Letters to the Editor

Letters on foster care task force, media agenda, privatizing services, public health, obituary photos

Include social workers on foster care task force

Why are we proposing to send legislators to oversee a program they mostly have no experience in? House Bill 2585 calls for a foster care oversight task force (17 members) to examine what is happening within the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the foster care program.

Social work is a multidisciplinary field that coordinates and works with a myriad of other professions. I’m not proposing to make the task force of only social workers. I am just urging that we include some social workers, perhaps with experience in foster care, on the task force.

Yes, there are issues with foster care in the state of Kansas that need to be addressed. However, with any other profession would we send in folks who have not been educated in the field to determine what is going wrong?

Kalynn Cheyney, Wichita

Promoting an agenda

Balance in media is not just about providing more than one view in stories; new information should also be shared as it becomes available.

This time last year, media were full of school district claims that funding was being reduced from the promised levels for the 2015 school year. But when the Kansas State Department of Education released final results in the fall showing that funding increased and set new records, where were those stories? Average per-pupil funding last year was $13,124, and even set a record without including pension funding.

Lots of stories were published about state budget cuts, but how many newspapers, TV and radio stations reported that general fund spending set another record at $6.2 billion last year?

Media repeat the Kansas Association of School Boards’ claims that student achievement is among the best in the nation, but they ignored the January press release from Education Week, which gave Kansas a “D” for student achievement. Polls showing support for Medicaid expansion and higher school spending often are front-page news, but polls by Kansas Policy Institute and others showing Kansans want to vote on property tax increases, expect schools to operate efficiently, and want teachers to be able to vote to decide whether to retain a union never see the light of day.

Legislators have been criticized for not introducing a new school funding system, but the new system introduced in House Bill 2741 on March 23 was ignored by media until recently.

Media should be balanced, but this pattern of behavior amounts to promoting an agenda.

Dave Trabert, Overland Park

President, Kansas Policy Institute

Don’t privatize services

Kansas Policy Institute president Dave Trabert, who knows nothing about educating children, thinks USD 259 should privatize its supplemental services (March 23 Eagle). That’s a terrible idea.

The city of Wichita privatized some of its maintenance services, and the quality of the work has suffered.

KanCare privatization provides lower-quality services than when Medicaid was under public management.

Westar Energy, providing what was once considered a public utility, often raises its rates in order to make its stockholders happy.

Companies that run private prisons may scrimp on meals and other services to inmates. Guards get paid so little that it’s difficult to get anyone to apply for the job, all in the name of the bottom line.

Companies want to make a profit off Kansas taxpayers. This is the purpose of privatizing public services, including schools. That was tried once in Wichita with the failed Edison experiment. Schools aren’t businesses and can’t be run like businesses.

In the meantime, as the school district has to lay off workers to meet budget constraints, the unemployment rate will rise in Kansas. Is this good economics?

Diane Wahto, Wichita

Thankful for public health

For the past year, I’ve had the privilege of working in public health. I graduated from medical school last May and ended up having a “gap year” between school and the beginning of my residency training.

During this time, my eyes have been opened to an entire network of people who are working behind the scenes to make our city a healthier place. These folks have the same ultimate goal that I have as a primary care physician: to enable people to live healthier and, hopefully, more fulfilling lives. But where I will treat a patient’s individual symptoms and disease processes, public health workers are tackling chronic disease management and prevention at the community level.

With the current evidence showing that team-based care produces better outcomes, it is a natural fit for these two groups to be collaborating. My hope is that joint efforts between health providers and public health professionals will someday become the standard of care in Wichita; I definitely plan on doing my part.

In light of National Public Health Week, I’d like to thank all local public health professionals for their dedication to making health a priority in our community.

Phil Montgomery, Wichita

Use a recent photo

It is an insult to loved ones and the public when families submit a “used to look like this” obituary picture instead of one taken recently. Yes, we have to agree that your loved one was beautiful or handsome when graduating from school or in a military uniform, but now is reality time.

Marlene Parret, Clearwater

Letters to the Editor

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