Letters to the editor on supporting teachers, civil service jobs, robbing Social Security, sustainable planning, wind energy
03/04/2013 5:31 PM
03/04/2013 5:31 PM
Kansas teachers need our support
Throughout our state’s history, Kansans have proudly supported education. We have been known as a state with excellent public schools and universities. We did not shy away from our responsibilities as a state to educate our young. We understood that we were making an investment in the future of our communities and state.
But new legislation would curtail Kansas teachers’ ability to negotiate, which will silence the voice of our children’s needs in the classroom. Teachers do not negotiate as a bargaining unit for only salaries. It is through the negotiating process that class size is kept to a reasonable number. It is through the negotiating process that concerns are addressed for additional staff for safety on the playground or coaches on the field. New textbooks or instructional materials for our children are negotiated. No one knows better than our classroom teachers what our children need to be successful students.
Regardless of our different political party affiliations, we all sat in classroom desks at one time or another in our lives. Most of us can recall at least one teacher or coach who never gave up on our ability to succeed. Those teachers need us now. It is our turn to support them.
Kansas legislators are preparing a bill as “the first step in an effort to phase out the Kansas Civil Service Act” (Feb. 22 Local & State). The use of civil service examinations – which replaced inheritance and political patronage with merit as the basis for hiring and promotion in government agencies – began in China under the Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty about 2,000 years ago.
The system did not spread to Europe until the 16th century; it reached Britain in 1853 and the United States in 1883. Now, virtually all countries have civil service systems.
But, hey – time for a change. Time to appoint judges and public servants that our own emperor likes, uncluttered by silly ideas of merit. Way to go, Kansas.
DOROTHY K. BILLINGS
Don’t rob funds
Regarding David Brooks’ commentary “Nation needs to go back to focusing on future” (Feb. 14 Opinion): Brooks pointed out that beginning with the Europeans who settled in America, each generation of immigrants has sacrificed the present for the future. I believe the members of our current American senior generation have sacrificed even more, as they also had World War II to fight. Now Brooks seems to think they should sacrifice even more by having money they paid into Social Security and Medicare be used to support other programs.
For years, a good portion of that money has been taken by our representatives to cover shortages in other areas. That is what Gov. Sam Brownback also has in mind by merging the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the Kansas Department of Transportation, so the state can use turnpike money to cover shortages in other departments.
It is time for our representatives to start doing the jobs they were voted in to do, and to find other means to support their spending ways. Also, it would be especially helpful if some of them got over the loss of the presidential election and started supporting our president and working for solutions.
The introduction of House Bill 2366 by state Rep. Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, is a wake-up call to the citizens of Kansas, and especially the people of Wichita whom Hedke is supposed to represent. By the wording of this bill, which would prohibit any public money from being used to plan for or promote sustainable development, it is very clear who, or I should say “what,” Hedke works for in our Legislature.
I’m speaking of the at least 18 energy companies that are his business clients. No one representing real people would ever write a bill that specifically denies our tax-dollar support of development that preserves resources for our offspring.
The people of Kansas must reject HB 2366, and any other legislation that is sourced unethically. We must also call out those who clearly abuse their positions, such as Hedke has done with this bill.
“Wind facts” (Feb. 15 Letters to the Editor) compared current cost estimates of the Kansas renewable portfolio standard to the findings from studies by my organization, leading to an incorrect conclusion. Our estimates are for 2020, when the RPS requires that 20 percent of energy come from a renewable source, while current estimates are for the 10 percent requirement.
When the law was passed in 2009, wind generated about 7.5 percent of retail sales, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This makes the current 10 percent requirement relatively easy to attain. But moving from 10 to 20 percent is exponentially more difficult. That’s because prime locations are occupied by existing wind farms, and the necessity for backup generation increases.
One area where our study differs from others is that we account for backup renewable generation, which increases the price of wind energy. Also, we account for the opportunity cost of mandating more expensive forms of electricity. When these costs are included, wind is simply more costly than other forms of electricity.
Beacon Hill Institute