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My husband and I were thrilled to read the New York Times article reprinted on Sunday's front page, "New centrism takes hold in Washington."

Finally, a well-researched, professionally written article about the realities of politics in America. We, and many of our friends, are independent voters, and yet most American media outlets discount us every time they write about politics. We tend to be more centrist on many issues, so we aren't "glamorous" (or scandalous) to report on. However, if you dig into the facts across America, we are often broken into thirds: 30-40% Democratic, 30-40% independent and 30-40% Republican. Neither major party wins elections without us.

This excellent article was written by someone who recognizes the real America and the plusses and minuses that have been taking place politically since 2016. We, the people, need more reporting like this article. We need the tabloid rhetoric to be toned down so that we can go sensibly into the fall election. We need more well-researched facts like those in this article and less sensational statements made to cause fear or anger in the reader. Bravo to the Star Tribune for including this article.

Nancy Lanthier Carroll, Roseville


The debasement parade

Regarding former President Donald Trump's hush-money trial: The moment that stands out to me is not Stormy Daniels or Michael Cohen testifying or Trump falling asleep. The take away for me is the image of various MAGA congressmen dressed up like Daddy outside the court.

Pat Proft, Minnetonka


Equity isn't a pejorative

I believe that our school board representatives all have the same goals: We want each of our children to succeed in school; we want them to excel in math, science, English and reading. We want them to develop into fabulous adults of agency and compassion who will love their neighbors, contribute to a just society and make our world safe for everyone.

Our boards will succeed if they remember that equity isn't a dirty word. Equity is the process of lowering barriers to student success, and we've been doing equity work in our schools far longer than the word has been used pejoratively.

Talented and gifted students can struggle if they aren't met where they are; the programs that give them extra areas of study are equity work.

Giving specialized help to students with learning disabilities is equity work.

Poverty and hunger are barriers to student success. Minnesota now feeds all the kids in public schools; that's equity work.

Mental health struggles are barriers to academic success. Everything we do to address that is equity work.

Equity work that touches upon things like race and gender is uncomfortable for some, but we've learned from our history to lean into that discomfort anyway because we can't achieve equality without equity work. If our school boards would remember this, that would be one more barrier lowered.

Chris McArdle, Anoka


It's been suggested that we look at standardized test results of children of color compared to those of white children to see how the education system is failing the former.

I spent a bit of time tutoring third-graders in reading in a Minneapolis school and found very competent and caring teachers. I found many children reading below grade level and one boy so far behind that I feared he would never catch up. I asked a teacher about this and was told that half or more of the children in her class were homeless.

My wife has spent a great deal of time volunteering with the Assistance League of Minneapolis/St. Paul providing uniforms for children at some schools. The uniforms were distributed before class in the morning. Running late in fitting the kids was a big issue, as their main concern was being too late to get breakfast.

I suggest that the gap in test scores is not a school problem but a social failure. These children are not stupid. They are dealing with some very basic problems. If problems with discrimination and poverty in communities of color, especially Black communities, are dealt with, you will see these children blossom. It is not a school problem, it is our problem — all of us. We cannot ignore it and risk the future the loss of their potential. These children are part of Minnesota's future and cannot be ignored.

If you wish for more insight into the problems poor people face, I recommend Matthew Desmond's book, "Poverty, by America." It's a real eye-opener.

Theodore Nagel, Minneapolis


One last round of applause

The fine tribute to Spider John Koerner by Chris Riemenschneider and Jon Bream ("The man who mentored Bob Dylan," May 19) reminded me of attending the exuberant concert "Running, Jumping, Standing Still" at the Ralph Rapson-designed Guthrie Theater, presented by the Walker on Aug. 24, 1969. I was 19 and a student at the Minneapolis School of Art (now known as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design), and this music had a positive influence on my own creativity. The musicians clearly inspired not only other musicians but I imagine other visual artists and designers like me as well.

Some years ago I saw someone I thought was Spider John Koerner at La Guardia Airport and, excusing myself, asked if that's who he was. He said he was, and I said I just wanted to thank him for that concert. We chatted briefly and went our separate ways.

Patrick Redmond, St. Paul


A gentle and kind soul was Spider John Koerner. A man of few words with a jovial voice that thundered while seated on a stool with his 12-string guitar. His feet moved in rhythm, as did his thumb like a drum. Spider John was a tall and lean one-man music machine, who performed songs long forgotten if not for him. His subtle wit was infectious and regretfully unforgettable, like the story he told of the farmer holding a pig up to an apple tree. A neighbor comes by and asks, "What are you doing?" The farmer replies, "Feeding my pig." "Doesn't that take a long time feeding your pig one apple at a time?" the neighbor asks. "What's time to a pig?" the farmer replies.

And when it came to time, Spider John always had time for others. While shopping a few years back at the Seward Community Co-op with my son Jake, we bumped into Koerner. He immediately gravitated toward young Jake. He focused his attention on Jake's celestial curiosity by inviting him over to his home to gaze through the lenses of his many telescopes and up into the heavens, where Spider John is now weaving his spell. John Koerner gave Charlie Parr his 12-string guitar before passing. Thankfully, with a blues, rags, and holler, John's wakan will be carried on into the hands of the next generation.

There was a wonderful article in honor of Spider John titled "The man who mentored Bob Dylan" last weekend. Check it out.

Larry Long, Minneapolis