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Regarding "Extremist ideology has already hijacked state's public schools" (Opinion Exchange, April 7): Katherine Kersten evokes an air of conspiracy as she expresses alarm over the Minnesota Department of Education's social studies standards. The standards are "littered with these buzzwords." Those words she cites are "decolonization," "settler-colonialism," "dispossession" and "resistance." This sort of emoting is nothing new for Kersten. She wrote a piece for the Star Tribune in December 2009 expressing her horror that the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development was preaching that race, class and gender politics should "become the 'over-arching framework' of all teacher education courses."

Well, the imprecise and nuanced nature of language does afford Kersten her particular spin on these words. But what alternative language is she proposing? Is she suggesting that Minnesota should go the way of Florida, with its "Don't say gay" law? Or ban content? Furthermore, Kersten doesn't seem to respect the openness and curiosity of young minds. She apparently believes these young minds can be so easily indoctrinated by philosophies contrary to her own. Instinct tells me that most of our philosophies about anything — race, politics, science, etc. — are molded primarily outside the classroom, in families and social circles, news media.

Then there's the matter of Kersten's worry that the standards might "convert public schools into boot camps for political activism." That's a curious comment from a person who is a senior fellow at an organization that lobbies at the capitol. Lobbying fits my definition of a "political activist." And besides, don't we want our citizens to become political activists? I believe we label that system of government a "democracy."

Finally, Kersten laments the politics of the committee members who are tasked with revising these standards. In fairness to Kersten, I'll withhold judgment on her comments. I hope a spokesperson from the Department of Education will offer a response to her concerns.

Richard Masur, Minneapolis


I appreciated the direct and revealing column from Katherine Kersten regarding the revised social studies standards from the Minnesota Department of Education.

Last year I read the draft of the standards and, like many others, provided feedback on them. Doubtful mine or other comments were incorporated, since it went against what was proposed by the far left.

I further felt the standards were more about making a political statement than a real education for our kids. While the wording was designed to make these new standards seem benign, looking closely you can see they were based around an ideology and narrative.

Sadly, while the statewide scores for students continue to wallow in mediocrity, the focus from MDE under this administration is now on politics.

Perhaps MDE should be renamed. I would suggest it be changed to MDP (Minnesota Department of Politics) or MDI (Minnesota Department of Ideology).

Despite continuing increased funding, it continues to fail our children. When you have a majority of students failing to meet the standards set, yet have high graduation rates, this would seem to indicate it is pushing students into life ill-prepared, which then creates additional problems.

If MDE would focus on educating our kids rather than indoctrinating them, the kids would have a better chance of success in life.

Dale Probasco, Backus, Minn.


A good education requires students of all ages (including the readers of the Star Tribune) to think critically about the information presented and to distinguish between fact and opinion. The author of Sunday's commentary piece is a founder of the Center of the American Experiment, a Minnesota-based think tank that advocates for conservative and free-market principles. She's entitled to her opinion and her own "extremist ideology," but I hope your readers will hold up her statements about settler colonialism with the historical facts presented by historians such as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Ilan Pappé.

The new Minnesota social studies standards (based on the author's description) sound aligned with historical facts.

Lora Lucero, Minneapolis


Exclude these energy guzzlers

A pair of bills in the state Legislature subsidize data centers by giving them a sales tax break (SF 4983/HF 4929).

On their face, these bills serve a beneficial purpose, keeping Minnesota competitive among other states for new cloud and e-commerce "data centers."

The bills define "data center" only in terms of construction and contents (computers, cooling systems, security systems) but not purpose. Cryptocurrency mines will qualify, and I think it is bad public policy to subsidize things like Bitcoin and NFT creation.

The energy and "e-waste" (e.g., used-up circuit boards) costs are large. We have better uses for renewable energy and the strategic minerals (copper, nickel, cobalt, etc.) needed for renewable energy transition.

The bills (currently in the chambers' tax committees) should be amended to exclude purposes that prevent Minnesota from achieving our clean energy goals.

Steve Chesney, Brooklyn Park


All a matter of perspective

I mind seeing the word "tragedy" used to describe one family's experience of losing their home to a fire for two reasons ("A triumph out of tragedy," April 7). Many years ago, a fire took our house down to the studs, and we still gratefully recall the fire captain calling it a "friendly fire" because no one (including our four children under 7 and a little friend who were at home with me that afternoon) was injured or died in the blaze. We couldn't have agreed more. Having house insurance and support to temporarily relocate while rebuilding after a fire does not rise to the level of a tragedy in my world.

A second reason the word "tragedy" seems misplaced in this story is because, while the disruption is very real, it pales in comparison to the experience that millions of individuals and families are having daily as their homes are blown up or blown away, and are experiencing this as I write. People around the globe are torn from their homes because of wars or climate-related disasters.

Please, let's expand our awareness of the deep suffering happening all around us. It can aid in helping us keep our own experiences in perspective.

Beth Rademacher, Minneapolis


Put the darn ball in play

Patrick Reusse is right to be cranky about the Twins offense ("With too few swings, Twins still reign as strikeout kings," April 7). Yes, the pitch clock and other changes help move the game along, but what fans really want to see is action on the bases. I love the game, and even I think it's incredibly boring to watch walks, whiffs and an occasional home run. I'd rather see runs scored on a mix of bloops and steals than wait for the random blast. It's time Twins management realize that sports fans today, especially younger ones, expect action and entertainment. Baseball overall should consider incentives for players to hit for contact rather than hit for long drives (while watching hittable pitches go to waste). Tell the statisticians to think for the greater good and make the game fun for fans again. And for the love — and profitability — of the game.

Pamela J. Snopl, Minneapolis