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Letters: St. Paul’s schools plan, the importance of Medicare advantage, and preserving nature in Northeast Minnesota

Our weekly roundup of letters from MinnPost readers.

empty classroom
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Closing schools is the wrong choice

The St. Paul School Board recently voted to accept a modified version of the Envision SPPS plan that will close six public schools. These schools serve a majority BIPOC population and not a single majority white school will be affected. SPPS should be engaging with stakeholders to tackle the inequities in their system, but instead the Board chose to support a path that will almost certainly make it worse.

The Envision SPPS plan was announced just 6 weeks before it was voted on. There were only a handful of short listening sessions. This decision felt rushed and parents, students and staff were left out.

What is there to be gained by closing school? What children have been helped by closing a school? Closing schools is a sign of a failure. A failure of the state to provide adequate funding. A failure of the school district by keeping families, students and staff out of the search for solutions. We need a district prioritizing building solutions with our community, not in spite of our community.

This is a part of a many years long push to weaken our schools. Schools are not factories; they don’t produce a product to be bought and sold. Public education is not designed to turn a profit. The focus of public education should be on outcomes of our kids, not the cheapest way to get it done. Public education is an investment in all of our futures. Closing schools only traumatizes families.

—Sheigh Freeberg, St. Paul

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Preserving Medicare Advantage

Staying active is the key to feeling healthy, no matter your age. Which is why being able to access the Silver Sneakers program through Medicare Advantage has made such a big difference in improving senior health.

At the South St. Paul Senior Center, I help schedule senior programs. And let me tell you, every week our Silver Sneakers programs are filled with seniors who want to get up and moving and see members of their community. But without Medicare Advantage, many of those same seniors would be unable to afford the classes they love to attend.

I hope that Sen. Tina Smith and Sen. Amy Klobuchar recognize the importance of a robust health care program – one that doesn’t just cover your costs when you get sick, but helps you stay healthy. That’s exactly what Medicare Advantage does. By connecting seniors with programs like Silver Sneakers, they can build, and keep, healthy habits that lead to happier, healthier lives. I urge our senators to defend this program and fight back against any proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage to keep programs available to seniors.

—Linda Jacobs-Buse, South St. Paul Community Education Facilitator

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Put nature first

Our family has enjoyed Lutsen Mountain and the Sawtooths for decades but not without concerns given the impact on the Poplar River, Lake Superior and the fragmentation of the landscape and ecosystem.

In a world of rising temperatures, growing scarcity of water and unending development pressures considering a special-use permit in the proximity of a Scientific and Natural Area (see “Lloyd Scherer and the legacy of the Superior Highlands”) seems unwise and certainly not in the best interests of nature and a business that has more than once talked about the importance of sustainability and protecting the very resources that make the North Shore and Lutsen Mountain so unique.

Millions of dollars are being spent to restore and regenerate the forests and streams of Northeast Minnesota after decades of degradation. Let’s make a sound decision here based on science and put nature first for a change.

—John H. Anderson, Lutsen

MinnPost welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Interested in joining the conversation? Submit your letter to the editor. The choice of letters for publication is at the discretion of MinnPost editors; they will not be able to respond to individual inquiries about letters.