Letters to the Editor

November 19, 2013

Letters to the editor on Common Core, school funding, foster parents, ‘War on Thanksgiving,’ smoking

I love Common Core. That is a strong statement, but one that needs to be made.

Common Core is challenging kids

I love Common Core. That is a strong statement, but one that needs to be made.

Since the beginning of this year, all three of my children have brought home inquiry questions that they and their classmates have developed, researched and presented to the class. We have had more debate and discussion over these inquiry questions during evening dinners and car rides than over any other thing, ever. We have done additional research into other questions that have arisen during our discussions, which has led to more questions and discussion. My daughter’s eighth-grade class even presented its question and findings to my son’s fifth-grade class. My son’s comment was (gasp!): “It was better than recess.”

In this day of access to instant information, it is no longer imperative or even useful to spend time memorizing minor details. It is critical to be able to research, read, understand and ultimately interpret information, all critical-thinking skills.

Kudos to the teachers at Andover Middle School and Cottonwood Elementary School for embracing the Common Core standards and finding innovative ways to implement them and challenge our students’ brains. I am eagerly awaiting new inquiry questions.



Ignored facts

A letter complaining that the Kansas Supreme Court will once again “usurp” the Legislature’s authority if it finds that public schools are underfunded grossly misrepresented and even ignored the facts (“Stand up to court,” Nov. 15 Letters to the Editor). Those facts are that, in response to critics who say education has not been adequately funded in our state, the Legislature hired consultants to determine whether this was true. The consultants reported that education was underfunded by about $800 million. Not happy with that, the Legislature asked its own Legislative Division of Post Audit to look at funding. It decided that schools were underfunded by closer to $900 million.

Anyone with a lick of sense would say that lawmakers should address those findings and fix the problem. After all, they are the ones who hired these people. Instead, right-wingers are trying to bury the truth with vague arguments of constitutional authority sprinkled with hints of extortion while the extremists in the Legislature kick the can down the road, hoping that by doing so it will go away.



War on Thanksgiving

The “War on Christmas” pales in comparison with the “War on Thanksgiving.” Here it is more than a week before Thanksgiving, and many, perhaps most, stores already have Christmas displays in place. TV commercials show Christmas scenes and advertise Black Friday specials. Those commercials breathlessly proclaim that retailers will open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

Many houses have Christmas decorations not only in place, but fully lit. Some radio stations have begun playing Christmas music.

Clearly, Christmas has Thanksgiving on the run.

Now is the time to take a stand and put the “thanks” back in Thanksgiving. There still will be plenty of time for Christmas after Thanksgiving is over.



Didn’t make money

In response to an Opinion Line comment that foster parents shouldn’t receive money: My husband and I took care of foster children for several years. We never made a penny on it, but the government money made it possible.

I feel now, as I did then, that foster children are like your own but come with the ability to not put your family at financial risk, because all their bills are covered by the state.



Protect children

Fall is here and the holidays are around the corner. Another fall tradition happens Thursday: the Great American Smokeout. The goal for the smokeout is to get smokers to quit for one whole day, or at least try to cut down their smoking substantially. This year, let’s also think about protecting our children from tobacco use so they will never become smokers.

Tobacco use continues to be the No. 1 cause of preventable death in Kansas, killing more than 3,800 Kansans every year. More than 2,700 Kansas children become smokers each year, and 54,000 children alive today in Kansas ultimately will die from using tobacco products.

In addition to cigarettes and traditional spit tobacco, there are numerous other forms of new and emerging tobacco and nicotine products available on the market today. Many of these products look similar to small pieces of candy and come in flavors. Grape- and cherry-flavored tobacco cigarillos and hookah fruit-flavored tobacco are found in brightly wrapped packaging, clearly targeting youths. Nearly 90 percent of all adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18, and 23,500 high school students are smokers in Kansas today.

Let’s use this year’s Great American Smokeout to join together to protect our children from becoming the next statistic.



Tobacco Free Wichita Coalition


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