Comment history

Pitts’ smokescreen

The conditioning of abortion rights on the circumstances of conception was an anti-abortion reaction to arguments against abortion bans, not a measure advanced by abortion rights supporters. When bans against abortion were proposed, abortion rights supporters argued that it would be morally repugnant to force a woman to endure a pregnancy as the consequence of her being the victim of a crime. Her nature as a victim was a counterpoint to the anti-abortion rhetoric that painted sex as a choice freely made by an individual who was then morally bound to accept the consequences. So, if sex were not a choice freely made, then the victims of sexual assault should not be subject to the consequences. By and large people accepted that argument which is why, with a few notable exceptions, restrictions on abortion have preserved exceptions for the circumstances of conception in order to make a broader appeal. The equivocation has come from anti-abortion advocates, not from abortion-rights advocates. Pitts was pointing out that, under the Mississippi amendment, a woman who was the victim of a crime would not only be subject to the "typical" mental and physical consequences, but also obligated to endure the physical pain of childbirth, the financial strain of prenatal and birth care, but the additional mental damage of having to carry the result of someone else's crime with them at all times. Someone who has been the victim of a home invasion may find themselves feeling violated, feeling as though their sanctuary has been disrupted. They may feel it necessary to move to find relief. Obviously a woman impregnated by a rapist has no such choice. Requiring a woman to carry her rapist's offspring to term tells her that, having been the victim of a crime that is most often characterized as a crime of power, that the criminal's power will continue to be exerted over her long after the violent act is over, but now the criminal's power will be supported by the power of the state as well.

There is no viable moral code that would obligate someone to suffer the consequences of someone else's choice, nor is there any viable moral code that would put the state's monopoly on legitimate violence behind the exercise of illegitimate violence. Hence, total bans on abortion are morally flawed. Carving out exceptions is the work of people want to restrict abortion, not those who want it safe, legal, and rare. Pinning the exceptions on Pitts or other abortion rights advocates gets Mr. McPheeters' moral calculus backwards.

November 19, 2011 at 3:41 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Regents discuss possible changes to admission standards at state colleges

The endpoint of your argument is that there should be no minimum standards to meet. Students of taxpayers should be granted open admission to all state-supported universities. That is the surest way to destroy the reputation of Kansas schools and thus diminish the value of the diplomas they grant.

"Now, if they are not qualified, as in your opinion, then the complaint is with the K-12 system. If you don't want them, fine, just refund some of us our tax dollars for paying for your approach. Employees of the state universities are responsible to the taxpayer. I agree with edjayhawk."

There are plenty of complaints about the K-12 system, to be sure, but perpetually tying that stone around the higher ed system just ensures they sink together. Higher ed standards help drive K-12 improvements. 120 years ago, Harvard started requiring writing and composition courses. That led to high schools offering writing and composition courses so their students would be more likely to get in to Harvard. If KU, KSU, and WSU raise their standards for admission, KS high schools will have to raise their standards as well. This is, by the way, a very good thing.

As for getting your money back, we all pay for lots of things we never use. I paid taxes that funded elementary schools in the state, but my kids will never go to school in Kansas. Roads Hays and Salina, law enforcement in Colby and Garden City, Medicaid coverage for families in Atcheson, all things I helped pay for that I never use. So, first of all, get over it. Second, state funds only cover 1/4-1/3 of KU's budget every year (and I would guess a similar percentage for KSU), so no one is anywhere near as beholden to you as you think. Third, it's called a common good. I never use the elementary schools, but it's good that all of the kids in the state will be able to go. I have never been on Medicaid, but it's better that families have access to medical care. It's better for the state to have outstanding institutions of higher ed because it improves the reputation of the state overall, improves the quality of life for people throughout the state, and an educated populace is a major driver behind companies' decisions to relocate. If the reputation of Kansas higher ed is low-quality, low-achievement, that doesn't benefit anyone.

August 27, 2009 at 9:33 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Regents discuss possible changes to admission standards at state colleges

"There is nothing absurb about not wanting to restrict admission to any and alll high school graduates to a tax supported school."

