- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Star Tribune, Sept. 2

Finally, all-day K makes Minnesota debut

All-day kindergarten at no charge to families finally arrived in Minnesota this week, 30 years after then-Gov. Rudy Perpich began discussing that change in earnest at the State Capitol. Public policy changes often take years, but this one should have come much sooner to Perpich’s “Brainpower State.”

The change is a boon for families, some of whom had been paying as much as $4,000 a year for their children to spend a second half-day in kindergarten each day, and some of whom lived in school districts that previously did not offer an all-day kindergarten option at any price.

Enacted by the 2013 Legislature at the urging of Gov. Mark Dayton, the change will cost state taxpayers $134 million this year, a modest sum compared with the $8.5 billion the state will spend on K-12 education in 2014-15. It should produce a big long-term payoff in student success. Studies show that learning accelerates when children are in kindergarten all day rather than half-days, with gains most noted among students who are English language learners and/or from low-income families - those who today are at the lagging end of Minnesota’s persistent achievement gap.

Some of those same studies also point to what ought to be Minnesota’s next educational policy push - more, better and more affordable preschool. For at-risk children, optimal results come from the reinforcing combination of quality preschool and all-day kindergarten. Offering those children that one-two punch ought to be a high priority for a state whose prosperity much depends on its well-educated workforce.

For too long at the Legislature, all-day kindergarten and preschool competed for scarce dollars, with neither cause sufficiently advancing. That picture changed beginning in 2013 with Minnesota’s improving economy and growing support for early learning within both parties at the Legislature.

A preschool push has already begun at the Legislature, with $44.6 million for fiscal 2014-15 pumped into early learning scholarships for low-income families. In this fall’s campaign, Minnesotans should hear from candidates for governor and the state House how they intend to build on that foundation, with a goal that every child arrives in kindergarten ready to learn.

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Post-Bulletin, Sept. 3

‘Redskins’ is a slur, no matter how you try to justify it

It’s a safe assumption that “Redskin” is not a word used in most households in our readership area.

Yet, the Post-Bulletin finds itself addressing this issue for the third time in less than a year, even though just 0.3 percent of Rochester’s and Olmsted County’s population is of Native American descent. Despite Minnesota’s history being intertwined with the indigenous people, just 1.3 percent of the state’s residents today are Native American.

An objective reader will ask why bother with a topic that affects such a small minority. If something is wrong, even if it doesn’t offend a majority of our readers, it’s still wrong. Besides, any student of democracy should be aware that a long list of philosophers, extending from Plato to James Madison to John Stuart Mill, all warned against the oppression of minorities by the tyranny of the majority.

The origin of the word is unclear, with some scholars arguing Native Americans called themselves “Redskins” early in their relationships with white settlers. However, most historians say the word lost its innocuous connotation generations ago and became the racial slur it is today.

While a recent poll conducted by Langer Research for ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” shows 68 percent of people asked said the nickname is not disrespectful of Native Americans, 23 percent said the name should be changed, a 9-percentage-point jump from last year. The same poll showed 19 percent of those surveyed said the name shows “some” disrespect, and 9 percent said it is “a lot” disrespectful.

The Post-Bulletin Editorial Board sees the gradual shift in opinion as a positive sign. Every defense of the name falls short, leaving us to conclude “Redskin” is a slur, no matter how you try to justify its continued use.

From this day forward, the term “Redskin” will not appear in our editorials. You will continue to see the word used in Post-Bulletin sports and news coverage. Our colleagues at the Post-Bulletin must hold a mirror to the world and cover it as it exists. Our reporters on the news and sports pages don’t have the privilege of writing about society as they wish it should be. We also will not impose that standard on our readers if they choose to write about the team name.

The momentum is shifting toward an inevitable change. The Pew Research Center says more than 75 sports outlets and journalists have announced they no longer will use the “Redskin” name, including notable personalities such as Chris Collinsworth, Bob Costas, Tony Dungy, Peter King, Tony Kornheiser, Keith Olbermann, Bill Simmons and Phil Simms.

We’re also struck by others who have called for a name change, including conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who a year ago wrote that “Redskin” should stop being used for the same linguistic reasons many other slurs have fallen out of favor.

“I wouldn’t want to use a word that defines a people - living or dead, offended or not - in a most demeaning way,” Krauthammer wrote. “It’s not a question not of who or how many had their feelings hurt, but of whether you want to associate yourself with a word that, for whatever historical reason having nothing to do with you, carries inherently derogatory connotations.”

More recently, Jordan Wright, granddaughter of George Preston Marshall, who owned the team from 1932 until his death in 1969, spoke out against continued use of the “Redskins” name.

“If even one person tells you that name, that word you used, offends them, then that’s enough,” Wright said during an interview in July.

Choosing the “Redskins” mascot was wrong when Marshall renamed his team in 1933. It will continue to be wrong until the day current owner Dan Snyder relents and finally changes it.

Until then, when Snyder acknowledges his egregious insensitivity, the word will not appear in our editorials.

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The Journal of New Ulm, Sept. 3

Sticker shock with Obamacare

In large measure, President Barack Obama’s health care law was sold to Americans based on his contention government can handle certain tasks more economically than the private sector.

Last week a government inspector general reported at least one-third of the government contracts used to administer Obamacare are vastly over budget.

The HealthCare.gov website - a record-setting fiasco of inefficiency and complete breakdowns - has become a massive sponge soaking up taxpayers’ money. Inspector general’s investigators looked into 60 contracts linked to construction and operation of the website.

Twenty of those contracts were projected to cost a total of about $345 million. With the contracts still not completed, overruns total about $283 million.

Of course, Americans by the millions already are learning claims of savings through Obamacare were gigantic falsehoods. Led to believe their out-of-pocket spending would be limited, many are finding health care through the system can cost them enormous sums.

Virtually nothing about Obamacare is as the president and his cronies in Congress promised. Vast cost overruns in contracts to handle the system should come as no surprise, then.

If government initiatives in the past are any guide, sticker shock already being experienced is merely the tip of a very costly iceberg.


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