Entries from blogs tagged with “Citizen Journalism Academy”
I want all of the football, basketball, hockey, curling, and whist fans out there to consider the Kansas legislative session a "season" like any other sports season. The #ksleg season runs from January to May. Unfortunately it looks as though the whole state may be on the losing end this season.
Please be as interested and involved in the games being played in the statehouse down the road as you are in the games played on courts and fields thousands of miles away.
If you are a citizen of Kansas (heck, this country) and call yourself a patriot, yet say "I just don't pay attention to politics," you might be part of the problem with politics today.
If you take your hat off for the Star Spangled Banner and put your hand over your heart for the Pledge of Allegiance, but say "they're all just crooks," you might be a part of the problem with politics today.
If you know more about the sports scores for your favorite teams than you do about your local school district and city commission, you might be a part of the problem with politics today.
If you have watched more playoff games than you've participated in elections, you are the problem with politics today.
Sitting on the bench right now while Parents as Teachers is defunded (yes, today in the Ks legislature), kindergarten teachers are told they just "teach finger painting" (yes, this week in the Ks legislature), and all teachers are being told they can be sued if a parent deems their lesson "obscene" (again, this week #ksleg) means you ARE part of the problem.
It is time to get involved and let your legislators know that these attacks on the Kansas education system is NOT OKAY. It is time to let legislators know that Kansans CARE ABOUT OUR BEST RESOURCE: OUR CHILDREN. It is time to remind your legislators know that you STAND WITH EDUCATORS because their working conditions are STUDENTS' WORKING CONDITIONS.
This afternoon I noticed an article that to me is of considerable interest (see below). It addresses the issue of prejudice and might just surprise you. It is “knowledge based” but I can only hope not definitive. If the latter, I despair for the future of our country. You may have to cut and paste the address.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/28/opinion/david-brooks-why-partyism-is wrong.html emc=edit_th_20141028&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=43279202&_r=0
I used to post photos of out of the way places in this blog. Today I ran across something that was unexpected. Since it is a little out of the way, even though it is probably pretty obvious, I thought I'd post it.
DoD Identifies Army Casualty 05/15/2014 02:40 PM CDT
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. NR-248-14 May 15, 2014
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R Barreras, 49, of Tucson, Arizona, died May 13, in San Antonio Military Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, from wounds suffered on May 6, in Harat Province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.
U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) On the Web: http://www.defense.gov/releases/ Media Contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132 Public Contact: http://www.defense.gov/landing/questions.aspx or +1 (703) 428-0711 +1 Updates from the U.S. Department of Defense
Over the last couple of years I have been posting blogs addressing the direct tax load on the upper half of the middle class. I have opined that there is an even greater load because this group must purchase with taxable dollars goods and services that are provided to lower income folk by government subsidy. Today I found an article that purports to do that. I can not attest to the accuracy of this work but it is an attempt to quantify that impact and it is therefore appropriate to call it to your attention. See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323623304579061423122639430.html?mod=ITP_opinion_0
Perhaps some of you may have missed it as it was not covered clearly in the LJW. This week Mr. Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate, and clearly a leader in the Democratic Party announced that he would not accept any tax reform unless it generated at least a trillion dollars in new revenue.
That is a shame as a bipartisan group in the Senate was close to a compromise tax reform proposal that was revenue neutral but eliminated many of the more egregious tax breaks and would have made the tax system more equitable. This announcement essentially kills that effort.
But the real issue here is that the demand by Mr. Reid is a demand to double federal income taxes on those who pay them. We are not talking a few dollars here. We are talking an average increase of 15% of a family’s income in addition to the 15% we already take (for the 50% we do tax).
Is this not significant and worthy of some public debate?
KU is one of the larger employers in the state. It has a total annual budget of $1.24 Billion from many sources. The state’s direct contribution is about 20%. Tuition provides another 20%. The question for discussion is whether the services provided to the citizens of the state given this investment are worth the half billion paid. That is a fair question.
The university seeks to provide a world class facility and curriculum and structures the environment to do so. That costs. Some of our elected leaders seem to feel that it is too costly and have made arbitrary cuts. There is, however, another option. We could tailor our overall curriculum to address topics of interest to the state and strongly support them. We could also provide adequate educational opportunities for the rest of our offerings.
I have never understood how our state has managed to create an environment where the service provider defines the level of service to be provided, the environment in which it will be delivered and just sends a bill. In my world I define the level of service I want, the environment in which it is to be delivered and pay the resulting bill. If I don’t like what I get at that price I can pay more or shut up and say thank you.
This discussion IMHO should occur between the Regents and our state government (legislature and governor) with a goal of finding a level of higher education appropriate to a state with the overall revenue stream of Kansas. We just may not be able to compete with a state like California with many times our population and revenues.
I am very sympathetic toward our faculty. We owe them a clear statement of expectations and rewards. We should not be “sending signals” by cutting revenue with no clear agreement as to what is expected. That represents a failure of leadership at the state level. If you do not want to pay for something then define what you are willing to support – and accept the outcome. Do not continually ask people to do more with less to cover the political fallout of your choices.
It is not all about business and never has been. Lower taxes will not in the long run attract the type of well-paying commerce we want. The environment in which the services are rendered is very important. Education (all) is an important part of that environment.
When I was young I could go to government buildings and just walk right in. In the 1970s there were no barriers between myself and my Congressman. Nobody seemed to be fearful of being shot. There were as I recall few incidents. Signs would not have prevented them. The fact that many of those buildings were used by armed law enforcement officers (and still are) may have contributed.
Today more and more of my government buildings are being fenced off from the people. Yes, isolated from the very people who own them and who go there to conduct their legitimate business. It seems to me that we are building walls between the leaders and the led. Why should I be frisked in order to exercise my constitutional right to petition my government? Why do my commissioners need protection from me?
Could this issue be more about the overinflated self-aggrandizement of our elected officials who apparently feel that they must be protected from those they serve? They must have guards, security devices and an expensive and elegant forum to show their enhanced status over the plebian hoards who seek their approbation.
This issue is not about gun control. This issue is about the fundamental relationship between the leaders and the led in a democratic society.
I've been experimenting with a new camera which let me takes series of photos so that I can create timelapse movies. This is the first of my efforts.
In today’s Washington Post an article appears (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/robert-j-samuelson-why-arent-americans-spending-their-record-wealth/2013/06/16/5d677b7e-d50a-11e2-8cbe-1bcbee06f8f8_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines) that explores why our recovery has been slower than historic experience. The gist of the article IMHO is that people (even through many have recovered the wealth they lost during the downturn) are simply not spending.
The author speculates a bit on why. Are you in that boat? If you are holding back why are you doing so?
I can only speak for my family. We are retired receiving social security, pensions and return on savings. Today, our social security, Medicare, and pensions are all under attack with the potential for significant loss of future buying power. The earnings on our savings have been artificially and significantly reduced. Equities, the one area of investment that is showing real growth, are very risky for those in our age group. Despite careful planning during our working years we now find ourselves holding back on our expenditures because we are fearful of not having enough resources to pay our future bills. Our hesitance is being driven by government activities.
Many of you are familiar with the interchanges between a number of contributors to this space who favor a carbon tax to address climate change and I. During the course of those exchanges I have been branded as a Luddite. Well I may no longer be wandering in the wilderness. The article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/climate-change-needs-a-rational-response/2013/06/16/00673116-d2db-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.html) in the Washington Post speaks IMHO to near term reasonable solutions that do not require a carbon tax.
For the record, I oppose a carbon tax because in its current manifestations (there are many version). The citizens of Kansas would take a real and disproportionate impact to their standard of living as a consequence of most of the approaches so far presented because primarily we use coal for our energy needs. I believe, as the Washington Post suggests, that we should prioritize our carbon mitigation investments to address that very problem but I do so from a national perspective where all of us contribute more or less evenly toward that prioritized mitigation. We did nothing wrong and we should not be disproportionately punished to address a national objective.
Another Memorial Day is upon us. We are busy throwing mud at each other about the size, scope and operation of our government. Meanwhile, despite Mr. Obama’s declaration of withdrawal, our troops continue to fight and die In Afghanistan. The price continues although no longer mentioned in our press. Below are casualty reports for the past week.
The Department of Defense announced today (Sunday) the death of four soldiers ``who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died May 14, in Sanjaray, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey C. Baker, 29, of Hesperia, Calif., assigned to
``766th Ordnance Company, 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Spc. Mitchell K. Daehling, 24, of Dalton, Mass., Spc. William J. Gilbert, 24, of Hacienda Heights, Calif., and Pfc. Cody J. Towse, 21, of Elk Ridge, Utah,
All were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.
The Department of Defense announced today (Tuesday)the death of two soldiers
``who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died May 16, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with a vehicle borne improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fort Juan Muna, Guam.
Killed were: Sgt. Eugene M Aguon, 23, of Mangilao, Guam, and Spc. Dwayne W. Flores, 22, of Sinajana, Guam.
I’m a thug. This revelation came to me two years ago as I was attending a KNEA convention in Topeka. There I was seated between a grandmotherly woman in a denim romper wearing wooden necklace and an auto tech teacher from what I like to called “western Kansas” (which translates to “anywhere west of Wanamaker”).
So there I sat in a Topeka convention hall rolling the word “thug” around in my head. The imagery of mafiosos in Dick Tracy hats and tommy guns just didn’t seem to fit with the teachers sitting around me. Neither did the incendiary descriptions of teachers only out for their own self-interests. My goodness just a couple of rows away sat my former piano teacher and I KNEW any self-interested man would have fled the awful sounds I could produce for another career.
But a thug is what I have become. If I am a thug it is the educational system that has made me into a thug and for this I’m grateful because it means I have become an advocate for my students, myself, my family, my peers, my profession and my community.
I have come to see my career as a series of journeys. The first phase of the journey as a 21-year-old straight out of teachers college looking for a classroom of her own. Any basement classroom would do; even if it meant no centralized heat or air and sharing the space with a few creatures of the four-legged variety.
My journey started with the enthusiasm of establishing a career, staying at school until 10pm to “just wrap things up” and volunteering to be on parent, scholarship and district committees. My husband and I had just married and my time for students was limitless. In the teachers’ lounge I scoffed at the negativity of some of my peers while hero worshipping others who seems to have boundless energy and drive.
The journey changed so subtly that I barely recognized that I had arrived in a different place. Even today I can’t really say when exactly I changed or whether it was the job that changed or whether it was just a change in my awareness. Somewhere between baby number one, the changing of school administrations, earning my masters degree and baby number two my bright optimistic attitude dulled. The grousing in the teacher’s lounge didn’t seem so far away from reality.
Rather than believe some of my peers were just lazy or didn’t care, I started wondering what THEY had been like their first five years of teaching.
- When had they lost the love of teaching and learning from students? When had they lost their joy for teaching? Was I going to lose MY joy in teaching? Would the constant demand to do more with less wear me down as well? How could I combat a downward spiral of expecting the worst and receiving the expected and more?
At this point in my teaching journey I had known the support of a true instructional leader, an advocate for students and teachers. I was experiencing the loss of that support to an lackluster leader, a rubber stamp and a bully. For almost a decade I had dealt with a school environment that locked teachers out of the building, offered a $50 budget to classroom teachers and chastised them for not doing more with less each year. I could handle a decade of the challenges, but an uncertain future without a leader who valued my contribution was too much. While I loved who I taught and who I taught with, I was seriously contemplating becoming a clock-in, clock-out teacher.
When I expressed my plans to a peer, she chastised me for giving up too easily on myself, my students and teaching. This started the current phase of my journey. I figured out that year my contributions to the classroom were valuable and that value was recognized elsewhere. When I was offered the journalism position at Lawrence Free State H.S., I was ecstatic.
