Does integration close the achievement gap?

The Star Tribune's Sept. 18 editorial, ("Price paid for school integration stand") leads to the question: Why is the intent of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education not being followed? This ruling clearly states that segregation of children in public schools has a detrimental effect on the educational opportunities of minorities. Why is there such a large achievement gap between our minority students and their white counterparts? The answer seems obvious. English speaking and reading skills are hindered by the segregation of these students. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that math and reading scores are lower because these tests are in English. The editorial correctly stated the benefits of integration for the education of all students. If the state really wants to close the achievement gap, then schools must be integrated. At the very least, segregated schools should not receive public funding.


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Hooray for the Eden Prairie school board's decision not to sacrifice their children on the alter of diversity. They know that neighborhood schools and the "three Rs" work. They also know what forced integration and busing brought to two once-great school districts (Minneapolis and St. Paul). They have seen in their own lifetimes the utter destruction of a learning environment that even with the highest per capita student spending resulted in the lowest graduation rates in the state of Minnesota. Unlike the Star Tribune Editorial Board and progressives in education, the people in Eden Prairie are not delusional.


Lewis on wind energy

Given his bird worries, he should focus on cats

According to Jason Lewis, we must stop building wind turbines because they make noise, have flashing lights and transmission lines, might drop a shard of ice on someone standing in the middle of a field in the middle of winter, and may kill a few thousand birds ("Right here in Minnesota, a windfall of bad policy,'' Sept. 18).

So we need to mine sand to increase the amount of fracking for natural gas and extract oil from tar sand. He fails to mention any downside to these processes, such as poisoning water wells and surface water and destroying grazing land, not to mention that burning fossil fuel kills an estimated 200,000 people each year from lung disease caused by air pollution.

He also fails to mention that land owners are paid to have wind turbines on their property, and that transmission lines are required for fossil-fuel plants, too. If Lewis is so concerned about birds, perhaps his column space would be better spent lobbying against free-range cats, since domestic cats kill an estimated 1 million birds each year.



The solution is to make pot, other drugs legal

The Star Tribune's excellent and disturbing documentation of the increasing use of "designer" drugs -- often potentially fatal, or brain-damaging, chemical formulations difficult to detect in routine screening -- is surely a call to action ("Bath salts hit U.S. 'like a freight train,''' Sept. 18). The war on the global illicit drug trade costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars annually in drug surveillance and eradication schemes in Mexico, Colombia and other countries where drug cartels control governments and slaughter innocent people as well as one another.

This endless war, which legislators and enforcement agencies may have a vested financial interest in perpetuating, has helped create the new market for toxic bath salts, synthetic pot and other designer drugs because of its draconian sentencing in most states of those people in possession of a few grams of marijuana.

The moralistic, prohibitionist mentality that ultimately does more harm than good needs to evolve and be expressed in wise and compassionate public policies that regulate and tax marijuana sales, helping generate much-needed state revenues.

The decriminalization of other drug use would be a first step in undermining the illicit trade in addictive opiates, crystal meth and other potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs.



He forgot that Perry mandated the vaccine

I read Michael Gerson's Sept. 18 commentary twice but never did see his proof that attacks on vaccination against HPV represent a "moral failure," as the headline stated. I did see a lot of criticism of those who think the vaccine should not be required for 12-year-old girls. I searched online and found no support by Gerson for more comprehensive and extensive sex education for those same girls. And boys. I think the value of his article can be found in his closing statement that "it is possible that Rick Perry encouraged HPV vaccinations in the wrong way or for the wrong reasons." Perry did not encourage vaccinations -- he mandated them.


Debit-card fees

Ultimately, consumers will bear the cost

In response to the Sept. 18 story, "Banks test new debit card fees," Congress spent a great deal of time considering who should benefit from a reduction in debit card "swipe fees." Should the benefit go to the big-box retailers that accept the cards, or to the megabanks that issue the cards? It appears that Congress should have spent more time considering who would not benefit from the new financial reform mandate and who would ultimately pay the price for the change -- the customers of both.


The writer is president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota.