Letters to the editor on holding back third-graders, picking judges, waterboarding, NRA, gun rights

01/25/2013 12:00 AM

01/24/2013 5:45 PM

Retaining students is wrong approach

Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed that pupils who aren’t reading at grade level at the end of the third grade be retained. As a professor of education for 30 school years, I am opposed to retaining pupils due to failing standardized test scores. The only exception would be if the parent and involved child agreed to being retained in the same grade. Otherwise, I believe flunking pupils to be a negative approach in teaching for several reasons:

•  The self-concept of the young pupil is deflated. Who wants to be known as a failure? Classmates then move on to the next grade level. Why not teach so that pupils feel successful?
•  Failing pupils might accumulate in a school or district as well as develop a culture of being useless and unworthy.
•  Possessing feelings of being a failure might carry on to life itself, to other curriculum areas, as well as to succeeding grade levels.

The recommendations by the governor come at a time when base state aid funding has greatly decreased. It costs money to teach reading well to all pupils, and it is difficult to do so when class sizes are large.

MARLOW EDIGER

North Newton

Seizure of power

Gov. Sam Brownback is attempting to change the top judicial system from a democracy to a dictatorship. Currently, nine people work together to recommend three qualified individuals, one of whom the governor then selects. The committee is made up of four non-attorneys appointed by the governor, four attorneys selected by attorneys in each of the four congressional districts, and a chairman elected by attorneys statewide.

What Brownback wants to establish is a single-selector process, and the governor would be the selector. The three branches of government were established so one group wouldn’t have total power. Changing how the Kansas Supreme Court is appointed requires a statewide vote, which could happen in April. This is a dangerous seizure of power and difficult to repeal. We urge you to contact your legislators and express your concern over this attempt to change the Kansas Constitution.

LOUISE SMITH

Hesston

BETH VANNATTA

Halstead

SHELLEY DUNHAM

Council Grove

OK to waterboard

I suggest that columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. contact the remaining survivors of the twin towers slaughter, and the families of those who did not survive, and ask them if they would have volunteered for waterboarding if it would have prevented the slaughter (“Question is whether torture is right,” Jan. 21 Opinion). If some jihadist gave him the option of being waterboarded or having his family and relatives beheaded, what would his choice be?

There is a world of difference between torture for punishment of a convicted criminal and mild to major discomfort used to save innocent lives, even if the wrong person is waterboarded in some cases.

R.D. RASH

Winfield

Not more guns

The National Rifle Association claims its membership is growing, but I no longer support it and have canceled my membership. More guns and bullets are not an answer. Its online commercial about our president’s children was sickening.

I still have my trusty 12-gauge pump for home defense, and, yes, I passed a background check. It has only three shells in it and none in the chamber. I do not need 30 (or thousands) of shells to defend my home. I do not take my gun outside my home.

Arming guards (or teachers) is stupid. Nobody can outdraw a cocked and loaded Glock or AR-15. And once you pull that trigger, you had better be right.

In 1986, I dumbly walked into a bank in the midst of a robbery. The two bad guys were armed but had not fired a shot; they only wanted money. They told me to get on the floor and I promptly complied. Moments later three cops entered the bank with guns blazing. At least eight shots were fired by the police with no return fire. One bad guy and one employee were injured. Scared the “L” out of me.

DON CLEVENGER

Wichita

Absolute right

Davis Merritt doesn’t seem to like the Second Amendment very much (“Time for 2nd Amendment absolutism is gone,” Jan. 22 Opinion). He seems to think the right of the people to keep and bear arms, as written in the Constitution, isn’t really an absolute right. He seems to think that if Congress, a consensus of the elite or a majority of journalists want to take away the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, they can do so with a snap of their fingers. And Merritt brands anyone who disagrees with him an “extremist.”

The right to keep and bear arms existed before the Constitution was written. Along with freedom of speech and religion, it was considered an inalienable right that was not given by the government, nor could it be taken away.

Since Merritt is such a fan of limiting our rights, let’s put limits on freedom of speech. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword, which makes it as dangerous as a gun in the wrong hands. I think journalists should be limited to one opinion column a year.

Merritt has had his for 2013. He has 11 months to prepare next year’s version.

JOHN T. BRYAN

Wichita

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