After pulling myself out of (and being pulled out of) the doldrums, I recognized the value of this new direction in my journey. Never again would I allow my professional career to be dictated by circumstances outside my control. If I didn’t think classroom teachers were being supported, I volunteered for a grant committee. If the principal was retiring, by god I would volunteer to be on the interview committee for the next principal. If I felt teachers needed an advocate, I volunteered to be a building representative. If I felt the state was making a mistake by cutting career and tech education funding for journalism, I would join forces with fellow journalism teachers to push back on a done deal.
On this journey I have had friends and family members question why teachers complain so much. After all we get three months off in the summer and only have to be in the classroom seven hours a day. My response is I spend all but two weeks of my summer traveling with students, attending conferences, taking classes, or teaching. As for seven hour days, I know few teachers who can do the work that needs to be done in seven hours. Their families live with a parent whose attention is often split between grading papers, preparing for classes and paying attention to the needs of their own children.
Oh, but I’m “one of the good ones” I have been told. That statement says more about the ignorance of the person uttering it than about the teaching profession. It reminds me of a situation where my brother-in-law was making jokes about lazy Mexicans until he realized he was pounding nails on a hot tin roof with a Mexican-American. He gave the same lame remark... “oh, but you are one of the good ones.” Back peddling at that point does NOT make up for insulting my profession, those who have mentored me, those who have supported me and those who give everything they can give to students everyday.
I have heard even peers question how hard it is to actually be a FILL IN THE BLANK teacher. When I hear this I conjure images of other teaching positions... I shudder at the energy level and multi-tasking abilities it takes to be a kindergarten teacher... I cringe at managing 40+ stinking students in and out of a locker room... I mentally shut down at the idea of dealing with the hormonal experiment that is middle school teaching... and I defend my peers because until I have walked in their shoes I cannot understand their journey.
So in the end when I hear my teachers union called a bunch of thugs, I am proud because when if you take away a teachers voice what you will get is a clock-in, clock-out employee. If we are thugs, we are “the good ones” fighting for our students, our families and our communities.
In my somewhat limited world whatever solution is proffered to address a problem must be judged by how well it actually resolves the problem.
In the recent cases of gun violence against groups, the weapons used were legal, the individuals using them were to a greater or lesser extent mentally ill and the use of large magazines aggravated the severity of the crime.
The proposed legislative solutions at the national level address the large magazine issue (although IMHO in a way that does not solve it). It also may address the set of weapons used but probably not because there is no really adequate distinction between those weapons and weapons used historically and broadly for hunting or personal defense. Now we could and probably will discuss outlawing the “Bushmaster” rifle but I will bet that within a year a “Tree master” rife with almost indistinguishable features will be available that will still leave us with the problem. Semi-automatic rifles are a pretty homogenous set as to operation. IMHO the only way to achieve a culture where not one child will be lost to gun violence is to totally outlaw guns and to make a very, very determined effort to capture all the illegal ones out there somewhere. If one bothers to notice this latter grouping drives the majority of our gun violence. Nothing so far seriously proposed does that.
I note little focus on mental health issues. I recognize this is a difficult issue to address but a failure to do so will almost certainly lead to further repetitions of the mass murders we have experienced in the recent past. Now, I am not certain there is anything we can do to totally negate the problem but a more rigorous tie between state mental health systems and the federal gun registry would be a good start. To do that correctly federal help is IMHO needed. Now, encompassed within that is a determination of what DSM codes should lead to an inability to acquire a firearm. I suspect that effort would in and of itself open a debate as large as the one on gun control as an end in itself.
I will avoid the issue of whether our cultural has a predisposition to violence that feeds this problem. If there is one there is nothing so far seriously proposed that addresses that issue.
Now doing nothing as opposed to doing something is not what I propose. But – big but – we need to be honest about the limitation of the proposed solutions. It would be a real disservice if our ultimate effort primarily harasses innocent people desiring to acquire a firearm they are legally entitled to own while accomplishing nothing toward limiting gun violence.
