All are not welcome in Birchwood

I was so disappointed after attending the special meeting of the Birchwood City Council to hear their final vote - to make the road one way. “Public outcry” was about wanting the council to open the road fully. Very few wanted it a one way, but it appeared the councils’ minds were already made up. It was a waste of time for me and my neighbors, because the council chose not to hear what the majority was saying in casting their vote. As a life long resident of Mahtomedi and Birchwood, it is so disappointing to not have a voice. I feel this councils’ decision is so divisive to our whole community. In this day and age, wouldn’t we all do better with a more welcoming and collaborative attitude?

Mary Soucheray Kurtz

Birchwood

 

Advocate for gun control laws

As someone who reads the paper every week and is also a 2022 graduate of White Bear Lake High School, I can’t help but notice the amount of letters to the editor that are published about distaste of things like gas prices and CRT, and the lack of concern for students’ safety in our schools. Gun violence in schools and in general is a difficult topic, but it shouldn’t be controversial. The more we shy away from discussing it, the more dangerous it may be for future students. Mass shootings are happening almost every day across the country, many of them in elementary schools and high schools, where people are legally obtaining assault rifles and using them to kill. School should be the very last place students are afraid to go. Every kid deserves a safe place to learn. I find it concerning that people are arguing about whether or not to teach kids about equity and racial bias when there is clearly a bigger issue in our schools. When you have the opportunity to vote, please keep students in mind and support candidates that care for students and advocate for stronger gun control laws. It’s not a matter of freedom, it is a matter of safety.

Julia Covert

White Bear Lake

 

Support Mahtomedi Farmers’ Market

The Mahtomedi Area Farmers’ Market returns for its 12th season this summer. Beginning June 25, it will run every Saturday through Oct.1, from 8 a.m. to noon, in Veterans Memorial Park (formerly Triangle Park). Volunteers with the non-profit Mahtomedi Community Builders have been organizing and operating the market since 2010. Road work and the pandemic have brought some challenges and changes in recent years, but the Farmers’ Market returned to its home in our beautiful downtown area last summer and will be there again this season. Faced with another summer of construction and road closures, we hope that you’ll come out to support the local vendors and your community. We can’t wait to see you.

Margie Grilley

Mahtomedi

 

PAID LETTER

More education funding needed

Republican Senator Roger Chamberlain, Chair of the Education Finance Committee, is responsible for addressing the needs of our public schools and students. The Democrat-controlled House presented a bill which would have addressed these needs. However, Chamberlain refused to support it. 

During the last couple of legislative sessions, educators and parents have been crying out for more funding. Their needs are many – including more mental health counselors/psychologists (Minnesota ranks 48th in the nation with a pathetic student to counselor ratio of 1 to 654), more nurses, additional funding for special education, more teachers/support staff, and more.  

Sen. Chamberlain’s education bill is an embarrassment to our state. It amounted to just 0.3% of the state’s surplus of funds. Enough is enough – every student deserves to receive an education that maximizes his/her capabilities. It’s time to vote Sen. Chamberlain out of office. That’s why I’m solidly supporting Heather Gustafson, who is a teacher and has had enough of this.

Patrick O’Neill

Vadnais Heights

 

PAID LETTER

Lack of action on education bill

I read the “Wrap up from the Capitol” published on June 8 and was surprised by what I saw from Sen. Roger Chamberlain, especially in regard to priorities for education this session. As chair of the Education Finance Committee, Sen. Chamberlain was responsible for creating a supplemental budget bill for our state’s public schools after two years of unprecedented challenges facing our students, teachers, and families. 

Sen. Chamberlain’s education bill shockingly included just $30 million for literacy training. Nothing for student mental health, nothing for support professionals like PCAs, nothing for more school counselors or nurses, and not a penny for the massively underfunded special education cross subsidy that breaks school budgets across the state. The bill number is SF 4113, and can be found at www.senate.mn.

This is why I was so surprised to read in the Capitol review that he said his education priorities were “literacy, special education and mental health funding, and no mandates.” This is simply not true, and I am disappointed the Senator would provide inaccurate information to his constituents. 

Beyond his lack of action to fund mental health or special education, schools in our community and state have been begging for action on other pressing needs, and with a $9.2 billion budget surplus, the legislature had a historic opportunity this year to act. Some crises facing schools to name a few: 

•Gun violence 

•Teacher and staff turnover and shortages due to excessive workload and burnout

•Staff shortages for after school care and programs

•Class sizes well over recommended maximums

•Cancellations of transportation and bus routes due to loss of staff

•A student to counselor ratio of 1 to 654, ranking us 48th in the nation

•Reductions in extra-curricular activities because of budget cuts

Sen. Chamberlain’s $30 million dollar literacy training program would have done nothing to address the many additional issues that students and teachers are crying out for help to address. His bill did not fund mental health, and it did not fund special education. If Sen.Chamberlain will not treat his constituents with the honesty we deserve, then he needs replacing.

Amy Frane-Gower

White Bear Lake

 

PAID LETTER

Education priorities are out of whack

I am extremely disappointed reading Sen. Roger Chamberlain’s “Wrap up from the Capitol” saying that he wanted to keep it simple for education this year, and focus on literacy, special education, and mental health. These are laudable and important goals, despite him and the Senate Republicans ignoring special education and mental health all session long. 

As the chair of the Senate Education Committee, it concerns me that he misses so much more that our schools have been calling for throughout recent tumultuous years in education.

All Minnesota students deserve a world class public education with the resources they need to succeed and lead our state into the future. The Senate Republicans’ activity in the legislature this year fails Minnesota students and lacks vision or leadership for the future. 

We know what students need to succeed: quality teachers, more counselors and nurses, funding for special education and English language learners, reliable transportation to school, and a healthy meal. Instead, the Senate Republicans wanted to spend our $9.2 billion surplus on tax cuts for the rich.

Our students, parents, and teachers have faced unprecedented disruption in the last two years, and they’re asking for help. Sen. Chamberlain proposed $30 million in his education budget - versus $240.5 million per year in tax relief for wealthy Minnesotans. This is not only wrong, but ignores the desperate calls from school districts in all of our districts to do something for students. 

The Senate Republicans proposed spending $13 million more on tax cuts for those earning over $500k per year than on Sen. Chamberlain’s entire Education bill. The Senate Republicans wanted to spend eight times more on cuts for those earning over $250k than the $30.7 million for all of our state’s public schools. 

We need robust, fully funded schools to help them succeed and thrive. This year our state had a historic opportunity to do what is right by our students, and Sen.Chamberlain fell far short. 

JoAnn Winter

White Bear Township

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