Letters to the Editor

Letters: Readers discuss KU STEM programs, recalcitrant Republicans and Travis Kelce

KU hurts science

I grew up in Kansas, attended the University of Kansas and have been a rabid Jayhawks fan for 50 years. In 2005, I wrote and directed the Showtime movie, “Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus.”

Does anyone remember how the state had become a national laughingstock over the issue of teaching evolution in public schools? The name “Kansas” was synonymous with “anti-science” and the butt of jokes on late-night talk shows.

The good people of Kansas — led by KU — chased intelligent design away. At the center of the effort was the Center for STEM Learning at KU. In a decade, Kansas went from class clown to class act.

But now KU has decided to slash all this. The university is terminating its Center for STEM Learning along with the UKanTeach teacher-training course. In a fit of poorly informed budget cutting (as $300 million is being raised for a new football stadium), KU is trashing these programs for trivial budget savings.

I don’t get it. Just as the state has emerged as a national leader on STEM learning? I can’t be a fan of anything Kansas if it’s headed back to the dark ages of anti-science.

- Randy Olson, Los Angeles

Take it statewide

Last Thursday, St. Louis County changed how it cares for pregnant women in its jail, recognizing that safety, justice and dignity are not incompatible.

County Executive Sam Page signed an executive order adding a variety of protections for pregnant inmates. The order bans shackling and provides for breastfeeding and mental health support for pregnant and postpartum inmates.

In 2018, President Donald Trump’s administration signed the First Step Act, which helps ensure that pregnant women in custody at federal institutions are treated with dignity, banning the use of shackles and restraints for women in their third trimester and during delivery.

While I commend St. Louis County for doing the right thing, it’s really disappointing and concerning that we were unable to pass similar legislation in Missouri’s 2019 legislative session to ensure these protections are available to all pregnant inmates across the state when shackling pregnant inmates has been outlawed at the federal level.

I encourage the General Assembly to extend these protections to women in county justice systems across the state in 2020 and in the meantime ask that Jackson County and Kansas City do what Jefferson City could not.

- Mary Elizabeth Coleman, Arnold, Missouri

Missed chance

Sunday’s “Short Take: Keep a Democrat out of the White House” (17A) argued that Republicans might cooperate more on impeachment if Democrats removed their top congressional officials from the line of presidential succession.

Had Republicans followed the facts of President Donald Trump’s misdeeds months ago, rather than giving him a pass after the Mueller report came out, Vice President Mike Pence would not have been implicated in Trump’s offenses, as he now appears to be.

But Republicans would not speak out against Trump. Their tacit approval fed the beast of Trump’s pathological egotism.

Now that he is in full megalomania mode, as evidenced by his recent tweet about “my great and unmatched wisdom,” he has been caught by his own words in an offense so enormous — extorting a foreign power to find dirt on a political opponent and holding back aid — that Republicans are getting nervous that not only Trump, but Pence as well, will be impeached.

So they want the Democrats to “save” them by changing the constitutional mandate that the House speaker becomes president should the president and vice president both be ousted.

The impeachment process must go forward, regardless of what happens in the Senate. It will be interesting to see if Republicans believe that a President Nancy Pelosi is worse than the two truly unfit people in office now.

- Bernadine Kline, Liberty

Two Chiefs greats

Barring injury, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is on a path to equal many of Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez’s records. Through 85 games, Kelce has similar statistics to Gonzalez in number of catches, total yards and touchdowns.

Kelce once told ESPN, “I’m not going to stop until I get the (Super Bowl) ring.” That ring is about the only thing Gonzalez never achieved, though he deserved one.

Both Kelce and Gonzalez are honorary advisers for the Shadow Buddies Foundation, a charity that supports sick and disabled children. Maybe this year, the Chiefs, with Patrick Mahomes and company, will help Kelce say to Gonzalez, “This Super Bowl ring is for us and the Buddies.”

- Grant L. Nelson, Kansas City