Readers Write: Student test scores, environment, tariffs, pilot health

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


Closing our schools for COVID has been disastrous for African American students. In 2023, the reading performance of Black students in Minneapolis Public Schools declined even further. Shame on the teachers union and the governor, who closed and kept closed the public schools despite overwhelming evidence that neither students nor teachers were at serious risk from COVID.

In pre-COVID 2019, only 22.8% of Black third-graders in MPS were proficient on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments-III reading test (and that is not a high bar if you have seen the tests as I have). This pass rate declined a whopping 37% to 14.4% in 2021. Now the 2023 number has dropped to 12.7%, a ginormous 44% lower than before the governor closed the schools. Where is the accountability for this monstrous failure to “follow the science”?

Gregory Pulles, Edina


It is a sad time for school safety in Minnesota. Despite reassurances from Attorney General Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Peace and Police Officers Association (MPPOA) has decided to politicize school safety. Make no mistake, the MMPOA position on school resource officers is not about school safety, or even SRO safety — it’s about politics. The MPPOA would have you believe its opposition to legitimate rules of engagement imposed by the Legislature is about ambiguity and the threat of lawsuits — let me say that again — lawsuits over how officers respond to events under contract to the schools, not the safety of students and staff.

That reasoning is disingenuous at best. Is there not ambiguity in every aspect of law enforcement? Is the MPPOA going to advocate not responding to domestic dispute calls because, well, ambiguity? What about the mantra that “while others run from danger, we run toward it”? For context, over the past few years the MPPOA has made a hard-right turn in its politics, endorsing many more Republican candidates than Democrats. The group has made it clear that there should be no limits placed on it by radical liberal politicians. It does itself a disservice by picking a partisan political side. Its primary purpose should be public safety, not as interpreted by either political party but as required by the environment. If putting SROs in schools enhances school safety, pulling them out, by definition, puts students and staff at risk.

Mike Erickson, Anoka


Two headlines near each other in the Wednesday Star Tribune revealed the irony of our current failure to enact sufficient responses to the climate emergency we face today: “Aquifers signal next climate crisis” and “EPA weakens wetland rules.”

One article spotlighted the problems arising because of decades of pumping too much water for agriculture and development from beneath the earth’s surface that likely may never be replenished. I am old enough to remember reading about our ignorance regarding huge underground water aquifers, which we were quickly draining. With today’s science, we now know how bad it really is.

The other story announced that the EPA had weakened wetlands rules. Because of a recent Supreme Court ruling limiting the nature of wetlands that can be protected, the EPA no longer has the authority to safeguard smaller lakes and ponds, despite their importance to wildlife, birds and water quality. Justices boosted property rights over concerns about clean water.

Others will write about this in more scientific detail than I can, but my conclusion is that we are still foolishly squandering and polluting our future as a species by endangering life-giving water resources of today and tomorrow.

Laura Haule, Minneapolis


In Greece, where 73,000 hectares have burned, one of its many wildfires is now the largest the European Union has ever faced. Thousands of fires have burned all summer throughout Canada, where 20,000 people evacuated from a provincial capital. A wildfire on Maui took the most American lives in over a century.

In recent years, we have witnessed a smoke screen across the entire Western U.S. We have seen Australia scorched. Fires in the Amazon rainforest and the Canary Islands. Drought and heat waves everywhere, 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Siberia, bleached coral as our oceans warm and acidify. Farmers giving up on parched land, families packing up for desperate journeys. Stronger storms, major floods, melting glaciers, rising sea levels.

The frequent use of the term “unprecedented” has become, well, unprecedented.

Meanwhile, on a debate stage in Milwaukee, all eight of those campaigning for the highest office in the land rejected the notion that human behavior is causing climate change. One called climate change “a hoax.”

I suppose it eases the fear and pain for some to put on the blinders of denial. But those are not the people we need to lead in these difficult times. There are many important political issues, but if we cause much more destruction to our own world, and ultimately to human civilization, will those other issues even matter?

If we look into the eyes of our children and think of their future, what could possibly be more important?

Jeff Naylor, Minneapolis


While I admit I am not an economist, I do have a business background and common sense. In Tuesday’s paper, in the commentary “An economist’s take on Trump’s ‘ring around the collar’ idea” (Opinion Exchange), the writer makes broad-brush assumptions that do not consider real life. Let’s assume that the tariffs are on products that are also made in America. The tariff raises the price of the foreign product to the benefit of the U.S.-made product. This would encourage more purchases of the U.S.-made product and thus increase production and employment here in the U.S. — the total opposite effect that the writer suggests will happen. In addition, history proves the writer’s error. When President Donald Trump was much maligned for imposing broad tariffs on China, this did not lead to inflation. In fact, during the Trump presidency, inflation was almost nonexistent. This also does not conform to the writer’s somewhat doomsday opinion of the impact of tariffs.

Ron Wobbeking, Savage


A commentary by economist Jacqueline Brux (Aug. 29) described the multifaceted and long-term damage to the American economy that would result from Trump’s plan to place a 10% tariff on all U.S. imports.

I find it interesting that the former president used the term “ring around the collar.” Since I’m close in age to the Former Guy, I can’t help but think his brain has defaulted to the Wisk detergent commercials of the 1970s wherein the beleaguered housewife laments the “dirty ring” around the collar on her husband’s shirt. If that’s the case, I hope that this foolish plan will be whisked away in record time.

Theresa J. Lippert, St. Paul


After reading the news item in Monday’s paper about pilots’ false medical records (“Pilots suspected of false medical records”), I feel obligated to comment. While not condoning such behavior, as a retired commercial airline pilot, I would point out that pilot incapacitation does not spell doom for that flight. Crews are trained for just such scenarios and know how to handle them. The “healthy” pilot assumes control and lands the aircraft, albeit not always at the intended destination, so the affected pilot can receive medical attention as soon as possible.

Bottom line: I would rather have my airline pilot become incapacitated vs. my bus driver!

Richard Trickel, Crosslake, Minn.

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