Editorial Roundup: Minnesota

Minneapolis Star Tribune. June 19, 2022.

Editorial: Congrats to state’s graduates

And special kudos to Minnesota’s National Merit scholars.

Students and families across Minnesota are cheering on teens at cap-and-gown ceremonies that celebrate high school achievements. It’s graduation season, and many are singing the praises of graduates who have received their diplomas and are ready to launch into the young adult world of more education or employment.

Some of those teens and their families can toast a special academic honor. So far, just over 100 state students have been named National Merit scholars.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. (NMSC) estimates about 16,000 students qualified for this year’s awards based on their 2020 PSAT scores, representing less than 1% of high school seniors nationwide. Last fall, of that total about 270 Minnesota students were deemed eligible for the honor.

Scholarships are offered in three categories — those sponsored by National Merit, corporations and colleges. Information about winners is released in four batches — in April, May, June and July. Students are selected based on their test scores, an essay, a list of extracurriculars and an endorsement from an educator.

National Merit Scholarships provide $2,500 toward the student’s freshman year of college. College-sponsored recipients receive four-year renewable awards ranging from $500 to $2,000 per year. And corporate-sponsored winners receive four-year renewable awards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 annually, or single-payment awards ranging from $2,500 to $5,000.

Because the final group of winners will be announced next month, it’s possible that the number of Minnesota scholarship recipients will be higher.

High schoolers in the group of 66 named this month come from all over Minnesota. Two metro-area high schools had the highest number — Wayzata High in Plymouth produced 15 and 10 recipients attend Mounds View High in Arden Hills. Edina and Minnetonka high schools had seven and six winners, respectively, and five recipients attend the Blake School in Minneapolis.

NMSC’s worthy mission is to recognize academically talented students, promote a wider and deeper respect for learning and stimulate increased scholarship support from individuals and organizations.

Kudos to the scholars and their families for achieving such academic excellence through one of the most difficult times education has endured. They persevered through COVID-related disruptions and other challenges to earn the prestigious national honor.

And congratulations to all of Minnesota’s other high school graduates. We look forward to the great things you’ll accomplish in the years ahead.

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Mankato Free Press. June 18, 2022.

Editorial: MSU reaches out to marginalized students

Thumbs up to Minnesota State University and its efforts to welcome marginalized communities and high school students to summer camps that aim to help students feel comfortable at college and experience what can be possible with a college degree.

MSU hosted this week its first Asian American Pacific Islander Summer Camp to introduce Asian American high school students to the college experience. Ninth through 12th graders were invited to a three-day camp that was aimed in part at solidarity building as well as experiencing college life.

Asian Americans came under attack during the pandemic as ex-President Donald Trump and others tried to blame the pandemic on them. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism recently reported a 169% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in the first quarter of 2021 and a 339% increase for the year.

MSU has also reached out to Native American students and been operating a similar summer camp for eight years.

Disasters galore

Thumbs down to the number of natural disasters occurring, fueled by climate change that still isn’t taken seriously by too many Americans.

Last week about one-third of the United States was under dangerous heat and drought advisories, and it’s only early June.

Meanwhile, wildfires are raging across the West at record pace. California’s sequoia trees are struggling to survive climate change heat and more severe wildfires.

And early last week all Yellowstone National Park entrances were closed in the wake of what the National Park Service called “unprecedented” rainfall causing “substantial flooding, rockslides and mudslides on roadways.”

Decades ago, scientists around the world began warning of man-made greenhouse gases changing the climate. The warnings were ignored by those who benefited from fossil fuels and politicians who benefit from supporting them.

What we’re seeing is the result, and yet there are still too many who deny climate change and don’t want to take the steps needed to ensure things don’t get much worse.

Avoidable disease

Thumbs down to two measles cases occurring in Minnesota.

State health officials said this week they confirmed two cases of measles in preschoolers who live in Hennepin County. The siblings developed symptoms shortly after returning from another country where the disease is common, the state health department said in a news release. The children were unvaccinated, and one was hospitalized due to complications.

Getting children all of their immunizations is as important as ever. The health department reports that childhood vaccination rates statewide declined slightly during the pandemic. Recent data show the percentage of Minnesota 2-year-olds who had received at least one dose of the MMR — measles, mumps, rubella — vaccine was 81.4% in 2019, then declined to 79.3% in 2021.

That may not seem like a huge dip, but vaccination rates need to be as high as possible to protect children from serious diseases.

If your children got behind on their immunizations, it’s time to catch up.

Electoral paranoia

Thumbs down to the continued acceptance by far too many Republicans of Donald Trump’s Big Lie.

This week, even as the House Select Committee honed in on Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election:

• A judge in Wisconsin held the election “investigator” hired by the Republican state Assembly speaker in contempt, fined him $2,000 a day until he complies with an earlier court order and referred his findings to the state’s legal discipline office. Michael Gableman’s bogus investigation has thus far cost Wisconsin taxpayers $900,000 and turned up no legitimate issues with the 2020 vote.

• A county commission in New Mexico refused to certify the primary election results there, citing disproven conspiracy theories about the election machines. One of the commissioners is about to be sentenced for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Several Big Lie advocates have won Republican primaries in this cycle, in such swing states as Nevada and Pennsylvania. Oddly, those winners don’t doubt the validity of those vote counts.

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