Despite mentioning dual-immersion education in the Star Tribune’s recent article, “How Minneapolis might reshape its school district” (Feb. 9), absent is discussion of the effect the changes would have on Hispanic students, who have a graduation rate of 67%, slightly lower than that of African-Americans. The closure of Windom Dual Spanish Immersion would be counter to the stated objectives of the Minneapolis Public Schools Comprehensive District Design (CDD).
While the benefits of my own child learning in another language have always been obvious to me, I now understand that Hispanic students are more successful when they learn in their native language while achieving proficiency in English — i.e., Hispanic students do better in dual-immersion schools than in English-only schools. Not surprisingly, the performance of Hispanic students at Windom significantly surpasses that of Hispanic students throughout MPS. This is why I am baffled that the CDD could end the program at Windom, when it is fulfilling the stated objectives of integration and closure of the achievement gap. The CDD proposals could move dual-immersion seats out of south Minneapolis and thus place an undue burden on Hispanic families, given that the largest concentration of Hispanic students live in south central Minneapolis.
Not only does dual-immersion education work, but it works phenomenally well at Windom. The culture and community built there by an outstanding principal and staff are irreplaceable. It is not just language-learning that children at Windom share: Appreciation for those from other cultures is built into the fabric of Windom. This rich appreciation is the root of tolerance and cooperation and success for all of our children.
Ann Settgast, Minneapolis
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I have to comment on the hypocrisy demonstrated by Minnesota’s business community as detailed in Tuesday’s Star Tribune. On the front page, it is reported that the Minnesota Business Partnership, “a collection of leaders of some the state’s biggest businesses,” is partnering with Our Children MN to throw support behind a constitutional amendment that would guarantee all children the fundamental right to a quality public education (“Schools focus of push at Capitol”). But then on the front page of the Business section is an article about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “a group that represents the interests of most of Minnesota’s major businesses,” in which it is noted that President Donald Trump’s tax cut of the corporate rate from 35% to 21% will keep the business community “on board with the president” (“A House, Senate divided”).
So who is going to pay for this guaranteed quality education? Evidently not the business community, which laments daily about the lack of educated, qualified job applicants. My property taxes, which pay for city, county and school services, has no limit as to what I am expected to pay, unlike the corporate tax rate. Nor do I benefit from all the tax loopholes businesses receive.
Businesses need to back their call for quality education with dollars. If they are not willing to ante up, then they need to shut up.
Pauline Schottmuller, Newport
Assigning blame is tricky, too
I’m old enough to have youngsters consider replying to my proclamations with “OK, boomer.” For years, I’ve watched star-struck forecasts of the adoption rate of various new technologies, especially radical new technologies, fall short. Self-driving cars are a perfect example. The Feb. 11 commentary “Can morally ethical self-driving cars exist?” is a question well worth asking.
But there is another profound question about self-driving cars that is also well worth asking. I have not seen it discussed: What about liability? I know enough about the law to know that “acts of god” can influence judgments in civil suits where people have been killed or severely injured in car accidents. Such a finding reduces liability. A driver can thus defend their behavior by asserting an “accident” is merely “an accident.”
Self-driving cars must rely on sophisticated computer programs to avoid accidents. Computer programs are designed by humans. Now, computer-programming humans are delving deeply into all kinds of accident scenarios to avoid them. What happens when there are thousands of self-driving cars and thus more rare accident scenarios that were not anticipated in the computer program? Simply: A good lawyer will sue not only the car company but the designers of the computer program that controlled the car for failing to foresee the circumstance. Would not such liability concerns and large monetary judgments also slow down adoption of self-driving car technology?
Paul Stolen, Fosston, Minn.
Reassignment, not punishment
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was a member of the National Security Council when he testified against President Donald Trump in the House impeachment investigation. His twin brother, Yevgeny, also a lieutenant colonel, is an attorney who also worked on the National Security Council. He was part of the NSC unit working on giving clearance to the recent book by Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton.
The Vindmans were recently transferred out of their positions with the NSC (“Trump’s shameful firing of Vindman,” editorial, Feb. 11). Opposition politicians, along with the opposition press, are calling it an illegal firing. I’m sure criticism will endure and grow.
Let’s stipulate that Trump’s comments about the transfer were predictably unfiltered and ham-handed, but “so what” in terms of legalities. The president was authorized to transfer the Vindmans out of the White House. In any organization, they couldn’t effectively perform their duties given the context of the situation. It was a practical, fully justified, human-resources move.
And the Vindmans weren’t fired. Alexander Vindman will enroll in the U.S. Army War College, a highly sought-after opportunity. Yevgeny Vindman will transfer to the Pentagon to work in the U.S. Army’s Office of General Counsel.
The Vindmans aren’t being punished. They’ll be just fine.
Steve Bakke, Edina
Process matters as much as results
Last night, I listened to the governor of New Hampshire explain on a talk show why he supported President Donald Trump. Like so many other of today’s Trump supporters, it’s the results that he’s focused on, because in the end that’s all that counts. Really?
Implicit in that argument is that the ends (“results”) justify the means. If that’s true, then ethics don’t matter. How we treat vulnerable people (like migrants and refugees) doesn’t matter, because all we care about is results. That’s exactly how dictators rise to power. Democracy is only a means to the results we want. If all we care about is the results, then we don’t care about democracy.
Gregory Olson, Eden Prairie
Hope those guidelines don’t pass
I’m walking down a street in Ramsey County and pass “Book Library,” “Fun Park,” “Wet Community Pool,” “Friendly Police Station,” “Food Restaurant” and “Vroom Vroom Auto Repair.” Puzzled by these names, I gain clarity after reading “Ramsey County mulls new naming guidelines” (Feb. 11).
Jill Thomas, Plymouth
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