Politics, KC schools, federal budget

12/17/2013 4:55 PM

12/17/2013 4:55 PM

Unfeeling politics

Americans should start a grassroots political action group and pressure Congress and the president to not only hear our needs but force them to act on them.

The main problem with our politics is that 25 percent of the people are hard-core conservatives, 25 percent are hard-core liberals and the other 50 percent of us are busy with our everyday lives assuming the elected officials care enough to do things right. But they rarely do.

The 50 percent end up going along for the ride and get legislation that is either too conservative or too liberal, depending what group is in power. Most care only about the next election.

Too many lies and talking points are wasting time.

Rod Mead

Pittsburg, Kan. Schools’ direction

The Missouri State Board of Education contracted with CEE-Trust in September to develop a plan for addressing Kansas City Public Schools and other underperforming districts in the state. The study is being funded by the Hall and Kauffman foundations.

CEE-Trust then subcontracted with North Carolina-based Public Impact to write the report. CEE-Trust is an initiative of Indianapolis-based The Mind Trust, a charter incubator.

CEE-Trust and its partners typically advocate for an approach called market based/corporate reforms. Their system would result in the dissolution of traditional school districts, replaced by independently operated charter schools.

The focus is on universal choice, with parents and students as consumers in a competitive marketplace of schools. Increased accountability based on student performance indicators are implemented.

Alternative approaches to teacher certification and rigid teacher evaluations are used. This often results in high teacher turnover.

Reform strategies central to this group often include aggressive school closures and charter expansion, reliance on provisionally certified short-term teaching staff, school-funding reform and high stakes assessment.

Stakeholders need to become informed and let your voices be heard regarding the potential plans for this district.

Janet Parks

Kansas City Budget pact needed

Congress should approve the bipartisan budget conference proposal for fiscal year 2014 to restore some funding critical for cancer research and prevention programs that have suffered significant budget cuts because of sequestration.

This year in Kansas and Missouri, thousands of people will be diagnosed with cancer. For them, the cuts in cancer research that took place as a result of sequestration are very real.

Because of these cuts, the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s medical research center, has lost more than a billion dollars, a reality felt by cancer research labs across the country, including the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Sustained and robust funding for medical research and prevention is imperative to eliminating death and suffering from cancer, which will kill thousands of people in Kansas and Missouri this year.

This holiday season, I’m holding out hope that Congress will still do what’s right for cancer patients and their families and turn off the sequester, reinvesting in the fight against this devastating disease.

Jim Miksch

Prairie Village Assisting consumers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is doing great work to protect consumers from unfair and exploitive practices such as those conducted by payday lenders.

If people have a consumer complaint against a payday lender, bank, credit-card company or even a credit bureau, complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It’s getting results for consumers.

According to a recent MoPIRG Foundation report analyzing complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, thousands of consumers are getting results — such as fixing errors on their credit reports — by filing complaints.

Your credit report, and the score derived from it, determines your eligibility for affordable credit, renting an apartment or even getting a job.

Because credit bureaus aren’t accountable to consumers and consumers can’t shop for the best deal on credit reports, the Consumer Complaint Database is just one example of how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gets results for consumers.

Alec Sprague

Midwest

Federal Advocate

MoPIRG

St. Louis Help warranted

The Dec. 15 Star has the cover story, “Denise’s decision,” on a Johnson County couple married for 35 years whose lives are torn apart by the husband’s devastating form of dementia.

When he was in his late 50s, he began exhibiting bizarre behavior, which those closest to him could not understand. As difficult as it may at times be, he has the love of caring family members, who sought professional help.

Which brings us to the Dec. 14 cover story, “Kansas terror plot is halted,” of Terry Loewen, age 58, from Wichita. Follow-up reports tell us that those close to Loewen are mystified by his actions.

Why does a middle-age avionics tech from the Kansas prairie suddenly become “driven by radical ideas” of al-Qaida and suicide?

Rather than giving aid to facilitating the bomb attempt, why wouldn’t the FBI “decoys” have sought professional mental health care for Loewen? They began their decoy surveillance last summer.

Does the temptation of worldwide headlines for the FBI, the U.S. attorney and the Kansas governor give rise to a rush to judgment?

Bill Emerson

Kansas City Utopia in America

Do more people believe in UFOs than voter fraud? Maybe.

But I submit that more left-wingers believe in the following than in UFOs: There is no government email and telephone spying, no federal agency sharing of private medical records, no health-insurance cancellations or price increases, no Internal Revenue Service political partisanship, no security failures of importance in Benghazi, Libya, no five-year stretch of high unemployment and no lower-class hardships while the connected rich Democrats cash in on the record-high stock market and government bailouts.

There’s no food-stamp cheating, no fake disability recipients and no false income claims for Obamacare.

I almost forgot that the liberals tend to believe there’s no need for immigration laws and that there’s no crime of importance unless it’s committed by Republicans and/or Christians.

Oh, yes, all of those dead people who have voted in every election in every precinct in every state in every Democratic-controlled county in the country are merely clerical errors.

I guess we’d have a true utopia if those troublesome conservatives would just wise up.

Robert Devine

Excelsior Springs Holiday help

Warren Buffet has been quoted saying, “All these people who think that food stamps are debilitating and lead to a cycle of poverty, they’re the same ones who go out and want to leave a ton of money to their kids.”

Since December 2012, I have been helping a young family whose father is in prison and a young wife is left home with a small child and has two others with their fathers. She has gone without hot water or heat since he left because he failed to pay the bill.

I have been there for her to take her where she needs to go because she has no car. Thank God she now has heat.

When she went to the Salvation Army to get on the list, workers told her it was filled. She cried.

Is there anyone out there who is willing to make this Christmas a wonderful one for a deserving mother and her children? I would even wrap the gifts and certainly deliver them.

Thank you and may our God bless everyone.

Jo Ann Rebo

Independence Thanks to KC Chiefs

It has been an impressive and surprising Kansas City football experience.

And now that we have clinched a playoff berth, I think the fans owe a hearty debt of thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs owner, coach, players and staff for a sensational season and a thrilling drive to the post.

Gordon Havens

Independence

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