Shouldn’t suppress young minds
One thing that has always bothered me a great deal are uninformed attempts to suppress inquisitive young minds by banning “controversial” books, striking down polarizing curricula, or limiting freedom of expression that doesn’t fit our norm. I’ve always been of the opinion that knowledge is the best tool at our disposal.
So it was distressing to see that outrage over a social media posting forced the Wichita school district to take down a bulletin board display featuring the five pillars of Islam as part of a comparative religion study at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary School (Aug. 20 Eagle).
Young minds are often more open and receptive to critical thought than some of our aging brains. State Rep. Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, said about the Minneha incident: “If you’re going to talk about Islam and make it sound like it’s another of those religions that needs to be understood and contemplated by mankind, there’s a serious misunderstanding” (Aug. 21 Eagle Editorial). Obviously, Hedke’s mind is closed to some important questions.
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How does suppressing the study and understanding of the religion of about one-fourth of the world’s population, the majority of whom are not radicals, help our case? Aren’t we trying to expose our youths to all the knowledge they might need to critically consider the many facets of a problem?
WILLIAM C. SKAER
What a way to start the school year. Students and teachers enter their classrooms excited to begin another year, and what do they get? A “scandal” created by people who don’t seem to understand the purpose of education in general, let alone the mission of Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary School in particular (Aug. 20 Eagle).
I’m sorry the school had to take down its display depicting the five pillars of Islam. I hope it will be able to replace it soon. The school staff and students know better than many adults that learning about different religions is a great way to move toward a peaceful world. They know that pretending religion doesn’t exist is a prescription for ignorance and bigotry later in life. They know that learning about a religion is not the same thing as believing. And the teachers know that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right of public schools to provide education about religion at the same time that it rightly prohibits proselytizing.
So when it’s time to do the unit on Islam later this fall – just like when the school does units on Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism – students shouldn’t let the bullies intimidate them from learning. They’re afraid because they don’t know any better. The students can be brave because they have knowledge.
No easy fix
I appreciated The Eagle editorial about foster care in Kansas (“Just a coincidence?” Aug. 18 Opinion) and the response from Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore (“Foster-care link unfounded,” Aug. 21 Opinion). The child-welfare system and the families of children served by it are complex. The economic downturn and the cutbacks in some services provided by the state will affect families and children negatively. But Gilmore is correct in saying we should not oversimplify cause and effect.
Child welfare is the interaction of more than just economic factors: health, mental health, substance abuse, criminal justice, domestic violence, military activity, and other trauma to parents and children. What are trends in these areas? Do the caseworkers employed by contractors have much face-to-face time with families, especially given high caseloads and mandatory paperwork? How do local judges determine whether children should be removed? So much is involved.
Our organization, the Kansas Family Advisory Network, is run by birth, foster and adoptive families who would like to see positive changes in the child-welfare system. We work with child- and family-serving agencies to present a family voice to an otherwise legal, sometimes bureaucratic, and often politically driven system that can be a nightmare in families’ lives. Please listen to family voices.
Kansas Family Advisory Network
Build new library
The new library needs to be centrally located for all patrons, not just the people in west Wichita. The main library has vast amounts of material that can’t be checked out and is used at the library.
In doing research, you have to park in the long-term parking at Century II. Depending on what is going on, you may have to park far away. If you are taking materials of your own to work with, the distance and the weather play an important part in when and if you can go.
There is a lot of additional material that could be used, but for lack of space it is stored elsewhere.
I think we should use the plans developed by the library board and staff, as they know the system and the people who use it. If something is in Oklahoma City or someplace else, it doesn’t mean it is good for the people of Wichita. Other people who take trips to look at other systems are suddenly experts on what the design should look like and want to change things.
Money can be found for all kinds of other projects, and the library just gets pushed in the corner. Let’s build it downtown in the place where the city has the land. Do it right and do it now.
KENNETH L. MILLER
Afraid it will work
In reading about the panel discussion last week with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and several of our Kansas members of Congress (Aug. 20 Eagle), I was struck by the fact that they were afraid Obamacare would work too well, not that it would fail.
Another thing that struck me was the lack of facts they had, such as about how much insurance rates may rise. The facts are that several of the states that are opening health-insurance exchanges are seeing rate drops of 20 to 50 percent.
These are facts, and we might be seeing them in Kansas if our governor had not sent back $31 million to help set up exchanges. He is also refusing to implement the Medicaid expansion that would give health insurance to low-income Kansans, saving lives. You can die from lack of health care.
Our governor is preparing to run for president in 2016 and must be sure that there is nothing to cast doubt on his conservative credentials, even at the cost of the lives of Kansas’ poor.
I looked at the headline “Bill would let utilities buy credits from other states” (Aug. 8 Eagle) and wondered what that meant. As I read on, the article explained: “The bill would allow Kansas utilities to comply with state renewable-energy standards by purchasing credits – not actual power – from hydroelectric plants in the west, rather than investing the money directly in Kansas wind energy.” The article added: “That could cause the state to lose the environmental, economic and employment benefits of companies building and operating wind farms in rural Kansas.”
Who wants this done? The American Legislative Exchange Council, that’s who. And what is ALEC? It’s a group of business lawmakers who gather, in private, to produce model legislative bills for our state government to adopt. Often, their proposals are adopted “practically word for word.”
This action is, if not fraudulent, almost anti-American. It robs Kansas of opportunities and income; it robs the world of natural resources; and it makes Kansas a lackey, paying tribute to “richer” states.
ALEC is no friend of mine, nor of Kansas. I’ll take conservation over “conservatives.”