The World Bank isn't known historically as an environmentally friendly institution in terms of the sorts of development projects it has funded. So when the World Bank gets concerned about the possible affects of global warming perhaps even the skeptics ought to pay attention.
Check out the World Bank's climate change site here: http://climatechange.worldbank.org/content/climate-change-report-warns-dramatically-warmer-world-century
In another blog I criticized one of the favored approaches to reduce carbon emissions in the US. So as to not get the inevitable “What is your solution” here is one. In 1996 when climate change became a visible issue there were about 2.9 billion of us world wide. Today there are just shy of 7 billion of us. Each of us generates carbon emissions. Doubling the numbers of us all other things equal doubles the carbon emissions. Do we need seven billion people? Not only do we generate carbon we are consuming ever greater amounts of the planets resources.
.There are a number of estimates of how much a person generates in carbon emissions but using recent government originated data for the US the average person generates 5 metric tons of carbon emission per year. For each of us with a life expectancy of 60 years that is about 300 tons per lifetime. A decline in our population of just 10% would reduce carbon emissions by something close to 30 million tons a year. That is a massive reduction in carbon (and a pressure relief on our global resources). For reference the entire coal fired infrastructure of the US generates 1.9 billion tons of carbon emissions per year
Not only do we not look to population reduction as an element of climate change mitigation, we subsidize having children. Our tax deductions and credits favor having children. The costs of rearing them have been increasingly transferred to the society at large rather than remaining with the parent (health care, education and the like). Perhaps as a first step we could at least be tax neutral about children and let market forces drive choice about the number in a given family.
Now there are other nations on our planet that have taken step to actively limit population growth. Of course that is a significant intrusion by the stare in things that are generally considered personal. I would submit that many of the proposed solutions to mitigate climate change are also very intrusive on personal choice. Why is limiting children not just considered one more such approach?
Returning our population to a level consistent with the point where climate change was identified as a problem (1960s) we could reduce our carbon emissions by an amount equal to half the emissions from our coal fired plants. Combining such an initiative with a responsible program to replace coal and we could essentially eradicate the contribution of coal to climate change without massive impact on our economy.
Why is population reduction off the table if the climate change problem is so dire that some of us want to imprison our elected officials for inaction? Are we serious or are the only solutions proffered those that redistribute income to favored parts of the electorate and disproportionally punish coal burning states (why are so many red) for burning coal?
.Could it be that we (the citizens) are not rejecting the call of our scientists but find serious fault with the solutions they put forth
Let us examine the proposed carbon tax. It is sold based on the premise that it would yield charges more in keeping with the true costs of the carbon we use and that such pricing would lead to better choices. Really? Just exactly how do we in Kansa not use coal for our utilities in the immediate future? We have no free market in which to choose.
At a reasonable rate increase it will take upwards of a generation to replace our coal plants with renewable energy supported by something like gas turbines to fill in when there is no wind. We will not have a robust power distribution system for at least a decade so until then we can not even buy from most other places. From where does the alternative come?
The reality is that we will pay through the nose for a carbon tax while those in Washington state using hydroelectric power will not. If this is a national problem it would seem that a national investment in replacing high carbon generators is more appropriate then a market solution where there is no market.
Now to further discredit this approach we have those that want to turn the carbon tax into a massive financial redistribution process. So instead of a national effort we have a process that penalizes those using coal and then further redistributes the incomes of the middle class in the coal burning regions.
Why would those burning coal want to sign up for this approach? Where is the shared sacrifice? Why are we not approaching this challenge as a nation instead of using punitive methods to “punish” the evil coal users?
Just maybe it is not the message transmitted by our scientists but the highly inequitable proposed solution that is causing people to hesitate in jumping into the deep end of this pool.
Recently, the city revealed some of the planning for the new sports complex proposed for West Lawrence. We are assured this is a good deal. I have no reason to doubt the intentions of our lawgivers but I have a nagging concern.
I have not seen any form of prioritized long range plan for major infrastructure investments by local governments. I have heard the city is working to produce such an effort but in its absence just exactly what are we deferring or worse what will require major funding in addition to this effort.