A state-supported school, sure. Every state-supported school? That doesn't do anything for those students or for the state. There are seven four-year universities under the regents' authority, and the idea that all of them should be held to identically low standards for admission is foolish. Missouri runs three separate state-supported systems, and there are differences between and within those systems. By creating a single campus with a unique mission and highly selective admissions, the state was able to get one of their universities (Truman State) into the top ten for Midwest master's-level rankings. By intensively focusing one campus on engineering (UM-Rolla, now Mo Univ of Science and Technology), they were able to foster an outstanding program with one of the strongest reputations in the field. Holding every school to the same minimal standard just means that none of them are ever able to distinguish themselves. Allowing variable admissions standards also doesn't close off state-supported higher ed either, since there are four master's-level universities in the state who would still be able to serve a lot of students. Actually, they could grow as students who can't get into KU or KSU choose Ft. Hays or Pitt. St., where they can get smaller classes and faculty who are more focused on teaching. Better for the students, better for the schools, better for the state. Texas does the same thing with selected flagship campuses that have higher admissions standards, and somehow they seem to be getting along. California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, etc., etc., etc. All of those states have state-supported research universities that are well-regarded, and they also have variable admissions standards. The examples are pretty clear.

"They and their famillies paid taxes too. Keeping them in college is another issue, but they should at least have a chance to get in."

They have a chance to get in: high school. If you live in Texas and want to go to UT, you know from day one that you had better be in the top 10% of your high school class because it is extraordinarily difficult for an in-state student to get admitted to UT otherwise. So, you work, you study, you take advanced courses, you do the things that will get you qualified. If you don't have the grades or the test scores to get into KU or KSU, then you go elsewhere. If you don't have the grades to go elsewhere, you go to community college. By the way, don't read into that some measure of elitism that big school=better school. The mission of a big school was not a good fit for me as an undergrad, so I went to a small school where I thrived. Different strokes for different folks, and all.

August 27, 2009 at 9:33 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Regents discuss possible changes to admission standards at state colleges

It takes a special sort of absurdity to say that valuing minimal levels of academic achievement is elitism. Even more so to make the argument that, by law, all state-supported schools in Kansas should admit the exact same students, ensuring that none of them can ever distinguish themselves.

August 26, 2009 at 9:15 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Police arrest five Lawrence juveniles in connection with auto burglaries

Google, boy, you're leaving no stone unturned. Took five seconds to pull up the city code from the city's website, then five seconds to search the PDF:
14-801 CHILDREN.
It shall be unlawful for any child under the age of eighteen (18) years to wander,
lounge, loaf, loiter or play in, about, or upon any public street, alley, sidewalk, vacant
lot, public place or other place normally accessible to the general public for public
use, whether on foot, or in a vehicle or by any means, during the hours of curfew
which are hereby specified for each day of each week as provided, to wit:
11:00 p.m. Monday to 6:00 a.m. Tuesday;
11:00 p.m. Tuesday to 6:00 a.m. Wednesday;
11:00 p.m. Wednesday to 6:00 a.m. Thursday;
11:00 p.m. Thursday to 6:00 a.m. Friday;
12:30 a.m. Saturday to 6:00 a.m. Saturday;
12:30 a.m. Sunday to 6:00 a.m. Sunday;
11:00 p.m. Sunday to 6:00 a.m. Monday;
unless accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or other person exercising legal
custody of such child. Such prohibition shall not apply to such children under the
age of eighteen (18) years who are en route by the most direct and accessible route
between their homes and authorized places of employment, authorized
entertainment, or authorized place of attendance to their residences. The term
"authorized" as used in this Section shall denote and require prior authorization by a
parent, legal guardian, or other person exercising legal custody.

