The latest assault on public education
Another weapon has been launched in what appears to be an all-out assault on public education in Kansas. Substitute for House Bill 2292, which could eliminate Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs (Feb. 19 Eagle), is just the latest in a long series of actions taken by the current administration in Topeka to gut the public schools.
Starving the schools by chronic underfunding and insulting teachers by questioning their professional right to choose instructional materials are familiar tactics. The latest effort by Kansas lawmakers attempts yet again to repeal Common Core standards, using a sneaky procedural maneuver that avoided public input.
The bill could also threaten AP and IB programs. These programs offer college-bound students an enriched education, and eliminating them would be yet-another strike against our state’s erstwhile reputation for excellence in education.
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House Bill 2457 has not been front-page news (Feb. 9 Eagle). That bill would expand private school tuition tax credits significantly. The legislation passed in 2014 applied to at-risk students in public schools and gave a 70 percent tax credit to individuals and businesses donating to scholarships. The 2016 proposal increases the tax credit and, as amended in committee, makes the program available to students we think of as middle class (income of about $45,000 for a family of four).
It doesn’t take a whole lot of connecting the dots to suspect that these add up to part of the arsenal in the war on public education being waged by Gov. Sam Brownback and his minions.
Delphine (Del) Smith, Wichita
New model for care?
Robert Litan made an interesting case in favor of “concierge care” as a model for primary health care delivery (“Local entrepreneur reshaping health care,” Feb. 12 Opinion). It definitely seems intuitive that a close relationship between patient and primary physician should lead to better and more efficient care. However, several issues were not addressed in his commentary.
How are procedures that go beyond the scope of the practice handled? It seems that the concierge doctor will still have to refer the patient to other practitioners, clinics or hospitals. Presumably this will mean that the patient will still have to have full insurance coverage and pay the full deductible at the referral level. This leads to additional expense to the patient.
I would suggest that there is a solution to this problem: Find a way to provide a discount for the insurance deductible in recognition of the fact that primary care is provided outside of the insurance system. Such a combination of concierge care and catastrophic insurance might create a system that can provide for all of a patient’s needs.
Ben Huie, Wichita
Move to new energy
The Jan. 29 Eagle offered two articles presenting very different futures for Kansas. “Kan. court ponders greenhouse gas limits for coal plant” reported the continuing saga of legislators and Sunflower Electric Power Corp. yearning to build another monument outside Holcomb to yesterday’s utility model – a model that foists unmanageable costs of fossil fuel on society and on the future we want to build for our children. The other article, “Kansas adds more wind farms in 2015,” was an accounting of wind-energy growth, which in one year added almost as much capacity as planned at Holcomb.
The wind turbines are the new utility model – electricity without fuel, without coal trains going one way and Kansas dollars the other, and without adding carbon dioxide that will persist long into our children’s future.
We can make the move from old energy to new. We can do it without an economic slowdown, without punishing consumers, and without adding new government spending or bureaucracy. By collecting a revenue-neutral price on carbon emissions, dividing it equally among us, we grow the economy while markets move us from the future in the first article to the clean one in the second.
Darrel Hart, Wichita
Cameras improve conduct
The Wichita Police Department is using state-of-the-art technology. Body cameras help ensure proper conduct, which means positive outcomes for all. Behavior of civilians and police is improved when there is a camera present.
I’m happy again to call Wichita my home.
Albert Garrett, Wichita
I had the opportunity Saturday, along with friends, to spend the day at the Orpheum Theatre watching live-action, animated and documentary short films nominated for Academy Awards.
Thanks to the Wichita Public Library and the Orpheum for providing the chance to see short films competing for Academy Awards. It is the 30th year the library has done this.
My major challenge in viewing these shorts from many countries, each presenting major issues, is how to vote for a favorite among five in each category. I found four of five in each section to be top-notch.
The Wichita Public Library will provide more screenings at branches Thursday (http://www.wichitalibrary.org/academyawards) and at the west-side Warren Theatre at 10 a.m. Saturday.
This free opportunity, provided to people in Wichita and surrounding cities, is most outstanding.
Doris Weller, Wichita
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