How did you get to where you are today? Chances are you have at least one great teacher to thank for your success. Someone nurtured you and encouraged you, and as a result, you are now a proud, engaged and intelligent citizen. This is exactly our goal as teachers — to help and inspire our students to become the very best they can be. As Minnesota Teacher of the Year finalists and winners, we know all too well that our success, and thereby our students’ success, is dependent upon financial support — something that is too often lacking.
In the midst of Teacher Appreciation Week, we are feeling unsupported by our own legislators. There is clearly money available to invest in education, with a state surplus of $1.9 billion, yet the general funding amount agreed upon in the House is even less than the current rate of inflation. The proposal for an increase of 0.6 percent to 1 percent in the funding formula is a far cry from the increase in costs our schools see each year. (Local school officials say it’s more than 6 percent over two years.) Education is the only part of Minnesota’s budget that is mandated in our state Constitution. Mandated, but not fully funded. In addition, the funding structure needs to be reexamined to ensure that districts are not disadvantaged based on geographical or socioeconomic circumstances.
Legislators, we need you to do better. We want our students to thrive, and we need to give them full support to do so. What will happen if you fail to provide this needed funding? Our schools will cut mental health counselors, who are so gravely needed right now. Teachers will be cut and class sizes will increase, meaning students will get less individual attention. Successful after-school and study-hall programs will be cut, so students will receive less help when they are struggling. Why not place a sure bet on our state’s future by putting money where we really need it?
Thank you for your service to our state. We are counting on you to do the right thing for Minnesota’s students.
This letter was signed by Tom Rademacher, 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year; by Amy Hewett-Olatunde, 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, and by 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year finalists Erik Brandt, Melinda Christianson, Stephen Dombrosk, Lanka Liyanapathiranage, Kathryn Oberg, Ann St. Clair, Terrence Price, Rachel Steil and Meggie Trenda.
Is it like ‘taking’ land, or more like assigning responsibility?
A May 6 letter writer could not have had it more wrong on who owes whom for the installation of buffer strips. His analogy to a government taking for roads, for which compensation is paid, is not only irrelevant but misleading. The buffer strips are intended in large part to stop the runoff from farms — of soil, of pesticides and of excess fertilizer. These are social and financial costs that farmers are offloading to the public. They take the form of spoiled rivers and lakes, no-swimming and no-fishing zones, and pollution cleanup costs (real tax dollars). Arguably, farmers could be charged for these imposed costs on the average citizen. The least they can do is to embrace Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal for the buffer strips.
Robert Lyman, Minneapolis
• • •
As a property owner, I am required to own and maintain a wastewater removal system on my property, and I am assessed for wastewater treatment. If improvements are made to the wastewater or rainwater runoff infrastructure adjacent to or near my property, I am either assessed or taxed. I don’t agree with the opinion that land for runoff buffers will be in fact taken from farmers who border on the Minnesota River. I see that part of the farmers’ property necessarily being employed to treat water that the farmer has polluted. That is the farmers’ “assessment” for runoff water treatment. Perhaps that cost eventually will be passed on to consumers, but so be it.
David Craig Smith, Minneapolis
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
U should not back down regarding controversial poster
I believe that most Americans treasure our right to the freedom of speech. Many have died defending it and our other inalienable rights. The University of Minnesota should not back down on its decision to allow a poster that reproduces a controversial illustration of the prophet Mohammed from the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo (“U poster sets off speech debate,” May 6).
I was quite taken aback some years ago by a photo by Andres Serrano of a plastic Jesus submerged in the “artist’s” urine. Jesus has been depicted as a gay man — why not? Freedom of expression is frequently exercised in the arts and media. The Walker Art Center is one of my favorite museums, and I’m occasionally repulsed by certain works it exhibits. Many of us aren’t proponents of “shock art,” yet we in no way condone censorship.
Part of assimilating into American culture is to understand just how sacrosanct we hold these freedoms. We cannot give one religion a pass on this and continue to allow censorship for a special group. Those who feel different should move to a country with strong government censorship.
Linda Benzinger, Minneapolis
Policy on suspect descriptions probably ought to be revisited
A rape on the campus of the University of Minnesota (“Dorm-room rape leaves U on edge,” May 6). The description of the two males who raped this girl at knife point, threatening her life, is that they are “two males between the ages of 18 and 21.” That should make finding them on the college campus fairly easy. I think there needs to be further discussion on this subject.
Joe Zahner, St. Louis Park
A whole lot of hissing going on
This isss written on behalf of North America’s numerous rattlesnakes. We found Steve Sack’s May 6 editorial cartoon (“Texas Poke-A-Rattlesnake Contest,” about the art show shooting in Garland, Texas) incredibly offensive.
When isss the lassst time two of us traveled hundreds of miles, armed and armored ourselves, then attempted to attack some offensive humans?
When isss the lassst time our kind attacked others, specifically because they did not have rattles? Or were vegetarians?
When isss the lassst time we went off to some other state or country to strike against others?
Come on, Sssteve. You can do better.
Bruce Blumenthal, St. Louis Park
SUNDAY STAR TRIBUNE
Get your history fix here
I confess that when reading the Sunday edition of the paper with so many sections, it is easy to skip over something titled “Minnesota History.” But the articles by Curt Brown have been a “must-read” for me. Suddenly Minnesota history is alive and relevant. Thank you for including this feature in the Minnesota section, and I strongly urge those of you who have not read it to try — just once. If you’re like me you’ll be hooked!
Scott Swinney, Minneapolis