Athletics a la carte (5×8 -2/9/11)

Paying to play, talking txt, roundabouts reconsidered, the point of no return, and busted in a boom.


Is this the beginning of the end for high school after-school activities?

Lakeville has joined the list of school districts that have chosen to charge parents more money if they want their kids to play school sports or other activities. The parents will pay 75% of extracurricular fees and there’ll be no cap on the amount parents would pay. If you’ve got a brainy kid who can pass the puck, you’ll have to pay more.

Sure the the $600 for basketball, gymnastics and volleyball, and the $440 for adaptive sports and cheerleading is pricey, but there’s still an argument to be made that athletics should be sacrificed before academics (although there’s a good debate on this going on at Lakeville Patch). But the school board also tacked on fees for debate, math league and mock trial.

What’s happening in your district? What are the fees, if any? Has your family sacrificed extra-curriculars because of them?

The Duluth News Tribune has the other side of the coin: Students have left the school district and now the district is ready to spend money on a marketing campaign to get some back. “School districts years ago didn’t worry about marketing,” Superintendent Keith Dixon said. “There was no other choice. Market share? We had it. It’s a new day.”

It’s not known yet what the marketing plan will push but the paper quotes a district spokeswoman, who cited the main reasons given by parents whose kids left the district. Athletics and extra-curricular activities did not appear to be near the top.


When did we start talking like text messages, the Associated Press asks.

People who think acronyms are new may be suffering from what linguists call a “recency illusion” — the illusion that something is new merely because one has just noticed it. They may not realize, for example, that the oft-used “snafu,” in its cruder, more popular version, contains the same “F” that “WTF” does.

But one thing that does seem genuinely new, Greene says, “is that these three-letter phrases from the Internet and twitter-speak are being spoken out loud.”

It turns out, speaking in acronyms has been part of language for hundreds of years. Alright, that’s taken care of. Next up: Why do people start sentences with “so”?


Why are people still get worked up about roundabouts — “rotaries” we we used to call them in New England? In Crow Wing County — Brainerd — a man objected to a proposed roundabout in the city, invoking World War II in the process.

“Being a good American that I am and thinking we fought a war with Europe over some things, this is one of those things that seems to me to be European,” County Commission Chair Paul Thiede said. “… What are we accomplishing and if it doesn’t work what is the corrective action?”

It’ll work, the traffic engineer said.

And, indeed, they have when they’ve been installed. A lot of people predicted doom when Woodbury’s Bailey Road roundabout was built a few years ago — one of the first ones in the state. They predicted a lot of accidents, but there’ve been relatively few and when there are, they’re at slower speeds than people running through stop signs or red lights, which Woodbury drivers do with — literally — reckless abandon.

Oh, the Crow Wing County Board approved the roundabout project. Brainerd, the Paris of Minnesota.


Here’s a guy who really doesn’t want to be a robber:

It happened around Seattle. The man got $300 and was arrested a short time later.

Let’s put our heads together here: What other options did the man have?

Also on the crime beat: In Northampton in the UK, a bunch of punks on scooters were no match for an old lady with a purse when they tried a smash-and-grab at a jewelry store:


MPR’s Dan Gunderson details the negative side of any economic boom. People flocking to an area looking for work and ending up homeless because they didn’t find any. It’s happening in a big way in Fargo and other parts of North Dakota, he reports.

This winter, local agencies are hearing from as many as 60 people a week who looking for shelter.

For the first time, the local school has hired a homeless liaison, said Darianne Johnson, who runs the local domestic violence shelter. People are sleeping in cars or cramming 10 people into a one bedroom apartment.

Johnson said she’s heard people are renting unheated storage garages to sleep in.

Bonus: Bloopers from everyone’s favorite Super Bowl commercial.


The sun rose this morning in St. Paul at 7:22 a.m. It rises 19 minutes later on the state’s western border. The sun sets in St. Paul today at 5:32 p.m. It sets on the western border at 5:42 p.m. — 10 minutes later. Where do the 9 minutes come from?


The health care law passed last year has drawn fire for its requirement that every American buy health insurance. Advocates say such a mandate is necessary because without it, only sick people will buy coverage. But other incentives might induce healthy people to enroll – for example, a five-year waiting period before those who at first opt out are eligible to buy coverage and enjoy any of the discounts or guarantees provided under the law. If your choice was to enroll in a health plan or remain on your own for at least five years, what would you do?


A pledge drive starts today — lots of rebroadcasts of some favorite shows coming.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: She was called Queen of Kings, and in her lifetime Cleopatra was romantically linked with both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Biographer Stacy Schiff discusses her.

Second hour: Historian Joseph Ellis’s new book takes a look at the enduring relationship between John Adams and his wife, Abigail, as revealed through their letters to one another.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former governor Arne Carlson previews the State of the State address by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Second hour: Live broadcast of the State of the State address.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Ken Rudin looks at the future for moderates in the Democratic Party.

Second hour: The Blind Side’s Michael Oher.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Gov. Mark Dayton delivers his first State of the State speech to the new Republican-led Legislature. He’s expected to make the case for why he thinks the state needs to raise income taxes on top earners. Republican leaders are likely to react by saying they can balance the budget with spending cuts alone. MPR’s Tim Pugmire will have the story.

Central Corridor Light Rail has set goals that exceed federal standards on hiring minority and women-run contracting firms, but those goals may not be achievable, MPR’s Dan Olson will report.