Education, environment, agriculture, Scott Jensen, nursing

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


The education policy debate between gubernatorial candidates this election cycle hasn’t yet addressed an item of major importance to our children: that globalization of the professions is already happening.

Jobs in engineering, software development, IT, finance, accounting, research and development, marketing, administration, etc., currently are held by teleworkers in other countries. That trend will only expand as more jobs once considered local become global. It won’t be long before other professions, such as law and medicine, follow.

This changing workplace dynamic means that our children will no longer be competing for jobs, opportunities and promotions against local talent only. The COVID pandemic has proven that teleworkers can be more productive than onsite workers doing the same job. And teleworkers can work remotely from any location in the world that has internet service.

I attend as many as seven Microsoft Teams meetings in any given week for software development and engineering projects. Also in attendance are co-workers in India, New Jersey and the Middle East, and local expats from Japan and the United Kingdom. When my grandchildren reach midcareer, they may count among their co-workers AI avatars (like Siri) that appear as holographic projections, as well as sophisticated humanoid robots.

In a world of globalized professions, a world-class education is the foundation on which our children will build the skills and capabilities that will enable them to compete successfully in a global marketplace.

Which brings us back to the education policy debate: Gov. Tim Walz supports financing a world-class education for all Minnesota students but hasn’t explained why. It’s not a nice-to-have if our children are going to be equipped to compete and succeed in the future — it’s a must-have.

On the other hand, GOP candidate Scott Jensen refers to public education spending as “a black hole.” Does that mean he intends to cut spending on public education if elected? If so, when I peer into that black hole, I see our children’s future career prospects tumbling into the abyss.

Ivor Matz, St. Anthony


I am a retired teacher, a fly fisherman and a rural citizen concerned about pollution and water quality. I am waiting for the results of an investigation into an incident that killed 2,500 fish in a southeastern Minnesota stream near Lewiston in late July. I would be concerned, but perhaps not alarmed, if this was not the third massive fish kill in recent years. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and other state agencies are investigating to determine the cause of this fish kill incident and hopefully will determine why this keeps happening and whether there are solutions that can be explored to stop it. Why are the rules in place to protect our public waters not working? Something is not right when the water in our streams can’t sustain life, and it calls into question whether this problem is finding its way into our drinking water. It is not too far a stretch to imagine our aquifers being polluted and the health of humans being threatened. Maybe the fish are a warning.

Please watch the media for future stories or perhaps call the MPCA and ask about the fish kill investigation. I would also urge concerned citizens to determine whether the candidates they choose to support in the coming election share their views on this issue.

Tom Muschler, St. Charles, Minn.


I am a University of Minnesota alumnus and have worked in the food and ag industries for 30-plus years. It was disappointing to see that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is supporting increased organic ag production and that the Star Tribune would choose to print this without some balanced reporting on the negatives of organic ag and food (“U.S. recruiting organic farmers,” Oct. 2). Studies by Stanford University and the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency have shown that organic food is not more nutritious or safer. A study by U scientists had shown that organic produce from Minnesota and Wisconsin had a higher level of E. coli (a human pathogen) than nonorganic produce, which is not unexpected as manure, a common source of E. coli, is a primary source of nitrogen fertilizer in organic ag. Other studies, including by other U scientists, have shown fewer environmental benefits and increased CO2 production in organic ag.

In these inflationary times, one can only empathize with parents who buy overpriced organic food, thinking they are doing what is best for their children when the opposite is the case.

William Pilacinski, Blaine


Scott Jensen, candidate for governor, seems to personally value education. Along with his medical degree he’s attended Luther Seminary and several business management courses. His wife and children all have advanced degrees. Somewhere along the line, I’m sure he’s spent significant time in libraries, studying and doing research.

You wouldn’t expect the former valedictorian of Sleepy Eye to be taken in by an internet hoax and yet, he makes national news for claiming that kids are using litter boxes in schools (“Campaign check: Jensen repeats rumor about ‘furries,'” Oct. 5). For me, an educator who has seen a lot in 40-plus years in schools, a truly bizarre statement such as that one demands verification, and advanced degrees are not necessary to quickly prove it to be false, just as false as many of his COVID-19 conspiracy claims were proven to be.

After this silly sidetrack to disparage public education, should I believe what he claimed on his website?

“Scott will continue to tell the truth. He will not be intimidated, and he will fight ‘cancel culture.’ There will be no more reliance on faulty models, bad data, and decisions for our children and small businesses that are politically based.”

No, although Jensen is skilled and educated and capable of finding the truth, he chooses not to tell it. (Politically based bias, perhaps?) I think I’ll place my reliance on Gov. Tim Walz, a former teacher who actually knows how schools and education work.

Jean M. Doolittle, Ham Lake


The dean of the nursing school at the University of Minnesota acknowledges that “we aren’t keeping up” with the need in the state for an estimated 25,000 new registered nurses per year by the end of this decade (“Nursing schools tackle shortage,” Oct. 5).

Well, yes. This year the nursing school had over 1,000 applicants for 118 spaces in its freshman class. How many other qualified young people did not even apply because they knew that such a highly selective admissions process denies them access?

There are a number of factors here, such as a shortage of faculty and clinical sites. Another factor may be the desire of the university to maintain its No. 15 ranking of Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs by U.S. News & World Report, part of which is based on the academic scores of freshman students.

The remedy is to provide more resources to the nursing school and to admit a much higher number of qualified first-year students. In fiscal year 2022 university administrators allocated $5.9 million to the nursing school out of a total of $622 million the university received in general appropriations from the state Legislature. The allocation of funds reflects what we truly value.

Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville

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