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I read with tears of joy St. Cloud Apollo High School swimming coach Alex Badger’s trailblazing measures to build bridges between Muslim students, their peers and their families (“Somali girls making a splash,” Oct. 10). Badger could have posted “All students welcome on the swim team” posters in school halls. But instead she offered free swimming lessons, picking up students who needed a ride, and procured a waiver from the Minnesota State High School League in support of alternative full-body swimsuits; commendations go to non-Muslim team members who traded their usual suits for mostly black ones that matched. How heartening to read of leaders who bring us together instead of pull us apart.

Jill Thomas, Plymouth

THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY

Actions on women’s health care, words on NFL both are problems

It is shocking that in the year 2017 women in this country continue to fight for our right to decide whether or when to have children. The Trump administration’s elimination of the guarantee for birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) negatively affects 62 million women (“Mandate for birth control dropped,” Oct. 7). Birth control is not controversial and should not be up for debate. Nine out of 10 women of reproductive age rely on birth control at some point during their lives to prevent pregnancy and treat medical conditions such as endometriosis or irregular periods.

The Trump administration’s action has nothing to do with protecting religious freedom; under the ACA, religious organizations already had an accommodation that ensured that employees could get coverage through other means. This rule is simply meant to take away women’s fundamental health care.

For women in Minnesota and across the United States, decisions about our reproductive health care should be made between our ourselves and our doctors — not our employers and not the president. We have a right to decide whether or when to have children, and we will not let the government and male politicians strip away this right from millions of Americans.

Laura Logsdon, St. Paul

• • •

Not that it is surprising, but President Donald Trump’s new threat to eliminate a federal tax break for the NFL (StarTribune.com, Oct. 10) is laden with inconsistency and hypocrisy, some of which involves potentially serious consequences.

The three most egregious problems with Trump’s Tuesday-morning tweet:

Trump campaigned on pledges to be pro-business and roll back regulations. Linking the tax break to conduct by NFL teams during the national anthem would amount to a form of regulation of a large business, with the removal of the break being the equivalent of a fine.

It’s troubling that the president has taken his highly visible, distracting feud with the NFL to the point of making this threat, while at the same time his administration almost surreptitiously has been enacting or proposing a range of environmental-protection deregulations and policy changes that would free business and industry to pollute more and be more environmentally destructive. Again, the hypocrisies are troubling and compounding, with the president’s almost-personal agenda posing great harm to America. His threat to the NFL not only seems anti-business, it continues his obscuring of the reason NFL players have protested during the anthem (treatment of African-Americans by police), and it brings the president very close to, if not already at, a major violation of the First Amendment’s free-speech protections and the amendment’s Establishment Clause. The government simply cannot try to use intimidation through abuse of power or financial threat to shut down free speech nor to interfere with speech or published material before it’s spoken or published. The president has every right to be peeved at the NFL, but he has no right to make such a threat.

This is the continued behavior of a demagogue, one who plays on people’s fears and easily provoked emotions while damaging what has held America together for so long, to sate his ego, to deflect attention from what seems to be, more and more, an utter unraveling of Congress’ trust in him and increasing signs of the White House’s growing dysfunction. Such sleight-of-hand, or, rather, slight-of-tweet, is not only hypocritical, it’s dangerous.

Dana Yost, Morris, Minn.

EDINA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Kersten laid out troubling facts, which her critics breezed past

The critics of Katherine Kersten’s recent article showed little concern over the facts the article presented (Readers Write, Oct. 10, responding to “Racial identity policies are ruining Edina’s fabled schools,” Oct. 7).

From the article and its longer version in Thinking Minnesota, the quarterly magazine published by the Center of the American Experiment: In 2014, 86 percent of Edina High School (EHS) students met state reading standards vs. 79 percent today. For math, the scores were 79 percent in 2014 vs. 66 percent today. This means that 1 in 5 EHS students does not read at grade level, and that 1 in 3 can’t do grade-level math.

Also, during the same span, EHS test results dropped the school’s ranking among Minnesota high schools from fifth to 29th in reading proficiency, and from 10th to 40th in math proficiency, according to Minnesota Department of Education data.

The article also described the troubling practices in the Edina elementary schools.

Amazingly, one of the Oct. 7 letter writers characterizes the article as “a classic example of how political organizations and big money today are trying to influence our local politics” and wonders if the statistics were used out of context; he also seems to imply that if Kersten and her sponsors don’t live in Edina, then its schools are beyond their purview.

Although citing no evidence that “quality education for all” exists within the Edina system, another critic states that “[f]ear of falling test scores and Edina’s academic reputation will not motivate me to turn my back on quality education for all.”

A third opines that our future depends on supporting school leadership such as it exists in Edina — even though, so it seems, its policies result in the slippage supported by the scores and rankings given in the article.

While opinions may inform, the facts in this case genuinely disturb. I hope that the concerned parents will insist on a review of the seemingly flawed educational policies and practices at Edina High School and its elementary schools.

John P. Dunlap, Fridley

• • •

Bravo for Edina High School junior Charles Heinecke’s Oct. 10 response (“To this white male, there’s no ‘culture of intimidation’ ”) to the Kersten commentary. If Heinecke’s clear, detailed and thoughtful point-by-point refutation of Kersten’s attack owes anything to his Edina school education, I’d say they are doing just fine!

Ruth Weiner, St. Paul

• • •

Kudos to the city of Edina and its public schools for taking on systemic racism head-on. Now they should continue their effort to eliminate racial inequality and discrimination and add to it something many good folks of Edina don’t want to address. I’m talking about the sordid history of virulent anti-Semitism that the city’s residents engaged in for decades. I remember when Jews were not welcome in Edina and the hate for the Jewish people was unabashed. Yes, times have changed in the Edina Public Schools, but if Edina has really changed, its citizens will own up to their not-so-proud past.

Jeff Linn, St. Louis Park