See more of the story

Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


So companies want to reduce wages for their remote workers ("Pay cut to keep working at home?" Aug. 29). Let's put this into perspective.

Companies are saving money when employees are remote. They save on office space, which is a significant cost, especially when prices were at a premium and open office space was almost nonexistent before COVID. Of course, the world has changed with people working remotely. Companies should now be able to negotiate really good prices on office space since there is much more space available because of employees working remotely.

Other cost savings include utilities (heating, cooling, electricity, lighting, water, etc.), cleaning, maintenance, desks, chairs, cubicles, phones, internet connectivity, etc. Office supplies such as pens and paper are also a cost saving since remote workers need to supply their own.

Many companies provide computers, monitors, keyboards and mice, whether the employees are in the office or remote. Some companies may reimburse for cellphones and the internet. The company I work for does not do that.

When I do not have to go into the office, I willingly give my company the time I would have spent driving to the office since that time wouldn't have benefited me anyway. Most of my co-workers have said the same. Likewise, I tend to overestimate the tiny breaks I take during the day. Go to the fridge for orange juice? Add 15 minutes. Walk out to get the mail? Another 15 minutes. In reality, it is maybe three minutes, but I tack on 30 minutes to my day because I don't want to cheat the company.

Our company was able to hire new employees who wanted to be remote but their employers were calling them back into the office. This was a dissatisfier, so they chose to find a different job. We have been able to hire more diversely because we have a larger pool of workers to choose from.

Perhaps green cards and H1B visa concerns can be a thing of the past, since you may not even need to be in the U.S. for your job.

So companies need to be very careful if they are looking to cut wages for remote employees. Companies receive many benefits from remote workers.

Now, let's talk about that four-day workweek.

Barbara Burkey, Roseville


After reading the front-page headline about employers monitoring their employee's keystrokes, all I can say is I'm glad I'm retired ("Is the boss counting your keystrokes?" Aug. 19). That may work for some data-entry type jobs, but even then there's the sinister "Big Brother is watching" element. People are not machines. If you are in a role in which you are creating a tool, a test or a written piece, this keystroke measure is inappropriate. Such creator roles demand research and time for thought, and that demands a higher level of thought than data entry.

Judy Vollmar, Hudson, Wis.


Don't underplay effect of wealth

Katherine Kersten is right that there is serious inequity in the performance of students of color (63% of white students reading at grade level vs. 36%, 37% and 29% of Black, Hispanic and American Indian students.) She is spot on in saying that educational equity will not be achieved by simply lowering the standards so that a larger percentage of students of color will be "qualified" to read at grade level ("At Minnesota State, equity's in, learning is out," Opinion Exchange, Aug. 29).

Her solution? "Minnesota State could be helping young people learn the key to success in school and life: hard work, high standards, sacrifice and self-discipline." Does she have a magic wand to wave and make that happen?

Kersten ignores the fact that statistics show that the average net worth of white families is 10 times larger than Black families. (Brookings Institution figures show white family average net worth to be $171,000 and Black families $17,150.) The effects of the wealth disparity on education are huge.

White families can afford preschool education, books and laptops at home, and a long history of academic "nurture" that spills over into the realm of academic achievement. And the effects are circular — academic achievement spills over into even more economic achievement, and more educational disparity. The status quo is promoting even more disparity.

The solution is simple. Fix the wealth and income disparity, which is causing the educational disparity, and provide early childhood education to all youngsters. More money and wealth equates to more education. More education equates to more money and wealth. Increased taxes on higher incomes and wealth to provide more educational opportunities for all, especially the poor, will provide for more equality for our children.

Douglas E. Schmidt, Excelsior


As K-12 students head back to schools fiscally supported by local, state and federal funds, it is an opportune time to raise awareness about the insufficient level of public funding spent on our youngest learners, ages birth to 5 years old.

A 2021 report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development reveals U.S. federal and state public spending averages annual investments of $1,500 per child for child care and early childhood education, $12,800 per child during each of the 13 years spent in K-12 schools, and up to $34,036 per student at higher education institutions.

Child Care Aware of America rates Minnesota as one of the most expensive locations in the U.S. for full-time center-based child care, costing families an annual average of $16,164 for infants, $14,062 for toddlers, and $12,447 for 4-year-olds. Those rates could exceed the average annual cost of housing in Minnesota and exceed annual tuition costs at state universities.

Ninety percent of brain development occurs during the first five years of children's lives as cited in research reports from the Minnesota Department of Health and Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Despite that scientific evidence, our government continues investing the least amount of educational funding into child care and early childhood education during the most critical developmental period of humans' lives.

Heading into election season, I encourage readers to vote for candidates dedicated to increasing public investments in child care and early childhood education. Investing in our youngest learners is an investment in our future leaders.

Natalie Jones, St. Louis Park


Gee, what a mystery

In the Aug. 30 Star Tribune, Kim Crockett is quoted as saying, "Even if everything is on the up-and-up, people are looking at [election results] and saying, 'I don't believe it anymore.' ... It's tearing apart families and it's tearing apart our country. It has to stop, and the only way to do that is to look at our election laws and say, 'Where are we leaking confidence?'"

No, Ms. Crockett, you are wrong. A much better way is to get Donald Trump and his followers (such as yourself) to stop lying to the country about the outcome of the last election.

John Buranen, Minneapolis


I thought I had seen the worst candidate for state office in Minnesota history in Scott Jensen — a man who railed against COVID protections for Minnesotans. A doctor himself, he joined the cadre of people who used an anti-protection agenda as a political weapon against Democrats who led the state in one of the most effective programs to keep the greatest number of Minnesotans as safe as possible.

I was wrong. Yes, he's pretty bad — but have you seen Crockett? Here's a person who wants to be secretary of state, the position responsible for elections in Minnesota, who admits to wanting to restrict Minnesotans' participation in elections. And what is it based on? Her side didn't win the 2020 election and, therefore, it was rigged. She wants to limit early voting and restrict absentee voting. Minnesotans voted against a constitutional amendment to implement a voter ID system in 2012 — she doesn't care; she'd implement her plan for exactly that.

Have Republicans gone mad? This trend of supporting extremists seems not only in conflict with one-time values of their own party but in conflict with fundamental American values. It's very sad.

Lynn Bolnick, St. Louis Park