climate scientist makes such a claim, and I suspect very few parents would. The oft-cited 12-year window comes from a 2018 United Nations climate change report that warns simply that we must act within that time frame to reduce the worst impacts of droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty.
When Americans exaggerate climate concerns in order to discount them, we all lose. When we act with the rest of the world to reduce human suffering, we all win.
Jim Crider, Plymouth
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After watching Greta Thunberg present at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on Monday (“ ‘You have stolen my dreams,’ ” Sept. 24), I now have a radically different image of what a Viking warrior looks like.
I no longer think of someone weighing 300 pounds running around in tights, padding and a helmet. I think of a petite, 16-year-old Swedish Greta Thunberg speaking truth to power. No offense to players on the Minnesota’s football team, but her delivery packed more of a punch than any of the hits of our Vikings.
Dan Johnson, Crystal
Time for Trump to follow Franken
On Dec. 6, 2017, the Star Tribune Editorial Board called for former U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s resignation. Key reasons were that: seven people accused him of sexual misconduct, some senators had called for his resignation, Franken’s apologies were “hollow,” and “the key consideration ... must be who can best represent the people ... acting on their behalf as an effective voice in one of the world’s most powerful bodies.”
The Editorial Board correctly concluded that “there are other experienced, deserving figures in Minnesota who could advance Democratic values and positions, and without the baggage that now hampers Franken.”
Now let’s do Trump: More than 20 people accused him of sexual misconduct, and at least one has accused him of rape. About 180 members of Congress publicly support starting impeachment proceedings against him. He’s known for lying, bullying and obstructing justice, not apologizing. Regarding Ukraine, Trump potentially used his influence in a foreign country to help get re-elected.
There are other experienced, deserving figures who could advance American values and positions, and without Trump’s baggage. It’s time for our leaders in Congress to impeach, yes. It’s also time for news outlets around the nation to apply the Editorial Board’s sound logic, and call on Trump to resign.
Lindsay Turner, Minneapolis
Accept that they’re here, and help
I’m writing in response to the Washington Post article about Worthington, Minn. (“As immigrant kids fill Worthington’s schools; bus driver leads the backlash,” StarTribune.com, Sept. 23.) The article says the town “has received more unaccompanied minors per capita than almost anywhere in the country.” This puts a strain on local schools, and the article details failed efforts to pass a referendum to expand schools and services.
It is important to deal with the reality of the situation that the students are here and now need to learn English, graduate from high school and get job training. It is unfortunate that a small city like Worthington has had to bear the brunt of this expense, and it’s creating some very hateful situations: people booing a Catholic priest when he talked about immigration during a church service and a disgruntled farmer/bus driver who resents all these immigrant children on his bus and in his city, even though he’s getting paid to drive the bus.
Perhaps the state of Minnesota, nonprofits and the business community can lend a helping hand to Worthington during this difficult time. Oh, and a piece of advice for the bus driver: Some morning, go totally rogue and say “buenos dias” to one of those immigrant students and you just might get a smile from a high schooler at 7 a.m.! That should make your day!
Colette Moder, Roseville
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