Hold the applause on Kansas school finance bill

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed the controversial (to put it mildly) education bill that attempts to correct funding inequities but also includes a serious threat to teachers’ job security and an opportunity for donors to write off most of the cost of sending certain students to private schools.

Kansas regents double down on repressive social media policy

The Kansas Board of Regents appears to be digging in deeper on curbing freedom of speech on university campuses. This week, a work group of university faculty and other employees found that the board's policy on social media has had a chilling effect on open dialogue in academia. The regents then confirmed what had been feared on campuses: The work group was windowdressing.

Research to reality, a life-and-death quandary

Peggy Battin, of all people, understands that life-and-death decisions are fraught with conflicts and ambiguity. Medical personnel give mixed signals. Loved ones don’t want to let go. Even Battin, after all her studies and intellectual wrangles, did not want to say goodbye to her husband, Brooke, when he felt it was time to go.

Would you share your DNA info to advance medicine?

The provocative question of how “big data” will affect medicine and patient privacy is getting a lot of attention at the National Institutes of Health. “Respect for persons” requires patient permission to share DNA data, says NIH Director Francis Collins. Most Americans wouldn’t have it any other way. But persuasion is important, too.

Up in the sky! It’s reality, untethered in Kansas

Kansas is in deep fiscal trouble. “We are flat broke,” said Democratic Sen. Laura Kelly, the ranking minority member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. So how are the Republicans in charge responding to this crisis? By giving money away, of course.

Dirty tricks in the Hickman Mills school board race

Voters who want to see the Hickman Mills School District make progress should ignore the vile and illegal cxampaign mailings received over the weekend and support Bonnaye Mims, Dan Osman and Karry Palmer for school board. The mailings are a sign of hos desperate a certain faction is to disrupt the struggling district and exert a poisonous influence.

Kansas Senate school bill deserves an ‘F’

OK, no more late-night meetings for the Kansas Senate. They get into too much trouble after dark. Members approved an absolutely awful education bill in the wee hours of Friday morning. Let’s hope a common-sense approach prevails when the House and Senate get together to reconcile differences in their bills.

Missouri legislature at work: Please do not disturb with facts

Psst, Missouri legislators. Your arrogance is showing. One day it’s a group of state senators haughtily declaring they don’t want to be bothered with further talk about Medicaid expansion. Another day it’s a couple of House members berating a pastor who visited the Capitol to correctly warn that a bill purporting to regulate payday lending would instead lead to more and larger debt traps.

The Missouri Senate and the inconvenient poor

Republicans in the Missouri Senate came back from spring break with a harsh message for anyone holding out hope for Medicaid expansion: Nothing to see here. Move on. Sen. John Lamping conducted a question-and-answer session with like-minded opponents on the Senate floor. “Why is this somehow our problem?” asked Kurt Schaefer, from Columbia.

The intrigue of Malaysia predates missing airliner

Maybe the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has nothing to do with Malaysia. Or China, the intended destination. Perhaps a simple mechanical failure brought down the plane. Whatever we finally learn, this quirky southeast Asian nation, which has somehow prospered despite secrecy and contractions, is likely to be forever changed.

More Americans like Obamacare; the GOP still hates it

Here’s a disconnect for you. Sixty-four percent of Americans now say they want to keep the Affordable Care Act around. Yet Republicans in Congress and state legislatures remain obsessed with Obamacare and spend vast amounts of time coming up with creative ways to undermine the law.

Watch who’s watching your school district

Some people worry about the election coming up in April in the Hickman Mills School District. Ten people, including Breman Anderson, are running for three open seats. It wouldn’t take much to tip the board’s delicate balance. But history isn’t likely to repeat itself in Hickman Mills. Because this time, we’ll all be watching.

Kansas GOP takes aim at party switchers

With their bill that would prevent voters from changing their party affiliations from June 1 to Sept. 1., Kansas Republicans want to fix something that isn’t broken. The Legislature should stuck with the current law, or better yet, go with a system like Missouri’s, where primary voters can request whichever party’s ballot they prefer, regardless of their affiliation.

Audit details Hickman Mills School District shenanigans

A report by Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich paints a picture of the Hickman Mills School District running amok. Schweich’s audit is a saga of contracts being awarded without bids, wasteful travel by some board members and employees, multiple questionable expenditures, hefty amounts of money spent on meals, improperly closed meetings and some very strange personnel moves.

No permit required, and gun homicides spike in Missouri

In the tilted universe of Jefferson City, an additional registration requirement for gun purchases is seen as a far greater threat than the prospect of more guns ending up in the hands of criminals. Still, gun-safety advocates should use a study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research to keep up the pressure.

The origins of craziness in the Kansas Legislature

The 2012 elections kicked pragmatic lawmakers with years of experience to the curb, replacing them with people with right-wing political leanings and not much else. The Kansas Legislature would be funny if it weren’t so scary. People of Kansas, look at which legislators are embarrassing your state and send them packing at election time.

A child snatched, a community’s worst nightmare

This is the rare scenario that causes lasting horrors in a community — a child doing something perfectly normal, snatched out of her life and into a nightmare. It doesn’t happen often, thank heavens. But when it does, it serves as a reminder for parents to hug their kids and tell them once again to steer clear of strangers who try to engage them even in simple conversation.

Missouri study argues for stronger gun-licensing laws

A change in Missouri gun policy that passed with relatively little attention seven years ago caught the eye of a team of researchers, who now say the change was responsible for an uptick in violent crimes in the state, including an additional 60 or so homicides a year.

Is comeuppance ahead for predatory colleges?

Weak-kneed enforcement has enabled the for-profit college sector to shrug off its outrageous practices with callous disregard for taxpayers and the many people who leave its campuses worse off than when they enrolled. Now the companies and their investors are reportedly worried. It is past time to turn the tables.

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