Crime, student loan forgiveness, school vouchers, teacher contract

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Scott Jensen’s “Safer Streets” campaign is dishonest (“Jensen Sees Subway Voting Potential”, August 28). Leading the Republican chorus that equates reasonable gun regulation with a threat to Second Amendment rights (despite Supreme Court rulings that those rights and gun regulation can co-exist), Jensen instead campaign for expanded gun rights.

It is an illusion to think that better access to firearms will make our streets safer. A study earlier this year found a direct correlation between the strength of state gun laws and reduced incidence of gun deaths, including homicides, suicides and accidental murders. One of the key findings of the study is that “in states where elected officials have taken action to pass gun safety laws, fewer people die from gun violence” (first reported on CNN).

The study found that five basic laws have proven most effective in reducing rates of gun violence: 1) background checks of all handgun purchases (closing the background check loophole), 2 ) a license to carry concealed weapons in public, 3) the safe storage of firearms, 4) the rejection of “Hold Yourself” laws and 5) extreme risk (“red flag”) laws that provide due process to temporarily remove a person’s access to firearms when there is evidence that they pose a serious risk to themselves or others.

Jensen and his fellow Republicans have stymied background checks and red flag laws, and are now touting “hold your ground” laws, which are associated with an 8-11% increase in monthly homicide rates (from the Journal of American Medicine in February).

“Anarchy Avenues” would be more appropriate than “Safer Streets” if Jensen and his National-Rifle-Association puppet buddies were elected. Concerns about dangerous streets should be removed from the talking points of Jensen’s campaign and Republican lawmakers.

Rich Cowles, Eagan

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Driving on Interstate 94 today, I saw the Scott Jensen/Matt Birk sign for “Safer Streets”. It reminded me of how, after reading the Star Tribune article “Theft of catalytic converters goes to the ‘burbs’ (May 1st), I wrote to my state senator to express my concern. She told me said Minnesota Senate Democrats actually introduced a bill requiring sellers to verify vehicle identification numbers when purchasing catalytic converters. To my amazement, she said Republicans in Senate had blocked any consideration of the bill. I did my due diligence and googled that. Sure enough, I found a press release from State Senator John Marty saying the same thing. My question to Jensen and Birk would be: did you approve of Republicans not allowing hearings on this bill? To Senate Republicans who blocked it, my question would be: why not compromise on a common sense approach instead of endanger the twin Citizens af in getting a few more votes?

Jim Stemper, maple wood

LOAN FORGIVENESS

A letter writer recently lamented the $10,000 student loan forgiveness program as not enough to actually help people. Um, no kidding, man – that’s not the point. The goal was never to help people with their student loans. The goal is to buy votes for the 2022 midterm elections, which is why President Joe Biden could have done so anytime after his election, but waited until an election year to do so. I sometimes find it hard to believe that others don’t see these obvious manipulations.

Dan Watts, Northfield, Minn.

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Why aren’t more people enrolled in international university programs taught in English?

Faced with the daunting challenge of taking on heavy debt for a four-year degree in this country, why wouldn’t it be worth considering attending a tuition-free university in Germany or one of the other countries where American students can study for free or at a low cost? Universities must be globally competitive. This would force American universities to deal with the high cost of education. This would make loan forgiveness questionable, as it is much more likely that students could pay as they go.

Kevin Schröder, Minneapolis

SCHOOL VOUCHERS

After reading the article titled “Jensen calls for school vouchers” (August 31), I feel compelled to respond.

I am a Republican and this article made me angry. Using public funds to pay for “vouchers” for private schools, religious schools, and home schooling is a misuse of our public funds and a violation of the separation of church and state.

My children attended a parochial school, but my husband and I both worked extra jobs in order to pay their school fees. It was our choice.

The use of vouchers is nothing more than an attempt by the wealthy to further separate our children and our communities and make room for the few. A voucher system would invoke the selection and choice of those who would be accepted into these schools. Moreover, I believe it is a means of segregation and a cover for racism at its highest level.

A voucher system would further increase financial needs in our already struggling public schools.

Instead, we need to look at the real issues here – the lack of teachers and assistants and classrooms that are too big to adequately help those in need. Perhaps we should consider paying teachers, paraprofessionals and substitute teachers, encouraging parental involvement at home and at school, and reducing the size of classrooms in order to improve our education system. ‘education.

We must repair our educational foundation first, not put a band-aid on top.

Candace Kiebel, Minneapolis

TEACHER CONTRACT

I am a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant man. I have had experience teaching fourth graders as well as college, medical and graduate students. I don’t understand the “controversy” over the teachers’ union including in their contract a seniority exception for non-white teachers (“last in, first out”). I want to try to explain to those who oppose this change why I think it should not be opposed (“Controversial Means for a Dignified End”, editorial, August 27).

We start in a child’s first year to present the fundamentals in a way that they can understand and learn from this approach. In preschool education, socialization and role models are just as important as content. Then we gradually increase the content and complexity of the curriculum of the teachers present. Similarly, with the effort to overcome the disparity in educational achievement between whites and non-whites, some fundamentals must change to begin the process. The number of non-white teachers does not reflect the population of school-aged children. We should not accept any skill achievement less than 100% in any group. I’m not suggesting eliminating a white teacher to meet a budget. I propose that many more teachers be found and hired. But in the current battle over budgets, we have one side trying to increase the education budget and the other side trying to save money. The contract change attempts to establish a gradual improvement in the profile of teachers for the greater good of all students.

This is not a change that threatens the quality of education. It is a change that our society must adopt for the good of our children. So whatever the battle for money, we can advance our students’ proficiency by exposing them to more teachers that children identify with or can learn from. The lesson for those who don’t identify with non-white teachers is that quality education has no color.

Glenn T. Livevezey, Minnetonka

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