Daily Archives: May 23, 2011

Kobach promotes voter ID law, himself

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach promoted Kansas’ new voter ID law in a commentary in today’s Wall Street Journal, noting how the law is stricter than any other state’s and how it was “drafted by my office.” Kobach wrote that “in Kansas, 221 incidents of voter fraud were reported between 1997 and 2010.” He didn’t clarify that these were claims of fraud, not actual violations. Sedgwick County officials reviewed the local claims and determined that nearly all of them were either groundless or were honest mistakes by voters and their families, not fraud. Kobach also emphasized how “fear that elections are being stolen erodes the legitimacy of our government.” But whose fault it that? Kobach scares people into believing there is rampant voter fraud, then uses that fear to justify new laws.

Memphis school bucked odds

At a time when urban school districts seem to only make news for their epic failure, Memphis’ Booker T. Washington High School has people talking about its success. The school, where President Obama recently delivered the commencement address, is 100 percent African-American, with 98 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch. But in the past several years its graduation rate has risen from 55 to 82 percent, its rate of college-bound seniors has gone from 4 to 70 percent, and its math scores are 20 percent higher than the state average. One interesting reform linked to such success: separate freshmen academies for boys and girls.

Moderate lawmakers still relevant in Topeka

Despite pronouncements to the contrary, moderate Republican lawmakers are still relevant in Topeka, according to Bernie Koch of the Kansas Economic Progress Council. Koch noted that, though their numbers are few, moderate Republicans were key to the state budget passing the Kansas House. “Without their support, the Kansas Legislature might still be at the Statehouse,” Koch wrote last week. He also said that moderate Republicans were somewhat isolated this session by House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson. “Will that isolation end now that they supported him, while the more conservative elements of the party proved somewhat troublesome?” Koch asked.

Grandparents have new protections

One positive new law that didn’t get much attention during the legislative session was a change championed by state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, that will help protect the rights of grandparents during child custody cases. Senate Bill 23 allows grandparents to serve as interested parties in court proceedings when a child has been removed from home. “Nearly 18,000 Kansas grandparents are the primary caregiver to their grandchildren. . . . As more and more grandparents open up their homes and hearts to their grandchildren,” Faust-Goudeau said, “we must make sure that a system is in place to support them.”