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As others see it: English-only idea lacks wisdom

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announces an $86 million plan to add jobs in the renewable, solar and similar industries Monday at the Capitol. He later flew around the state to promote the proposal.

With the start of a new school year, a state budget deficit that only promises to spread misery to virtually every sector of public life and the beginning of the intense election season, you can be sure to hear a lot about edu-cation in the upcoming months.

So, we'd like to throw an idea on the table.

Last month as Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was roaming around the country as an official unofficial presidential contender, he made the statement that Minnesota should adopt an English-only position.

That kind of talk plays well in an election year as the GOP takes a hard tilt to the extreme right. And since Pawlenty's been a lame duck in Minnesota for more than a year, no one back home really took him seriously.

So much for Minnesota nice.

We suppose it's Minnesota nice so long as you speak our language, and have our color of skin.

But this isn't an editorial railing on the narrow-mindedness and the partisan pandering of a man whose legacy has been to leave Minnesota and its once proud institutions in shambles.

Instead, we wonder if Pawlenty really missed a bigger opportunity. ...

Instead of wishing all Minnesota be English-only, why not advocate for more mandatory foreign languages in every school, down to the elementary level? And why stop at only one foreign language?

If Pawlenty really wanted to show leadership -- the kind worthy of the Oval Office he may or may not be seeking -- then why play to a soundbite that already appeals to hard-liners? Why not offer something truly innovative?