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Guess How Many Guns Are in Minnesota?

Plus arts education endangered again, talking race in school, and the squirrels are fucking with us in today's Flyover.

Maxim Potkin via Unsplash

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

*Whodini Voice* Guns. How Many of Us Have Them?

Hope you’re not looking for an answer to that question here. There’s no way of actually knowing, as Greta Kaul reports in MinnPost. But that number is growing in our state, as it is basically everywhere in the U.S. One way to approximately gauge this growth is through the increase in background checks—they’re up from 682,000 to over 900,000 in the past two years, and they’ve practically quadrupled over the past 20 years. Of course, that number omits folks who buy multiple guns at once, buy them illegally, or exploit the ol’ “gun show loophole” we’re always hearing about. In 2016, the RAND Corporation estimated that 37 percent of Minnesota households owned guns, a bit higher than the national average of 32, but given how ownership has shot (gun term) upward since then, that figure’s surely outdated. While some were new gun owners, lots were just people adding to their arsenal. The best answer to the headline question? “A lot” and “more.”

Deep Arts Ed Cuts Likely in Mpls Schools

Budget cuts are looming in Minneapolis Public Schools, and you know what that means: Arts education is on the block. After all, how essential can a subject be if you can’t judge what’s been learned with a standardized test? MPS is proposing to cut 280 teaching positions, Anthony Lonetree at the Star Tribune reports, and arts will be hit the hardest, with 18.5 full-time-equivalent positions lost, compared with 14.7 in social studies and 12.8 in math. Lonetree looks at how this will likely affect South High, with cuts to music, drama/theater, and dance proposed. These cuts are hardly surprising, given shrinking enrollment and the inevitable concern over “teacher contract costs” following this year’s strike. In St. Paul, Lonetree points out, which has stated a commitment to arts as part of “well-rounded education,” there are four vacancies for dance teachers alone. Then again, they made the hard decision of closing down schools and consolidating students. Unrelated: The state of Minnesota has a $9.25 billion budget surplus.

Demystifying “Ethnic Studies”

Ethnic Studies. It’s Matt Birk’s worst nightmare. (OK, probably second worst, after paying taxes.) Our would-be Lt. Governor (and, er, canny small-business owner) is “very alarmed” by the topic, which he compares to teaching children a religious belief system. At the top of Birk’s ticket, alleged doctor Scott Jensen worries that our kids are being “indoctrinated.” (Me too! Let’s ban the Pledge of Allegiance immediately.) And while I hate to start your week off with a Katherine Kersten quote, the Strib’s favorite reactionary pundit writes for the Center for the American Experiment that ethnic studies (or, as she would have it, “critical race theory”) is an “extremist ideology”—and Kath would know. (Go cry in front of a country club, you absolute dweebs.)

One way to determine if any of this is true (assuming you want to know that, rather than just throwing words around to rile up the I’m-not-racist-but electorate) would be to go to a school and find out. And over at Sahan Journal, that’s Becky Z. Dernbach did, visiting 2021 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Natalia Benjamin’s class in Rochester. And what did it look look? “Like students identifying problems they wanted to solve, deciding how to collect data about those issues, and figuring out how to navigate the school’s rules around their projects.” In other words, it looked like, you know, school. Anyway, please sit in one classroom ever in your life before sounding off about what happens inside them.

Hero Squirrel Paralyzes Prior Lake

The squirrels have had enough of the humans of Prior Lake. Around 7 on Sunday morning, a nibbling rodent caused nearly 4,000 households in the Scott County exurb to lose power, clearly just the first phase of a squirrel takeover of Greater Minnesota. Where will these scurrying terrorists strike next? Anywhere but my neighborhood is fine with me. Anyway, just be patient, little guys. We humans’ll take ourselves out soon enough.