Current Events, SEK

As far as “things you find money for to make it happen” goes, this is one of them in education. You do not fail students that work their asses off to qualify for Nationals, because these are the students doing everything right. You do not shit on those kids like that. Debate and Forensics programs are literally one of the few opportunities students have to learn and apply skills that genuinely go on to serve them in the real world the rest of their lives. If you want to help them, visit their GoFundMe page.

“I was kind of expecting it when I heard that our district was cut so much money and we got the final word from our principal and he’s still trying to find ways to help us pay for it.” PHS Debate Coach Julie Laflen, K-12 cuts hit PHS debate; The Morning Sun

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Issues, SEK

Kansas just took one of the best possible scenarios for a casino in SEK and pissed all over the opportunity out of petulance.

The Quapaw Tribe’s Downstream Casino Resort, of Oklahoma, withdrew from a partnership in a Kansas state-owned casino proposal citing a hostile and adversarial environment created when the Kansas attorney general filed a federal lawsuit to halt a separate plan by the Tribe to expand its existing casino. Quapaw’s Downstream Casino Cites Kansas’ Hostile Environment, Lawsuit, For Withdrawing From Proposal Partnership; KOAM TV

Ruffin’s proposal is still in play, but I feel like this substantially hurts the possibility of it being selected. Not to mention it cripples part of what made the proposal so appealing to begin with.

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Culture, Kansas

In an annual survey measuring “well-being,” Kansas has gone from 17th (2012), to 20th (2013), and last year jumped down over 20% to 32nd.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses a holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals across the globe to create a unique view of societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations. New State Rankings Reveal Top 10 Highest and Lowest Well-Being States, Gallup-Healthways

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Kansas, Politics

Voter fraud is bad. Voter fraud is something we should try to prevent. That said, Kansas does not have a voter fraud problem. Kobach uses voter fraud as a carrot to dangle in front of an easily mislead voter base. And then this comes up (after the elections, of course):

The Associated Press obtained [U.S. Attorney Barry] Grissom’s response to Kobach. It included this gem: “…So we can avoid misstatements of facts for the future, for the record, we have received no voter fraud cases from your office in over four and a half years. And, I can assure you, I do know what I’m talking about.” Kris Kobach exposed in phony Kansas voter fraud claim, The Kansas City Star

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Kansas, Politics

Though stopping short of fully admitting his tax-cut plan is failing Kansas, Brownback is attempting to patch our budget problems by raising taxes on alcohol and tobacco. But, this is again an example of ego getting in the way of making good policy, since sin taxes are inherently regressive in nature. As a result, if this passes, those already struggling in Kansas will suffer the worst, while the well-off will continue to be well-off. Plus, sin taxes are designed to try and discourage the sin. There are people that will quit smoking and decrease drinking, thereby negating gains. Not to mention that many populated areas like KC, Ft. Scott, and Pittsburg can easily border-hop to Missouri. Bottom line, we’re letting bad decisions lead to worse decisions.

Brownback wants to raise tobacco and alcohol taxes to help eliminate a projected shortfall of nearly $600 million in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The state’s budget problems arose after lawmakers aggressively cut income taxes at Brownback’s urging in 2012 and 2013 to stimulate the economy. Kansas committee review bill to boost taxes, Topeka Capitol-Journal

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Kansas, Politics

So, this is a thing that’s trying to get pushed through. I’m super interested in how they think this isn’t a pretty direct first amendment violation.

Actually, I know how they “think” it isn’t (hint: it has to do with universities technically being a government job, which is why the legislation only deals with issues that revolve around government commentary, so apparently working for the government is grounds for restricting commentary on it).

“Both the U.S. and Kansas Constitutions allow for unfettered freedom of speech and of the press. Those sacred documents don’t say ‘except if you’re a college professor who has an opinion.'” Kansas bill would ban use of writer’s job title in newspaper opinion pieces; The Kansas City Star

Update: While reading another article on this topic, I came across this GEM.

“I introduce bills in committee sometimes when I’m asked out of courtesy. It’s not because I have any skin in the game or I care about it. I’m not even sure I introduced it, but if he said I did, I did,” [Rep. Virgil] Peck said. Legislation bans professors from using titles in newspaper columns; The Topeka Capitol-Journal

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Issues, SEK

Obviously correlation and causation are different things we must consider, but we’re seeing this conversation an awful lot in recent years. The question becomes one of risk-reward: how much risk are we willing to assume in the pursuit of energy resources given our long term rewards (keeping in mind, the ability to continue relying on fossil fuels is not a reward), and at what point do we establish the line in the sand to force reconsideration?

“Reports of earthquakes in Kansas have shot up recently, particularly in the state’s south-central region. Now, scientists are connecting them to the disposal of wastewater that is a byproduct of the oil-and-gas extraction process. Rick Miller, geophysicist and senior scientist for the Kansas Geological Survey, told the Lawrence Journal-World, ‘we can say there is a strong correlation between the disposal of saltwater and the earthquakes.'” Political tremors: Kansas officials link earthquakes to fracking-related process, FoxNews.com

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Issues, Kansas

Interesting to see this coming up in the news again, especially after the legislature took action to correct the matter after the initial ruling.

“Acting on earlier direction from the state Supreme Court, the Shawnee County District Court panel concluded that current funding falls short of what are called the “Rose standards,” a multi-part test for adequacy of school spending outlined in a Kentucky case and adopted by courts across the country.” Court rules school funding is inadequate under Kansas Constitution, The Wichita Eagle

For those unfamiliar, with regard to the constitutional requirements of the state in matters of educational funding, the Kansas constitution states:

The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. Article 6, Section 6, part B

The “educational interests of the state” are then further outlined in KSA 72-1127. It’s a fairly complicated entanglement of principles, made more difficult since the base cost to accomplish those goals has no definite number (what the court calls a “bright line”). But as such, the courts stopped short of actually telling the legislature how much they had to fund, and only declared that the current funding levels clearly cannot satisfy KSA 72-1127.

The real struggle that’s interesting is finding where that balance is between being flat out underfunded, and just being asked to create new efficiencies which tighter budgets. Obviously it’s not a bad thing to evaluate if we’re overpaying for educational outcomes. It’s tough though when there isn’t so much a line in the sand, as you’re just dealing with a zone that encompasses the whole beach.

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Culture, Politics

Had someone share this article with me this morning, and after reading it, thought it was worth sharing. Please, take a few minutes and read this. Then take a few more minutes and genuinely consider the problems we want to address in this country, and how one solves those problems. Not in terms of ideology, but genuine problem-solution thinking. Think about how ideology factors into solution engineering, and more specifically, how ideology can be used as a means of misdirection by those in power against the voters. There’s a term for the people being described in this article – “Useful idiots“.

Culture and Congress, principle and politics – we have to learn to separate these values. Culture, religion, and morals are not something you enforce under threat of punishment. It’s something you grow by winning the hearts and minds of your neighbors through the building of virtuous models. It comes through your actions, not your votes or your wallet.

“So why am I writing you this letter? Because, also unlike my liberal friends, I’m actually on your side, in some ways. I’m an ordained rabbi, and someone deeply concerned with the vulgarization and sexualization of our society. You and I disagree about the solution to this problem, of course, but we agree that there is a problem.”
Dear Evangelicals: You’re Being Had by Jay Michaelson

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