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If Minnesota infants and young children could speak, they would surely say, “Thank God we don’t live in South Dakota!” after reading Why Housing and Childcare Cost Too Much (interview, February 27).
Comparing childcare costs in Minnesota to other states suggests that we are reducing the quality of childcare at licensed facilities to keep costs down. The authors suggest that to reduce costs, we increase the number of infants that one adult can care for.
Having worked as an administrator at a licensed daycare, I can tell you that looking after four young children is doable for one staff member. But it can be difficult to feed one baby and swaddle or comfort two others, and then have the fourth baby wake up from a nap and need attention. I have always been impressed by the diligence and multi-tasking efficiency of the staff. This was partly because of her compassion for the children, but also because of her need for ongoing training to better understand the developmental, physical, and emotional needs of young children. Wouldn’t you like the most qualified providers to take care of your children?
The authors are misleading when they claim that all daycare workers require a four-year degree or equivalent. Associates may qualify with other options, including a two-year degree and a required number of hours of caring for children, or a certificate of child development with a required number of hours of caring for children. All employees are required to have “continuing education units” related to child development, safety, nutrition, health and social emotional health. Just being 18 years old does not guarantee that the person is best qualified to care for children.
The early years are the most important for the development and well-being of our children. Research shows that 90% of the brain is developed by age 5 and that children who attend quality early childhood programs are better prepared to enter school, are more likely to complete high school, and are less likely to need special education. I would suggest that John Phelan and Martha Njolomole, the commentaries’ authors, review the data on quality early childhood programs and their economic impact with fellow economist Art Rolnick. Wouldn’t you like the most qualified providers to take care of your children? I would.
Margaret Shield, Winona, Minn.
With so many critical threads to explore, I choose babies. After reading Why Housing and Childcare Cost Too Much, one wonders if either author has ever cared for a baby eight or nine hours a day, five days a week, let alone five babies—each needs comfort, food, diaper changes, rocking, warm human interactions, and naps. Your suggestion that we reduce child care costs by increasing the number of infants currently allowed per caregiver in Minnesota’s child care centers from four to five leads me to believe that this is not the case. And if you had a child yourself that you wanted quality childcare for, would you be happy with the proposed 5:1 ratio?
Beth Rademacher, Minneapolis
From the Democratic Party platform, “We strongly and unequivocally support the decision to have a child to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy … by providing services during pregnancy and after child birth.” Gov. Tim Walz made one took a big step back from that promise by eliminating the funding for Positive Alternatives from its budget. Democrats need to look again at the unintended consequences of signing off on this in their eagerness to impose their “whirlwind of progressive measures.”
A quick look at the PA grant information on the Minnesota Department of Health website shows that grantees provide a variety of services throughout Minnesota. This small part of the total budget is special for those who chose to give birth — the very people Democrats are promising to support. The PA-funded Minnesota Prison Doula Project provides services to women in prison. Cradle of Hope provides safe sleep gear and emergency assistance nationwide.
Life Connections, a grantee in central Minnesota, disbursed $30,000 of its PA funds in 2022 to help young families avoid eviction and pay for child care, electricity and auto repair bills. It worked with public health workers delivering services in 17 counties, including some of the most poverty-stricken.
Contrary to all claims, PA grantees are closely monitored. Grantees deliver a unique set of evidence-based services efficiently and effectively.
Walz’s proposal would immediately result in low-income, BIPOC, LGBTQ and other communities losing much-needed aid. This is a betrayal of what the Democrats stand for. Rep. Liz Olson, a Duluth Democrat, agrees that the grant program has a purpose and should be funded. She suggests replacing it with a new bill — but that still means families are losing real, real-time services. A reasonable option is to leave the PA as is and make changes when the approval cycle ends in 2025. Our representatives must slow down, catch their breath, and remove political poses in order to make well-reasoned decisions that affect our state’s most vulnerable.
Julie Desautels, Alexandria, Minn.
The author is treasurer and mentor at Life Connections.
The transition to a clean energy future will have a huge impact on all energy-producing and energy-consuming segments of our society. The reporter of the article “The promise of clean energy – and trade-offs” (February 22) points out that one of the impacts will be the area occupied by wind turbines.
Wind energy in Minnesota is plentiful. When fully deployed, it could provide many times the current electricity consumption of our state. Wind is generated by pressure differences across the region, with air flowing toward low-pressure areas. Wind does not “blow”, it “sucks”. But the power generated by this differential is not dense. Turbines in a wind turbine must be spaced apart to allow air that has been slowed down by one turbine to be “sucked” back up to mean airspeed to power the next turbine. The result is that the infrastructure (turbine towers, roads) in a wind turbine removes only 3% of the land from its previous use – row crops, crops, pastures, etc. So the seemingly large percentage of Minnesota’s land area wind energy in the maximum estimates cited by the author ( up to 23%) would remove only 0.7% of Minnesota’s land area from its previous use.
John Dunlop, St Paul
The author is a founder of Renewable Energy Services and a retired technical program manager from the American Wind Energy Association.
If we are ever to enact a clean energy future in a way that allows us to sleep at night, then we seriously need to change the conversation about how to get there (“The Clean Energy Promise—And Tradeoffs”). Our state leaders have legislated for a zero-carbon future by 2040. Goals are all well and good, but these policymakers don’t really mean it unless they set out a clean way to get there that’s environmentally, economically, and socially just.
Clean energy technologies require enormous amounts of metals. In Minnesota we are on top of one of the world’s largest sources of these critical materials – copper, nickel, cobalt – and the technology exists to extract them in a scientifically sound and environmentally responsible manner. Yet we continue to rely on foreign sources and adversaries who use child labor and despicable environmental standards to obtain the minerals we need to build our electric cars and cell phones and to power the homes we live in.
Anti-development groups must stop blocking mines in this country under the guise of environmental responsibility. Because that is hypocrisy. Instead, let’s have a real conversation about moving forward and finding tradeoffs. Minnesota has a great opportunity in the clean energy space as it serves as a leader in the supply of minerals critical to our nation’s future energy security and the economic security of our workers. We can do this with environmentally responsible, responsible mining practices that are backed by science, not politics. Clean energy with a clear conscience? Let’s talk.
Kayla Christensen, Savage
The author is executive director of the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum.