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I'm extremely disappointed in the Star Tribune's editorial "Respond cautiously to Iran-backed attacks" (Jan. 31) that nonchalantly characterized the Iranian drone attack that killed three U.S. service members as a "mishap." It was not a "mishap," it was a deliberate attack by Iran and its proxies on the United States. The Editorial Board also failed to mention that the service members at the post were attempting to recover their drone, and the radar failed to pick up the incoming Iranian drone.

My family has a very proud history of serving, with my father being a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, my brother a U.S. Navy veteran, and my grand-uncles as U.S. Navy World War II veterans, and to downplay that three American service members were killed and several others wounded is appalling and offensive.

As a U.S. Navy and global war on terrorism veteran who has been in that region, I can assure the Editorial Board and the readers that what the Iranians did was deliberate.

On my first WESTPAC/5th fleet deployment, my ship was in the Arabian Gulf. The Iranian "navy" harassed us almost every day. They constantly circled the ship and threatened us. We had our Small Craft Action Teams comprised of multiple small arms on the ship: .50 caliber machine guns, MK-38 25-mm machine gun systems and M240s, manned constantly to defend the ship, our shipmates and ourselves. We had to stay vigilant at all times. Any complacency or inattentiveness could have resulted in casualties on board or a catastrophic incident to the ship.

For the Star Tribune Editorial Board to summarize that the U.S. "needs to tread lightly in response," for fear of retaliation from Iran or their proxies and the potential of it affecting the Gaza conflict, is preposterous and even ignorant. While we do have to serve our interests in the region and defend ourselves and our allies, the Editorial Board is mistaken; a forceful response is needed from President Joe Biden and his administration to show that we will not tolerate those actions and behavior.

Zach Doyle, Savage


Here we go again ("'Despicable' attack kills 3 Americans," front page, Jan. 29). Not too long ago, Biden declared that we will not lead by the example of power but by power of example. When he now states that "we shall respond" to the drone attack, we know what that means: military retaliation that will likely further escalate the Mideast crisis and jeopardize world peace.

It is assumed that the strike was in retaliation for U.S. backing, especially militarily, of Israel's genocidal overkill in Gaza; that includes killing children, women and medical/human rights workers. I understand the grievance.

The time is long overdue for the U.S. to seriously examine, recognize and recast policies it continues to practice that unnecessarily antagonize too many nations and groups of people.

Kai Laybourn, Bloomington


Innovation has been here all along

Innovations in chartered public schools have been here since the beginning, even if folks haven't noticed them (Readers Write, Jan. 28). I know that from personal experience.

My school, Northwest Passage Charter High School, was founded in 1999 with the mission of "Rekindling our hope, exploring our world, seeking our path, while building our community." That mission speaks to the many innovations we live out with our students every day. We provide students with a safe, supportive environment where they can be themselves. We foster positive relationships between students and staff with our small school design. We incorporate regular off-campus learning offerings and overnight learning experiences at no cost to students and families. We develop student-centered learning opportunities and build community through strong, positive relationships, community events and regular service-learning projects.

Northwest Passage, along with dozens of other Minnesota chartered public schools, has been recognized by the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools for its innovative practices. In 2017 we received the Innovative Schools Award for our overnight learning expeditions, and in 2023 for our ninth-grade cohort that focuses on supporting students in the transition to high school. Additionally, we've recently been recognized as a lab school for the Innovative Schools Network, a Hope Demonstration School, and a semifinalist for the national Building Hope Impact Award.

My school and so many other chartered public schools across the state are proud to showcase our innovative work serving our students every day.

Peter Wieczorek, Coon Rapids

The writer is school director at Northwest Passage Charter High School.


In a Jan. 28 letter, a writer stated that he has not seen any innovation from charter schools. I invite him to look again.

I offer an example from personal experience. Lakes International Language Academy (LILA) in Forest Lake opened in 2004, when fewer than 10 language-immersion schools existed in Minnesota.

Being a proud Forest Lake High School graduate, I proposed an immersion program to them. With other interested parents, I worked with the district for three years. We volunteered our time on a district-led task force to study the pros and cons. Yet, after three years of work and a positive recommendation from their own task force, the school board did not approve the initiative.

As a result, the parent group undertook the arduous task of opening a charter school. LILA has grown from 177 to nearly 1,400 students over 20 years, allowing thousands of local students to become bilingual in Spanish or Chinese. With the recent addition of grades, LILA also offers high schoolers an IB diploma, allowing them to earn college credits in high school.

We're also very proud of having influenced the broader educational landscape through our innovation. Only two years after opening, LILA's success inspired the Forest Lake district to start its own variation on immersion through a partial-immersion program.

District action based on the potential of language immersion was nonexistent until LILA paved the way. And now, their expansion allowed hundreds of additional students the opportunity to gain exposure to a second language.

Shannon Peterson, Forest Lake

The letter is a founder and current executive director at Lakes International Language Academy.


Mary Moriarty's office has it right

How many times have we asked, "What new things are being tried to stop juvenile crime?" and "Where are the parents?" — and finally, in frustration, "Why don't they just punish more people harder to knock some sense into them?" In November 2022, the voters demanded change, and now we begin to see that change happening.

A new proactive program across police and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office works with at-risk juveniles before they commit life-altering crimes, based on known previous behavior and the assent of family members. Since July 2023, the families of juveniles identified by police as likely future offenders have been proactively approached by the county attorney's office and offered services with the potential to redirect their lives to positive purposes. So far, 100% of those families have gratefully accepted the help. In many cases, these are the same services previously only available after a crime was committed.

We will not hear about the crimes not committed, lives not wasted, expensive decades of incarceration avoided and citizens not victimized due to these proactive efforts by the county attorney's office. And some will continue to loudly proclaim that "no one is doing anything about crime." But someone finally is, and we have new, cooperative and creative public servants to thank for it, supported by voters who took a chance on thoughtful change over brute force.

Rob Machalek, St. Louis Park