Archive for Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Letters to the editor

January 23, 2002

To the editor:

Our children in Kansas are a small percentage of our population but are 100 percent of our future. What must our state legislators be thinking when they not only balk at funding public education at a realistic and meaningful level, but are even considering cutting funding?

When I hear a legislator pound his or her chest about how great they are by having cut the general fund levy that was a state median of 56 mills in the 1991-1992 school year to the current 20 mills we have now, it makes my blood boil. This is great for the taxpayers in wealthy districts but for the average and poor districts in Kansas this has meant implementing the dreaded "local option budget." This is on the backs of taxpayers who can't afford it rather than those that can. The LOB is killing the districts and causing the local patrons to revolt. Their problem is that their anger is misdirected. They should be furious with their local legislator and not at the local school board. They need to make it clear to their legislator that they either state fund public schools so our Kansas students are provided with the very best possible education or they will be voted out of office.

Our bright minds coming out of college can't afford to teach our children. The bright minds are being taken by the private sector at much higher pay. We are even losing great current teachers because they can't afford to have a home and family on what we can pay them. When did society stop caring about these people, their families and what impact they have on our children as well as our cities., counties, state and country? As I grow closer to retirement, I want the best-educated kids coming out of our schools. If not, our economy will suffer even more and Social Security may not be there.

A few districts may be top heavy with administrators but for the vast majority of districts this is not the case. I have been a financial advisor in Kansas for 30 years and I am amazed at how well run our districts are considering the shoestring we provide them to work with.

Some want vouchers for private schools. Vouchers are not fair because private schools are not under the same mandates as public schools and those children are not counted in for taxes. Overall, it would make taxes go up.

When I hear people say, "My taxes are too high," I fully understand what they are saying, yet the one area we can't afford to cut corners is in education. Your future depends upon it whether you have children, grandchildren in school or not.

We have to support the children before it is too late. As an old ad used to say, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Please stop and think about the children's future and yours, don't let apathy continue. Contact your legislator and tell them to either get on board for education or you will put them off come election day. Education doesn't cost, it pays!

John C. McArthur

Meriden, Kansas

To the editor:

Today as I write this we honor Martin Luther King Jr., a good day to address community activism. Mr. Mueller's letter brings up some important issues. Most people are not dancing for joy because McDonald's is finally here. We know that's not what places Baldwin City on the map. Many people are asking how it happened.

We wonder how most of the rampant growth our city is enduring occurs. We are overwhelmed at the rate of progress we are witnessing. It often seems like developers have access to pulling the strings and the citizens don't even know it's happening until the buildings are going up and/or the trees are coming down. The city council's closed door sessions and decision to uphold the hush-hush on the police department scandal (?) only adds to its citizenry's sense of feeling left out of the loop.

It is difficult to formulate informed opinions because information isn't easy to access. This kind of environment only breeds suspicion and perpetuates the rumor mill mentality that hinders our ability to develop a shared vision for our town. We need to know our elected officials value their constituent's perspectives. We need to feel involved in the process. We need more citizen reviews. We need to feel that as residents of Baldwin City we have as much or more to offer than the developers that come through and leave us with the blight of phone towers and fast food complexes. We need to vote for officials that are dedicated to insuring that our local and national history is as important as new housing stock. We need to accept that growth is inevitable. We also need to help regulate and define the ways our city grows.

Don't like feeling uninformed? Insist on access to information. Don't like what's being displayed on your school marquee (currently in violation of separation of church and state statutes)? Call your school superintendent and let him know. Don't like corporate fast food chains? Vote with your dollars and support your downtown merchants.

Solutions? Suggestions? How about a city Web site that keeps us up to date on planning issues and city commission agendas? How about creating a tree board that is committed to insuring our city is true to its namesake the Maple Leaf? Get involved. Go to city council meetings. Call your city council members and insist that you, Jane and John Q. Public, have a right to know what's going on.

Martin Luther King would have said it is our duty as citizens to become involved, to speak out, to serve on boards, and if the occasion calls for it, to peacefully, but loudly, protest. Voicing unpopular opinions are often historically what lead to true progress.

Fadra Andrews Mitchell

Baldwin City

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