Letters to the Editor

March 2, 2014

Letters to the editor on public schools, Maize bond, social-media policy, Ike memorial, anti-gay bill, China and U.S. elites

All our Kansas children deserve the right to a high-quality K-12 public school education.

Support public school education

All our Kansas children deserve the right to a high-quality K-12 public school education.

All our Kansas children deserve the right to a safe and secure public school education.

All our Kansas children deserve the right to transportation to and from public school.

All our Kansas children deserve to be taught by the best public school instructors.

All our Kansas children deserve to be taught by the best public school instructors with the proper tools.

Our public school system as we know it today is in trouble, which will negatively affect our students’ education. Property taxes are going to increase while staff, staff salaries and programs will continue to be underfunded or cut. Alternative concepts including the charter school model are being discussed in Kansas government.

If you agree that the Kansas tax policy should be redesigned so that it is able to position all our Kansas K-12 students for success, then today is the time to let legislators know this. If you care about students in Kansas, reach out to your school boards today and seek out grassroots efforts to become a voice to our legislators.



Boundaries, bond

Nearly all districts in Kansas, and in the nation, establish boundaries to determine student placement. If boundaries work for the rest of the state and country, shouldn’t boundaries work in the Maize school district (“Group to present Maize school facilities options,” Feb. 24 Eagle)? What is so unique about USD 266? Establishing boundaries will work for current students, future students and families, and will accommodate future growth.

The lack of boundaries has affected a second decision facing USD 266 and its ability to manage growth.

Despite a flat enrollment, the district claims to need a new middle school, a new swimming facility and athletic field improvements. One study suggests no need for a new middle school if the district would simply combine grades K-6, an option the board recently eliminated.

The district already utilizes the Northwest YMCA facility for swimming. Spending $10 million for a natatorium seems a high price tag for an activity already facilitated.

Why limit the bond issue to just a pool? Why not build a bowling alley for the bowling teams, a dance studio for the dance teams and a forensics facility for the debate teams?

With the local and state economies in such a depressed state, shouldn’t the board be determining how to ease the burden on struggling families, not adding to it?



Chilling effect

The new Kansas Board of Regents policy restricting social-media freedom of expression for university faculty, if allowed to stand, will have a chilling effect on the functioning of higher education in Kansas. Already some faculty members are afraid to speak out against this edict because of fear of losing their jobs.

One purpose of these institutions is for staff to engage in critical thinking so as to enrich our society with their ideas. Their dialogues and expressions must of necessity reflect their expertise and points of view. The absence of their unfettered renditions in blogs and other forms of social media will result in a significant depletion in the shared pool of meaning that can be Kansas’ contribution to the world, also sidelining our academics from the creative growth process that takes place when they interact with others on the world stage of knowledge and freely speak their minds.

As a psychologist, I know that censorship of spoken words due to concern over offending the “powers that be” can lead to self-censorship of thoughts, an impoverishment of constructive reflections, and poorer job performance. Employees under such conditions will become defensive and less happy, and therefore less able to make a positive impression on their students and their field.

At a time when Kansas is attempting to woo companies and facilities from out of state, this in effect becomes another nail in our cultural coffin.


Bel Aire

China, U.S. elites

Regarding “Toxic smog engulfs swath of China” (Feb. 26 Eagle): The smog obscures much more than just China’s roads and the sun. It also conceals how the 5 percent of Chinese who are Communist Party members and the 1 percent U.S. elites who control trade “from the top” – major manufacturing and retail firms – have disregarded the interests of ordinary Chinese and Americans alike to line their own pockets and enlarge their power.

China’s ruling party leaders exploit the people’s labor to swell their balance of payments, but they will not use the cash to buy American equipment to mitigate their pollution – nor to provide safety equipment for coal miners who fuel their industry. As a result, China suffers 80 percent of global coal-mining fatalities.

U.S. corporate moguls have replaced “Made in USA” with “Made in China” products on store shelves to increase their profit margins, at the cost of jobs for U.S. workers. So U.S. unemployment has ballooned, which means that Americans increasingly can’t afford to buy. And U.S. government deficits and borrowing have skyrocketed, because unemployed people can’t pay taxes. Our “tax by inflation” will likewise increase.

The question is whether the ruling 1 percenters in the U.S. and China’s ruling party will figure out that in the long run this just won’t work. Or do they already understand that and just not care?



Intrepid pioneers

I would like to congratulate those who voted in favor of House Bill 2453. They are intrepid pioneers in protecting religious freedom in Kansas.

I suggest they seize the political moment and add some new features to this groundbreaking legislation. Let’s show the rest of this great nation that Kansas is on the cutting edge.

Let’s amend the bill to allow restaurants to turn away patrons based on their perceived sexual orientation. We want to reserve our lunch counters for upright, moral citizens only.

It would also help if extra drinking fountains could be installed in public places, so those of us who are committed to our faith won’t be forced to drink water from the same spigot as those who are an affront to it.

Another positive step would be to ensure seats on public transit systems would go first to the honorable individuals among us. Those who lack character should sit in the back or stand.

And let’s not forget about the children. Let’s make a law mandating separate schools for those who are sexually deviant.

Again, I commend the members of the House for the important work they are doing to protect decent, upstanding Kansans like me. In no way have their actions been a shameful and unconscionable rewinding of 50 years of progress.



Appraisal skewed

Columnist Steve Paul wrote that “a long-distance appraisal is rarely advised” (“Reboot Ike memorial,” Feb. 23 Opinion). Truer words were never spoken. And if such an appraisal is undertaken, it should be done with consideration, a level playing field and facts.

Paul presented an incomplete, unbalanced and inaccurate view of the memorial to President Eisenhower. Instead of contacting the Eisenhower Memorial Commission and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, and conducting responsible research to check his facts, Paul hung his hat on a skewed, partisan, one-sided view of the memorial design.

Paul cited the beliefs of one of the most militant critics of the Eisenhower Memorial, who is neither an authority nor a technical expert on the memorial’s maintenance. The information was false and incomplete.

I urge readers to go to eisenhowermemorial.gov and decide for themselves, as thousands of Kansans did the past two years at the Kansas State Fair, whether or not they like Ike’s memorial.


Executive director

Eisenhower Memorial Commission

Washington, D.C.

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