Date: February 23, 2004
Subject: A quarter for your thoughts

Strib columnist Nick Coleman's cheap shots yesterday at Commissioner Yecke ("State's quarter ideas are bad, even deadly," February 22) were ironically exposed by the layout artist who located a related Associated Press story ("Quarter designs aren't always on the money") directly below the Coleman column.

After reading both articles, Coleman's attempts to stick it to the Commissioner ("Maybe she hasn't had time to worry about the quarter, but these designs make us look like hicks from the sticks") made him look either ignorant or like a liberal partisan hack. The truth is, starting with Minnesota, the U.S. Mint changed its design submission procedure. In typical bureaucratic fashion, the Mint required that Minnesota's design proposals be submitted in writing, ostensibly to avoid the complaints that resulted when state-submitted artwork for previous quarters was altered by Mint artists. The result was even worse than under the previous procedure.

"Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke," continued the AP article, "who leads the quarter commission, said that describing scenes with words rather than pictures was challenging."

Although the artwork that Coleman nitpicks did not come from Yecke's artists, the Coleman piece ends, "The governor should just say no. And order Yecke back to the drawing board (she's used to it). There's only one thing to do...Start over." What a nice allusion to the social studies standards, which is, besides Yecke, what Coleman is really attacking, right?

If someone asked me whether I would prefer being "shut out" of the standards committees or "shut out" of the media, I would answer by flipping through my paperback copy of 1984 to this passage:

"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"