Daily Archives: Dec. 2, 2013

Being like Texas could be costly

texasBeing more like Texas, as Gov. Sam Brownback wants, could mean much higher property taxes and fewer services, Emporia State University professor Michael A. Smith warns. Major Texas cities have among the highest property-tax rates in the nation. And even with all its oil and gas revenue, Texas ranks 40th in per-pupil education funding and leads the nation in the percentage of people without health insurance.

Headlight scofflaws put others at risk

fogcarsA frustrating number of area drivers failed to switch on their headlights in Monday morning’s fog. Maybe they could see without difficulty, or so they assumed, but they made it challenging for other drivers to see and avoid them. Using headlights in fog isn’t just common sense. It’s also in state law, which calls for lighted head and other lamps whenever, “due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, including smoke or fog, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead.” Since 2006, Kansans also have been required to use headlights “when windshield wipers are in continuous use as a result of rain, sleet or snow” – another law too often ignored.

Open thread (Dec. 2)

thread

Pope also concerned about unfair economic policies

popefrancisPope Francis is not only calling on Catholics to focus less on social issues and more on caring for the poor, he is critical of economic policies that hold the poor down. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” the pope wrote in a new treatise. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.” Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson noted how these views are in sharp contrast with those of some U.S. politicians who “are determined to keep the poor from receiving health care, food assistance, housing subsidies and a host of other benefits” and who consider income inequality a virtue.

Nice progress on graduation rates

mortarboardThere is still room for improvement in USD 259’s graduation rate of 76.5 percent, which lags the state average of 86 percent. But the district is moving in the right direction, having brought up the rate from 63.1 percent four years ago. With the help of special programs that engage and support students, the Wichita district has been able to help more Hispanic males (up 30 percent) and African-American males (up 24 percent) reach the finish line since 2009 during a time when state per-pupil funding has been cut. Well done.