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Minnesota asked a question. The answer's in North Dakota. As a newspaper on the Northern Plains, the Herald is probably not your best source of opinion on, say, modern whaling practices. But there's one policy area that our location on the North Dakota-Minnesota border makes us uniquely qualified to comment on. That's the area of policy differences between the two states. And where Sunshine Laws are concerned, here's our comment:
Five percent. One hundred percent. Those are the figures to keep in mind as we approach a big moment in UND sports history: the men's basketball team's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament. ▇ Five percent is the rough estimate of No. 15-seed UND's odds of beating its first-round foe, No. 2-seed Arizona. Sure, that makes victory look like a remote possibility. But here's the thing: Five percent is not zero. Five percent means UND has a very real chance.
Two things are clear: First, North Dakota remains a "boom and bust" state. The busts aren't pulling the state nearly as far down as they used to; North Dakota remains on an overall upward trajectory, a much healthier path than it was on as recently as the 1990s. But that welcome ascent still is going to zig-zag, thanks to commodity prices' ups and downs. So, that's one thing we now know. Here's the other: Public K-12 education has fared a lot better in this downturn than has any other government sector.
You can find Scylla and Charybdis in the Strait of Messina, the two-mile-wide gap between Italy and the island of Sicily. That's where, since ancient times, sailors have used great caution when navigating between the rocks of Scylla on one side and the whirlpools of Charybdis on the other. Or, you can find Scylla and Charybdis a lot closer to home. Specifically, in the Minnesota Senate. For there the obstacles loom, blocking the way forward for a Real ID bill, and leaving open between them only a narrow passage that's beset by currents from both sides.
"We're going to win so much that you may even get tired of winning," candidate Donald Trump said on the campaign trail. We'll see whether that future unfolds for America as a whole. But if Thief River Falls and other entities can convince Digi-Key to "stay local" with the company's $200 million expansion, Trump's description will be the mood in northwestern Minnesota for sure. Digi-Key Electronics could add 1,000 jobs to the plant's Thief River Falls operation, officials announced this week.
"These are dark days for the Fighting Sioux Empire," a contributor posted at SiouxSports.com, back in 2013. Remember that time? "Despite Big Sky membership (which I am very excited about), despite having an indoor football arena (which is so important during October and November in North Dakota) and despite having a very nice (and homey) basketball arena in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, our programs have yet to shake off the Division I transition growing pains."
Sure, it's parochial. But so is the entire U.S. Senate. And the Senate's structure—two senators per state, putting North Dakota on par with California—is the Constitution's only provision that's walled off from ordinary amendments, making it even more "sacred" than the Bill of Rights. This 230-year-old history matters today because it helps explain what just happened to the Life Skills and Transition Center in Grafton, N.D.
Now and then, it's worth taking a look at how the sausage gets made. From a distance, at least. And from that vantage, the "sausage making" that went into the drafting of Senate Bill 2243 is worth noting, because the people in charge did the key things right. "Senate Bill 2243 creates a student loan reimbursement program for two teachers to work in a North Dakota school district or nonpublic school with fewer than 1,000 students," Forum News Service reported.
Editor's note: Last week, Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota's state superintendent of public instruction, sat down to talk about K-12 issues with the Herald editorial board. What follows is a transcript of that conversation, edited for clarity and length. □ □ □ Baesler: I spent Monday at Legacy Elementary in West Fargo, and today at Fargo South with high schoolers, and I realized that our students as well as our schools are changing so quickly. There's no way that the high school will look the same as it does today, even when those elementary students get there.
Where gaffes are concerned, Donald Trump changed the rules. Trump laced his campaign communications with barbs, including wicked zingers about Megyn Kelly, John McCain and even Ted Cruz's wife. He seldom apologized, and the firestorms about his remarks certainly didn't drive him out of the race. Just the opposite. He won. So, no one's quite sure what the rules are now. If a gaffe is spoken in public but it doesn't affect a pol's standing, does it make a sound?