Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Spending for schools

THUMBS UP: It is gratifying to see the report on the District 88 budget this week that indicates that 80 percent of District 88 funds are going toward instruction this year.

In the past, there have been noises coming from state government that accountability is needed in Minnesota’s public schools, and that school districts needed to show they are spending at least 60 or 70 percent, or whatever percent someone came up with, in the classroom.

Well, we’d guess most districts were already spending well over that percentage already. The report from District 88 is an indication.

Of course, a lot depends on what you consider “classroom” spending. Teachers, books, desks and chairs, of course, should count, but so should libraries and media centers, special education programs, counselors and other support staff. And in winter, heating the rooms is kind of important, too.

We’re confident District 88 schools are making the best use of the money taxpayers provide to them.

Dakota riders

THUMBS UP: We have to admire the riders in the Dakota 38+2 memory ride that traveled on horseback past New Ulm on Christmas Eve, on their way from Lower Brule, S.D., to Mankato for the commemoration of the execution of their ancestors after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

We admire their grit, first of all. It can’t be easy to spend two weeks on horseback in the face of sub-zero windchills. It is a test of their determination.

We also admire the spirit of the group, expressed by Staff Keeper Perry Little. They were seeking healing and reconciliation, he said. “We cannot forget, but we can forgive,” he said.

Those are excellent words that we can all apply at some time in our lives.

Hope for better year

THUMBS UP: The year is almost over, and we have to say, it’s tough to decide if 2013 deserves a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Between government shutdowns, crashing Obamacare web sites, and an excess of attention being paid to Miley Cyrus, it’s hard to find a lot of good things to say about the year.

Fortunately, this is also the time when we can all look ahead, and resolve to make this a better year than the one we just had. It would be nice to be able to make resolutions for some other people, but we can only control what we do ourselves.

So here’s to 2014. It can only get better.