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Local/state briefs

College removes name of racist botanist from arboretum

ST. PETER (AP) — A private college in Minnesota has renamed its arboretum that originally honored an 18th century Swiss botanist who has been lambasted for promoting racist scientific theory, school officials said Tuesday.

The popular greenspace at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, located about 70 miles south of the Twin Cities, has been known as the “Linnaeus Arboretum” since 1988. It recognized Carl Linnaeus, who popularized the system of classifying living things and divided them into the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms.

Recently, though, Linnaeus has been criticized for his 18th century book “Systema Naturae,” in which he classified four varieties of human, largely based on skin color and geography, which became the basis for scientific racism.

“Gustavus has historically sought to build an inclusive and just community,” said Mark Anderson, chairman of the college’s board of trustees. “In recent years, and especially since George Floyd’s murder, we have strengthened our efforts to pay attention to underrepresented voices and discovered how painful Linnaeus’ name and legacy are for some of our students and visitors.”

The 120-acre plot that includes over a dozen formal gardens and restored natural areas has been renamed “The Arboretum at Gustavus Adolphus College.”

St. Paul district officials consider closing 5 schools

ST. PAUL (AP) — The St. Paul school district is considering closing five schools due to falling enrollment.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that school board members were briefed Monday on a proposal to close four elementary schools — Highwood Hills, John A. Johnson, Jackson and Wellstone — as well as LEAP High School.

The changes would take effect in September 2022. As many as 2,949 students could find themselves in different buildings. The board is expected to take action on the plan Nov. 16.

Enrollment has dropped in the district due largely to declining birth rates and a rise in school choice options. Board members received a report last week that shows about 16,000 of St. Paul’s school-aged children attended charter schools or used open enrollment to go to other districts in the 2019-20 school year.

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