Letters to the editor on being critical, Kansas Supreme Court

11/15/2013 12:00 AM

11/14/2013 5:35 PM

Becoming experts at being critical

I fear that we are becoming a nation of rather simple-minded whiners, critics and fault-finders, fueled by the omnipresent media messages that tend to accentuate the negative. We are prompted to whine about what we do not have, criticize those who are enjoying what we desire, and find fault with everyone and everything inconsistent with our personal values and principles.

Educators have always placed a high value on critical thinking, and all of us have been introduced to the basic skills assumed by this process. A working definition of critical thinking is “disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence.”

As I browse the various sources of information available in media common to the most of us, I am hard pressed to find that very many reporters are exercising this process of thinking before speaking. On a point-of-view spectrum, conservative to liberal, I recently heard the same issue being discussed by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, to name only four. My head was spinning as I tried to decipher the truth, the observable, the facts, or the incontrovertible evidence that was being applied to the conclusions so confidently espoused.

After this experience, I am no longer surprised that we have become far more expert with being critical than with practicing critical thinking.



Stand up to court

It appears the Kansas Supreme Court is going to usurp the Legislature’s authority once again and dictate how much money must be spent by Kansas taxpayers on public school education.

Clearly this power was delegated in the Kansas Constitution solely to the Legislature, but the Supreme Court thinks it can be a “legislature” as well, even though its members are not elected by Kansas citizens nor accountable to them.

So here’s a suggestion for Kansas legislators: If the Supreme Court starts acting like a legislature, sell the Kansas Judicial Center and move the Supreme Court into the basement of the Capitol building.

I’m sure lawmakers have checked out the funding for schools as best as possible, given that there is no standard accounting practicing for all the schools of Kansas. They are also elected by voters and held accountable for their actions every two years. So their recognition of the needs of various school districts, of teachers, of students, and, most importantly, of parents is significantly greater than any knowledge of any member of the Supreme Court.

So tell the Supreme Court to mind its constitutional business and let the Legislature take care of its constitutional business – which, by the way, has to do with allocation of properties and budgets for all the courts in Kansas.



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