Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.
I am compelled to respond to a Saturday letter in the Star Tribune (“Among many harebrained ideas … ” Readers Write, Aug. 26). The writer makes the absurd claim that there exists “the GOP’s voter suppression campaign, which has so far primarily been directed to Black people, other ethnic minorities and poorer people,” without of course citing a shred of evidence to support such a preposterous assertion. Apparently, such a “suppression campaign” has not been very successful, since voting records show that the percentage of votes for President Donald Trump between the 2016 election and the 2020 election actually significantly increased among Black voters, Hispanic and Latino voters, and Asian voters as well. Moreover, the letter writer ignores the fact that Trump secured permanent funding for historically Black colleges and universities, enacted criminal justice reform (advocated by Black leaders) and attracted $75 billion in private investment for Opportunity Zones in economically depressed areas. If the GOP wanted to “suppress voting by minorities,” why would it enact such policies?
If the writer is claiming that the GOP is attempting to “suppress” minority voting by advocating for voter ID, how can he then explain the fact that after Indiana enacted a voter ID requirement in 2005, voter participation in the presidential election of 2008 actually increased over the 2004 election in that state? Spewing forth absurd leftist talking points, belied by documented facts about the GOP and minority voters, obviously does not help advance reasoned political dialogue.
Mark R. Miller, Minneapolis
I don’t doubt the data that Ted Kolderie used in his recent commentary (“Why is Minnesota short on teachers?” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 27). Teacher retention is absolutely a major concern, and it does seem reasonable to suggest that autonomy, not salary, is a major reason for teacher turnover as things currently stand. Anybody who chooses to teach today goes into the profession knowing that they’re likely to receive a lower salary than their peers with similar educational attainment. They go into teaching because it’s something they’re passionate about, so it makes sense that they’re pushed out as they’re given fewer opportunities to engage those passions. Too much top-down control over what teachers do is absolutely a problem, and changing that fact could address some issues with teacher retention.
That being said, low salaries are also undeniably an impediment to teacher recruitment and retention. Lots of good teaching candidates never consider the profession because they’re unwilling to sacrifice the money they know they could make pursuing other careers. Moreover, if entering teaching no longer required knowingly compromising on salary — if teaching could bring in those candidates for whom salary is a major motivator — it would also be better positioned to retain those candidates through better salaries.
Mike Phillips, Minneapolis
The writer is a teacher.
The Saturday letter to the editor “Truly astronomical costs” comparing the cost of light rail to the Apollo 11 mission does leave out a few points. While the distance betwixt the moon and Earth is greater than the distance between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, I do not believe that there were active political opponents or residents protesting every mile (although with the release of UFO info, some residents may come to light). The Apollo mission was one of several trips that carried a few dozen citizens there and back with some bumps, delays and cancellations; that is a pretty steep fare.
The Apollo missions are important and a marvel to behold because we were part of something bigger than ourselves that would change history for generations (planting trees we will never sit under, if you will).
We barely batted an eye to build a faux Viking vessel downtown for a New Jerseyite to keep the smallest possibility of hoisting a golden calf one time. We are currently remaking our landscape for future generations. Stadiums are shrines to a few for a few moments, but roads and transportation are where we live everyday. Let’s spend accordingly.
Jose Coronado, Woodbury
I couldn’t agree more with Jerome Johnson’s take on the Blue Line Extension (“What’s transit got to do with it?” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 25). A couple more points from a Brooklyn Park resident living a few hundred yards from the planned route. First up, the Bottineau Boulevard reconstruction was recently completed after years of detours, delays and dust. To tear up a brand-new highway for this purpose reeks of fiscal irresponsibility if not utter incompetence.
Second, the numbers show that ridership is running less than half of pre-pandemic levels, and no one can predict if or when it will ever return. The park-and-ride on Bottineau and 63rd Avenue sits empty, chained off and unused. Prior to COVID it serviced only a few cars daily. Hardly high demand.
Third is the destination point near Target’s campus off Hwy. 610. Since Target no longer requires employees to come to work, the campus resembles a ghost town. There is nothing but empty fields nearby. (Better for the developers, I suppose.) A mile or so east sits another underutilized park-and-ride ramp. Perhaps a more logical destination?
Finally, the transit proponents’ claims of enhanced social and economic gains are nothing more than a utopian pipe dream. Their claims of an economic resurgence along Hiawatha Avenue are proof enough. The Met Council has wasted millions of dollars on a failed first plan and a misguided second plan. To spend hundreds of millions more for something that 5% of seven-county residents will ever use is a reckless use of public funds.
Those who use public transit would be much better served with a bus rapid transit system, as Johnson proposed. It is time to stop this project before it becomes our next billion-dollar boondoggle.
Warren Iverson, Brooklyn Park
Like Daniel Hunt (“Isn’t a university a place to learn how to defend your ideas?” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 28), I participate in the university’s old-folks program — I’ve taken about 20 classes over the last eight years. I plan to do so until I die; after that, I’ll audit.
I partially agree with Hunt’s concerns about ideas not being challenged in class. However, I don’t think that that should be the professor’s primary role. Objectivity is essential, and the best professors can end the semester without students having the vaguest idea of their professors’ personal beliefs.
However, I couldn’t agree more with Hunt’s assertion that students need to have their views challenged. Such challenges are such an important part of the college experience. They can encourage the students to rethink her ideas or even change them as they get more information.
I believe, though, that the challenges should come from the other students. A healthy debate among students might be the best thing that can happen in a class, since such debates can stimulate so much thought and discussion.
While professors should, I believe, correct students when they have their facts wrong, it is up to the students to question each other’s values and conclusions.
See you in class, Mr. Hunt!
Nic Baker, Roseville