July 1, 2009 at 5:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Officials approve a 6 percent tuition increase at KU

STRS--I'm not at all outraged at the state providing a discounted education to all of its citizens. Education is the textbook example of a public and private good. The more people in the state who are educated, the better. If those are children of poor and middle-class families, good, and if they are the children of wealthy families, good. Just all sorts of good all over. The only reason to remove the subsidy from higher education would be if higher education only benefited those who directly receive it. Fact is, education is good because it leads to innovation, it leads to the careers that are necessary to the functioning of society (think doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.), it improves the prospects of the state as whole. Investing in education gets great returns. Failing to do so leads to a situation in which only the wealthy have an education, and with no cultivated intellectual/entreprenurial merit in middle and lower classes, they have no reason to innovate or adapt.

As for those students who flunk out, there are two solutions: ensure that once they get there, failure is literally not an option OR ensure that those who might fail never get the chance to succeed. The former solution would devalue a college education to the point where is becomes functionally meaningless while the latter would only increase the real and perceived elitism of the university without any reliable criteria for predetermining such elitism. Students who drop out of college early in their educational careers (at least from large state schools like KU and KSU) have also spent most of their time in large classes, which are pedagogically questionable, but very cost-effective for the institution. Additionally, the four year compact at KU means that students are paying over-value for their first couple of years. If they drop out in the meantime, the effect of the subsidy is considerably reduced. I'd think you'd be all for that.

I'm not at all frustrated that adults without a college education contribute to the subsidy for public higher education, because those adults benefit from it as well. They have doctors at nearby medical facilities, teachers in their kids' schools (both for math and theater), writers for their newspapers, and librarians to check out books written by authors who went to university-sponsored workshops and retreats. That's not to mention businesses run by competent managers and overseen by diligent accountants to employ them, of course.

So, the question is, by what standard is higher education inefficient, and should efficiency really be the goal? Since the only outlines you've got of an alternate system are "if you want it, pay for it," I would guess that your model of efficiency rewards inherited wealth over merit (poor kids can be pretty smart too, you know, but heaven forfend they get a scholarship--subsidy?-to fully develop that potential).

June 25, 2009 at 6:22 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Officials approve a 6 percent tuition increase at KU

STRS: "Does anyone believe that public higher education won't eventually become completely taxpayer subsidized? Taxpayers already cover over 50% of the actual cost to educate a student."

Provide proof for this statement or come back to reality. State support for higher education has dropped for three decades. Currently, the state provides less than one-third of budget for higher education. At KU specifically, the number is closer to 22%.

June 25, 2009 at 4:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Officials approve a 6 percent tuition increase at KU

As long as the state continues to cut support for higher ed, then the burden for higher ed will get shifted to tuition. It's not a new thing, it's not solely related to the ongoing recession/downturn/econopocalypse and associated cuts, but it's been a 30 year trend. That's why perceived quality hasn't gone up (@valgrlku), because neither has the relative funding. Every cut from the state has to lead either to less being provided or more tuition charged. Additionally, as the existing state funding becomes ever less secure (not only does KU not have enough, but its ever more likely that it will be cut), they have to hedge their bets with tuition. Your preference would be fewer profs for more students? Isn't the complaint already that classes are too big for students to have access now? Fewer custodial/facilities staff? Because the buildings are in plenty good shape now, and would really benefit from a few firings (not to mention Lawrence would really do well from more unemployment). Fewer administrators? Maybe, but since they're the ones making the decisions, it seems unlikely, and someone would still have to do their jobs, it would fall to the faculty to pick up more of that burden, leaving them even less time to interact with students.

June 25, 2009 at 2:25 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

51-year-old man arrested in murder of George Tiller outside his church

Wichita Eagle is now reporting they've got the suspect in custody, presser at 4.

May 31, 2009 at 2:22 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Provost at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill named KU chancellor

"Why don't we get to know who the finalists are?"

Upper-level administrative searches (provost, chancellor, president, oftentimes dean) are usually kept secret so the candidates don't have to answer questions at their current institutions about their desire to leave. See the way Lariviere's candidacy at Oregon went along. The search for Pitt State's president earlier this year was an aberration.

May 29, 2009 at 3:17 p.m. ( | suggest removal )