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Regarding “Rename Calhoun Lake Maka Ska” (editorial, Oct. 23): More research is needed about John C. Calhoun, as even the liberal John F. Kennedy, in 1957 as a U.S. senator, chaired a committee that ranked Calhoun the fifth-greatest senator of all time. Calhoun’s theories in his famous disquisitions are still revered by political scientists today as brilliant writings that can be used by liberals and conservatives with respect to nullifications of laws by states. His legacy need not be stained by renaming lakes, as it will only lead to whoever is in power deciding on what names are appropriate and what are not. Look at all the Native American names we have all over Minnesota — thousands of cities, lakes, counties, rivers. Now, I will not lose any sleep over the name of a lake in Minneapolis, but it is just silly. Yale University, cited in support for stripping Calhoun’s name from one of its residential colleges, has a bit of a problem; its founder was a big-time slave owner. But it just will never end if we keep changing names. A hundred years from now, will we be changing names for anyone who supported or for that matter opposed abortion, gay rights, animal rights, global warming?

No doubt the support of slavery will always be a hot button. But it was legal before and after the founding of our country. John Calhoun cannot be held responsible for the position he took in 1850, which was a popular though not a majority position in its time.

William G. Cottrell, Mendota Heights

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Mount McKinley is now Denali, but we still know that it’s a mountain.

Lac qui Parle doesn’t use the English word for lake, but we still know that it’s a lake.

But somehow when we use the Dakota word for lake that sounds like another French word to some, people won’t know that it’s a lake or think it sounds funny?

I question if anyone will have a hard time “finding” Bde Maka Ska, as the Oct. 23 editorial suggests, and if geographic names should be functional, let’s get those others corrected before our civilized society falls apart from the chaos this would create!

Harvey Zuckman, Minneapolis

THE ENVIRONMENT

See the dots and refuse to connect them: That’s our EPA

The Oct. 21 article “Pollution kills more than war, hunger” tells of a scientific study about how air and water pollution has a negative impact on the health of people around the world. But the article below it, “EPA scrubs climate-change links from website,” explains that many links to longitudinal scientific research and key resources have disappeared from the current administration’s Environmental Protection Agency website. This means that American citizens and policymakers do not have the critical information collected over many years to inform their thinking and policymaking related to climate change. Why this reversal related to the publishing of science research?

The following day’s editorial, “Waiting periods can reduce gun deaths,” shares that Harvard Business Research paid for and produced its own 45-year data study of how states with gun-purchase waiting periods reduced their gun homicides and suicides. This editorial goes on to state, “What’s remarkable about the Harvard study is that it exists at all. For 20 years a ban on federally funding research has suppressed reasonable, fact-based debate, allowing tribalistic hyperbole to dominate discussions.” Why ban sound, qualitative research critical to the health and safety of the public?

With our country’s current focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in many schools, teachers inspire students to use inquiry and careful research to solve important problems. As rock-star scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson writes, “Once science has been established, once a scientific truth emerges from a consensus of experiments and observations, it is the way of the world. What I’m saying is, when different experiments give you the same result, it is no longer subject to your opinion. That’s the good thing about science: It’s true whether or not you believe in it. That’s why it works.”

So, here’s my big takeaway: Science research matters — to all of us, and as Tyson also reminds us, “If you cherry-pick scientific truths to serve cultural, economic, religious or political objectives, you undermine the foundations of an informed democracy.”

Kathy Quick, Richfield

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When EPA chief Scott Pruitt prevented three EPA scientists from presenting their research on the effects of climate change on a fishing and tourist estuary in Rhode Island (Oct. 23), something certainly didn’t add up. Aren’t taxpayers getting shortchanged by not receiving this potentially useful information? It appears that, since Pruitt is a lawyer with no science background, political ideology on climate change rather than peer-reviewed science got the top priority here. Unfortunately, all the public loses out in these kinds of cases.

John Clark, Minneapolis

GENDER BIAS

Evidence shows that reluctance to lend to women is unjustified

I find it fascinating that female-owned businesses have a difficult time obtaining loans from large banks (Business, Oct. 23). From my experience in working with women in business this is, at best, counterintuitive. I have generally found that the women I have worked with were at least as reliable and responsible as the men and, in my experience, more so.

But there is no need to take my word for it. Just research the experience of Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Yunus, of the University of Chittagong, initiated the bank’s microcredit concept in 1976 as a research project, and the pilot project was authorized by the government to operate as a full-fledged bank in 1983. He and the bank won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Grameen Bank, as of January 2011, had 8.4 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom were women. The loan repayment rate at that time was 97 percent. I recall quite clearly that Yunus found in the early years that the probability of repayment was much higher with women compared with men, and the rest is history, as indicated by the data. Large and small banks would be well-advised to review their policies and their history in lending to both genders. I’m guessing that women repay as well or better than men.

John F. Hetterick, Plymouth

SUCCESS IN LEARNING

Parents’ role is key. Duly noted. But reality sets in, so then what?

Dale Vaillancourt (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 23) hit the education nail on the head when he indicated that education success or failure starts at home. He believes that “the most important determining factor in a child’s success is parental influence.”

I have been involved in public education for more than 40 years. My father had an eighth-grade education, but his lifetime goal, nay his obsession, was to make sure that his children got a good education. He did everything within his power to make sure that happened. Vaillancourt’s assessment of the role parents play in a child’s education experience is absolutely correct. However, the “klinker” in this scenario is the fact that not every parent is able to provide the preschool preparation that makes a child school-ready when he or she reaches kindergarten. The one and only solution is to establish, at the local, state and national levels, a comprehensive preschool program that enables every child in America to be ready for school on their first day in kindergarten. Until that happens, millions and millions of schoolchildren will enter their school, be they public or charter, on the first day of their education journey unprepared for what lies ahead during the next 13 years.

George Larson, Brooklyn Park