Kansas, Politics

We’ve written many times before on the strange and damaging policy decisions being made regarding education in the state. So, it was no surprise when the following two articles passed by in the course of a day. I’m trying to decide if we just feign surprise over this or prepare yet one more “I told you” rant. First, from KSHB:

According to data released by Kansas State Department of Education, at least 3,720 Kansas teachers have left the state, retired or taken jobs outside of education after this past school year, a huge jump from the 2,150 who did so just a couple of years ago. Over 3,700 teachers in Kansas have retired or left the state during the summer, KSHB

That was yesterday. Then first thing this morning we get this next piece from The Joplin Globe. It has some more viewpoints on the damage to teaching and education that Kansas is seeing. Again, none of this is surprising to anyone with common sense. And the worst part is it’s much easier to damage than it is to repair. It’s not just students today that will suffer, but the ones that enter school a decade from now. Even if we fix issues and correct policy, we now have a stigma that will take much longer to shake thanks to Brownback.

Pittsburg State University College of Education Dean Howard Smith said enrollment in teacher education, which has trended downward in the past few years, supports that.

“Based on informal data, it’s true. I talk to students when they’re coming in and when they’re graduating,” Smith said. “It appears to be due to a lot of variables: shrinking budgets, additional requirements, and they’re reading that stuff. The posts on Facebook — they see that.” Kansas sees shrinking pool of teachers; Missouri shows gains in out-of-state hires, The Joplin Globe

I think one of the most telling things is that at this time of the year, schools still have around 500 open teaching jobs at a time when there’d only be about 100. In an era where we talk so much about how hard it is to find jobs, especially ones in more specialized areas, it’s a scary bellwether when you see a trend like that where we can’t hardly beg teachers to fill the openings.

Here are plenty more articles:

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Current Events, Kansas, Politics

In an act of defiance of the recent same-sex marriage ruling, many Kansas counties are refusing to (or at least haven’t) issue marriage certificates still. This isn’t at all surprising, actually. It is, however, very sad. First, agree or disagree, the courts are beholden to the SCOTUS decision. There is a process in place if they disagree, but actively defying supremacy in the matter isn’t one of them (this absent a discussion of state nullification or if SCOTUS is guilty of overreach, which is something we could talk about, but doesn’t change what should happen short-term). While the argument over the matter continues, the courts are obligated to operate as instructed in the matter unless further change is made.

But the second issue is the most important: How exactly are we supposed to afford the cost of the lawsuits that will inevitably be filed that the state will absolutely lose? To prove… what? Exactly?

Marriage-Licenses-by-County-6-26-2015b

*NOTE: Chautauqua and Montgomery counties are now issuing marriage certificates as well.

http://eqks.org/meanwhile-in-kansas-the-struggle-continues/

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Politics

You know, it’s simultaneously humorous and very scary to me how people view me in discussions. When engaging conservatives, I’m apparently anti-religion (I’m not), or communist (I’m definitely not), or just extreme-liberal (I’m most definitely not). Yet when I hold my liberal friends to the same standard of discussion, I’m “hurting the cause” or “not a real Democrat” (okay, this one might be true) or a conservative in disguise. I work really hard to always hear both sides of discussions, and make sure people consider contrary viewpoints, because contrary doesn’t mean the same thing as “wrong.” Understanding where people are coming from when they disagree with us is a core building block of communication and problem solving. And while we may FEEL strongly about our opinions, it’s important to remember that they aren’t rendered into facts through that process.

People, I’m in the middle. I’m more middle of the road than about anyone I’ve ever met. Sorta like an Independent Libertarian, maybe. And I hold everyone to the same standard. When I see folks using hyperbole or false equivalencies to try and make points (badly), I point it out. When I see people being uncivil to each other, I try to be their conscience. And yet, from the middle of the road, you can see just how badly polluted the gutters are. You can’t disagree with someone without being “the enemy,” and you can’t be “the enemy” without being labeled the polar opposite, regardless of the accuracy of that label.

It’s very sad, in the end, because it’s a bad commentary on how polarized we’ve become, and how unable we are to just sit down and fucking talk to each other like human beings. And it’s a god damned shame. The problem is heavily connected to social media, where Facebook, Twitter, and company allow us to enter echo-chambers – isolating us from dissent, and reassuring us of our “rightness” on issues. The reality is, we’re just blocking out the challenges of critical thinking and problem solving by ignoring opposing viewpoints because we’ve grown lazy. We’ve gone so far backwards.

Lost in the Gray

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Culture

So, I saw this today. So much sad. First, we get a film set in Kansas, but of course, it’s about a satanic, mass-murdering cult. So there’s that. But more than that, despite how easily it could have been managed, they filmed the damn thing in LOUISIANA. I know that’s not an uncommon thing for Hollywood, but seriously, how hard is it for our economic development groups to reach out to these people and get their money here? Kansas isn’t exactly an expensive place to operate, all you’d have to do is TRY.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Places_(2015_film)

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Because I know people will say it, “doing jackshit” doesn’t necessarily mean taking away people’s guns, or anything like that. “Doing jackshit” could mean admitting we don’t care about being better people, that we don’t work hard enough at teaching our children values and morals, that we simply don’t care enough. We don’t identify mental illness well enough, we don’t spend enough time on the good, and focus too hollowly on the bad. We don’t take bad events as opportunities to create good. We just use them to bring eyeballs to the TV and say “see how bad it is out there.” That’s not fucking good enough.

Issues, Kansas

Flight of Fancy

Kansas was once again in the news for its recent introduction to the top ten list of states with outbound population according to the latest United Van Lines survey. Naturally, this is spun as bad news for the state’s administration, which is already facing income shortfalls, even after downward revisions of expectations. It’s also shown as proof that Brownback’s efforts are failing. Which might be true. This news shouldn’t, however, come as a surprise to anyone. The downward population trend was also reflected in recent census data which showed us at a net loss.

For the sake of responsibility, we should acknowledge that the UVL study does have some limitations. Obviously, it’s only datasource were people that chose to use one of their moving services, leaving out everyone that used a competitor or did it themselves. The hope is that their sample size was large enough that such limitations don’t outweigh the overall trend, which should show through the noise. All that said, I don’t find a lot of reason to otherwise doubt their results. UVL has been doing this survey since the 70s, if my memory recalls correctly. And there’s never been any significant criticism of their findings or methodology that I know of. (Do you know something I don’t? Be sure to mention it down below in the comments and link the source so I can take a look.)

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Our state senators went out, dug a grave, bought a casket, picked out a headstone, and now they’re cruising to the hospital with the top down to unplug us. Share to support your frustration with the unparalleled, unprecedented failure of the #ksleg113‬ day session.

Current Events, Kansas

SB270 Passes 21-19

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Brownback, Then and Now

Current Events, Kansas, Politics

Brownback, Then and Now

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