Letters to the editor on going backward on schools, images of young black men, GM food labels, Pompeo

04/25/2014 12:00 AM

04/24/2014 5:32 PM

School reforms a step backward

With the passage of the school-finance bill, conservative legislators have suddenly become education experts. They tout that the educational reforms they passed will help students. I say: Show me the numbers that support this.

As an educator for 35 years, I can tell you that none of the policy changes will impact students positively.

For example, just because someone has a degree in a subject doesn’t mean he can teach it to students. Teachers must obtain a bachelor’s degree in their subject area, a teaching degree, and successfully pass student teaching before they can be certified to go into the classroom. It takes a very special person to teach students as well as a huge amount of knowledge in classroom management. College students learn very quickly that this profession is not for everyone.

To take away these requirements is definitely a step backward. To illustrate this, I would invite all legislators to substitute teach in their area of “expertise” for one week in the district they represent. I guarantee most won’t make it past lunch on the very first day.

TIMOTHY P. SEGUINE

Wichita

Rare images

I hope Mark McCormick, executive director of the Kansas African American Museum, won’t mind my restating some of what he wrote recently in the Community Voice newspaper. I was so moved, I couldn’t sit still and not write about it.

In referring to the 2014 Links’ Beautillion leadership program, McCormick painfully and painstakingly pointed out that mainstream media don’t seem to care about “young black men competing for academic awards” and “delivering brilliant oratory.” He highlighted their bright futures, and how they were wrapped in the obvious love of their parents, grandparents and mentors: rare images. He said that maybe if such images of young black men “were projected more widely, our society could stop building prisons and digging graves for them.”

McCormick cited a recent National Public Radio story about a UCLA study titled, “The Essence of Innocence: The Consequences of Dehumanizing Black Children.” This study showed, among other disturbing things, that black boys are 18 times more likely than white boys to be tried as adults for the same offense. And those trials and surrounding circumstances get plenty of news coverage.

But imagine a society where there is a concerted effort to reduce the frequency of these offenses and raise the hopes for a better life for young people. What if there were more support for programs like the Links’ Beautillion, including notice from the media? What if those brilliant, upstanding young men got at least as much attention as those who gave up hope and resorted to violence? What if?

SHARON HILL CRANFORD

Wichita

Right to know

Two years ago, I might have wondered what all the fuss was about genetically modified foods, when everything I read about them said they were safe. Then, in October 2012, my 34-year-old son was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma and told he had eight months to a year to live. Because medical science could offer no hope, our lives – and his – have been a crash course in nutrition.

We learned that since 1996, when biotechnology got between Americans and their food, rates of allergies, cancer, autism, diabetes, obesity, and numerous other diseases and discomforts have soared. Every grandparent I know has a grandchild with an allergy, a sensitivity or even a behavior issue that can be alleviated by eliminating certain foods from the diet – foods that never used to cause such widespread maladies.

Whether genetic engineering of foods is correlation or causation, Americans are questioning food safety and insisting on being able to purchase organic and non-genetically modified food products. In order to make these decisions, it is crucial to have all of the information about what we are eating.

The willingness of U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, to give the Food and Drug Administration “sole authority to label genetically modified foods” (April 13 Opinion) is of concern because the FDA represents the interests of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto and Koch Industries, which have lobbied to defeat state-by-state initiatives on genetically modified foods.

If Pompeo really wanted to do what is right by Americans, he would sponsor a bill that requires such labeling nationwide. We have a right to know.

FREDA BRIGGS

El Dorado

Appreciate Pompeo

U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, has worked tirelessly to create jobs and reduce regulatory barriers to business. Nowhere is this more evident than with the legislation he authored known as the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, which will reduce costs and increase safety for light aircraft manufacturers. This piece of legislation was unanimously passed by the Senate and House, then signed into law by President Obama in November. What a great example of working across party lines to achieve a good outcome for all.

Pompeo also has been a key figure in the location of the new KC-46A tankers at McConnell Air Force Base, assuring the future of the base and a positive impact on the local economy. His military experience, beginning with graduating first in his class at West Point, has made him one of the top military experts in Congress. Today he is helping to keep America safe with his service on the House Intelligence Committee. I appreciate his service to our country and our state.

BOB DOOL

Chairman

Sedgwick County Republican Party

Wichita

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