I am aware of a possible shortfall in our public safety infrastructure. There are unfulfilled needs for our mental health services. Our overall existing infrastructure is in need of repair and replacement. We have committed to a number of shared investments such as the restoration of the farmland property. There could be more – much more!
Additionally our school district could be facing a need for major resources in addition to the evolving capital plan if our governor is successful in pushing school funding down to the local level. Our city and county may be forced into significant resource expenditures to replace social services no longer provided by leaner state expenditures.
It would seem to me that the real responsibility of the city leadership is not to “sell” the benefits of the sports complex but to assure the citizenry that they have considered all reasonable future needs and have determined this is the best project to fund near term.
More importantly, assurances should be provided that we are not creating a major future obligation that will drive property taxes (already among the highest in the state) to levels causing real pain for our homeowners.
Just because there is an existing funding stream does not in any way support this project avoiding priority consideration. That money can be redirected by the electorate to any number of needs.
The magnitude of the proposed investment and the lack of visibility into what resources our local governments may need for the complete project and for future public needs suggest that as a minimum this project be submitted to the public accompanied by an initial effort at a long range investment plan. April 2013 seems a good point to address such a major investment commitment in a collaborative manner.
The wind picks up leaves
swirls them around
teens commit pranks
while adults act like clowns
You make chicken chili
heat up spiced cider
put beer in the fridge
stock up on candy
Carve pumpkins to
look like a fright
bring in the cat
turn on the porch light
Get in your car
Dirt roads wind you around
Take you far out of town
Where haystacks seem bleak
Until scarecrows peek
from around them!
Witches on horned owls
screech high overhead
Demons pop up from
under the hood
Clouds cover the moon
You hear a loud thud
You have a flat tire
in three feet of mud
You arrive back at home
It's time to disrobe
You sneeze once or twice
You've caught a damn cold!
Have one last beer
with your favorite candy
Pull on warm socks
Put your feet up.
Oops, turn out the light
Blow out the candle
Put out the cat
Spirits creep in, see you're asleep
Let themselves out with
hardly a peep.
Your snoring is loud
you're all tuckered out
Your dog jumps into bed
howling in fright!
Realization sinks in
it's gonna ba a long frekin night
On Halloween night in your neighborhood
(10-28-2007 - Ronda Miller)
Friends of mine seem surprised, and certainly questioning, when they learn I'm pro life. The questions my stance, which is a life style choice not a political siding, garner include the standard ones. I'm asked why I feel it's okay to tell someone else what they have to do with their body - my response is that I'm not telling anyone what they should do with their own body, just what they shouldn't do to a body too small and defenseless to stand up for itself.
Hasn't that been the American way since the beginning of the American dream? Don't Americans put themselves into harms way and travel across the sea to protect those who don't have the physical abilities to defend themselves against cutting swords or toxic poisons another entity uses on them?
It's easy for me to answer the 'when life begins' question. My response is that as a human development major I was taught that life begins with the zygote. I believe that.
I appreciate people come from different belief systems, lifestyle choices, opinions, cultures and religions.
In a perfect world the smallest form of human life would be cherished, protected, coddled, nourished. Once that perfect world of respect for the most fragile of human life begins, then our climate of a world at war begins to change.
Our focus shifts and we begin to look inward towards the smallest movement, the slightest sound of a beating heart.
I don't want or expect the reverse of our present culture where women for the most part retain secondary rights in respect to equal pay, sexual bias, and exploitation. They don't need to be put on a pedestal.
But our culture would be vastly improved if our focus was placed on the family - the smallest of life's form was cherished to the ultimate end of giving it the optimal in physical, emotional and educational care. Women wouldn't be subjected to the fear of rape or incest because they would be cherished as the sacred houses where honored life begins.
In a perfect world no one would need to defend their reasons NOT to kill an unprotected life.
I know we don't live in a perfect world, but let us begin doing what we can. It starts at home - it begins within.