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Letter: Important differences between FOIA and Minn. Data Practices Act

There are important differences between FOIA and MGDPA.

Letter to the Editor graphic

The recent “Our View” (Rochester School District Data Practices request from Equality in Education) appeared to be hastily written.

The editorial focuses too much on the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), when the request is actually under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA). Two different laws, with a similar general theme, but differences in how they are carried out. FOIA is “baked into” executive branch agencies, meaning their data and record-keeping methods assume that a FOIA request could occur. Too often, agencies under laws like MGDPA fail to do this, even though technology (like Google Classroom) should make it far less complex and time-consuming than is claimed. And so excuses like “teachers should be teaching” and outrageous fees are used to avoid compliance with the law.

One recent study showed only 7.6% of FOIA requests come from journalists. I wonder why that is. Lack of interest? See Batya Ungar-Saryon's recent book.

Just spit-balling here, but do the number of MGDPA and FOIA requests track polls showing the decline in public trust of government agencies over the past several decades?

Editors throw gas on the fire by claiming Critical Race Theory is an old, law school enterprise, not taught in schools, etc. (Tip: No one, including Equality in Education, thinks schools are teaching classes on Critical Race Theory using the Delgado/Stefancic text. Editors should at least make a ninth-grade attempt at understanding the issue.)

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Steve Boe, La Grande, Ore. (formerly Bemidji)

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