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Here we go again. It seems that when our state’s founding fathers called for “a uniform system of public schools,” they failed to make it clear that they meant it to be the most amazing system ever created (“Quality schools a constitutional right?” Jan. 8). Well, no wonder our kids are failing today! But all we have to do, some think, is demand “quality” and hold (whom?) responsible and subject to litigation — the state’s Department of Education? District administrators? Teachers?

This retired classroom teacher, middle-school-age writing specialist and author of a teacher’s guide to writing instruction is weary of hearing community movers and shakers, do-good organizations and politicians decry the state of our education system and label its failures as “unacceptable.”

Of course it’s unacceptable! It’s also unacceptable that African-Americans, as well as other groups, are dying at a high rate from gun violence, but no one is proposing that we gussy-up our legal language to emphasize that now we’re really serious, by God.

No, teachers know why they are failing, but we hardly ever hear from them. If we bothered to ask them what they think, we would discover that many of them do not credit their pre-service training institutions for preparing them properly. We would hear how hard it is to deal with student discipline and how they struggle to bring kids with below-grade-level skills up to speed. We would find out that elementary teachers are not adequately prepared to teach all of the many subjects they’re responsible for.

I look forward to the day when administrators and teacher-training institutions finally accept the fact that our abandonment of phonics instruction in the late ’60s has caught up with us; it’s why so many of our kids can’t read. We also must return to formal writing instruction; we can’t write without thinking. The humanities used to be a valuable component of a well-rounded education; let’s renew focus on the arts, history, government and philosophy. In the end, it’s not that complicated: We don’t need the suits in think tanks; we need to teach kids to think.

STEVE FORD, St. Paul

REFUGEES

Counties can determine whether they have the resources to help

So sad that progressives are shaming Beltrami County leaders voting to pass on accepting additional refugees at this time (“Of refugees, open doors: The context,” editorial, Jan. 10). They made a good-faith assessment of their ability to adequately provide for any influx and listened to their citizens in making the best sound decision for them.

Not every county is equipped to adequately meet all the needs of refugees: jobs, housing, schools, transportation, medical facilities, law enforcement, etc. The Editorial Board admits that each refugee will cost an average $64,370 over their first five years, and that refugees are more likely to be working but still require welfare and food support even when employed, challenging counties, our state and nation with their needs. Admittedly, they help fill our employment needs and add tax payments, but they would be best be placed where they are needed, welcomed and adequately provided for. No shame in that!

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis

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Portions of the Red Lake and Leech Lake Reservations are located in Beltrami County. It would be interesting to know what the members of those tribes who reside in the county think about the European immigrants who settled there over the past 300 years.

Mariana Shulstad, Minneapolis

ENVIRONMENT

Deregulation means degradation

After my first reading of “Environmental reviews in flux” (Jan. 10), it appears President Donald Trump is again denying that climate change is at least partly driven by man-made pollution and is pushing aside the fact-based warnings offered by scientists around the world. By desiring to eliminate environmental reviews of “major energy and infrastructure projects,” he seems to be slapping the faces of all those who have attempted to abide by the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, which has served the country well in ensuring that the impacts of bridge, highway, pipeline and power plant construction are studied and made public before the projects start. It also appears that the president is once again bowing to his oil and gas industry buddies with little regard to the damage that will certainly be caused to land, water and air as a result, and that he is concerned more with the saving of time than with the protection of the only planet we can call home.

Upon a second reading, my first thoughts were confirmed.

Loren Brabec, Braham, Minn.

NEWS BIAS

Republicans breaking with Trump is indeed news — it happens so rarely

A Jan. 10 letter alleges bias because the Star Tribune “buried” the story of half a dozen Democrats who disagreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s holding the articles of impeachment, while giving front-page treatment to the two Republicans who broke ranks on President Donald Trump’s Iranian adventure (“What term do the Dems get, then?”). Putting aside that getting Democrats to 100% agree on anything is akin to herding cats, the fact that even two Republicans are finally opposing this president is definitely important, front-page news. Given their lock-step support of almost entirely all of (no matter how shortsighted, ill-considered, sometimes evil and often just flat-out wrong) Trump’s actions, the fact that he may have finally, at long last, gone a bridge too far — that’s front-page stuff. Or to use another animal analogy: Dog bites man: not news. Man bites dog: news.

Bruce Hughes, Brooklyn Park

ENBRIDGE LINE 3

Enough stalling. Let’s build it.

After four years of regulatory and permitting review — including 66 public meetings (yes, you read that right) — and a final environmental impact statement running more than 13,500 pages long — enough is enough! It’s time to start the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project.

An independent administrative law judge made this judgment, and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the project. Furthermore, on Dec. 9 of last year, the state’s Department of Commerce found no significant impact on Lake Superior should a leak ever occur.

The current pipeline, built in the 1960s, needs to be modernized. The Line 3 replacement will continue to carry the vital energy supplies Minnesotans rely on in the most environmentally sound manner. And, it will bring high-paying union jobs and additional revenue to communities across the state and landowners who’ve already signed up for the project.

We supporters have maintained all along that the replacement pipeline is safe, and state regulators have agreed time and time again. The Public Utilities Commission, which initially approved in June 2018, must now sign off on the latest environmental impact statement before reissuing a certificate of need and route permit.

It’s time to stop delaying and get to modernizing Minnesota’s critical energy infrastructure — before it’s too late.

Chris Ventura, Columbus, Ohio

The writer is the Minnesota state director at Consumer Energy Alliance.

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