Local Columns

Opinion: Democrats’ playbook wins in Wichita

Wichita’s mayoral election is supposed to be nonpartisan, but that virtually disappeared in this year’s campaign. Mayor-elect Brandon Whipple has served since 2012 as a Democratic member of the Kansas House. Before that, he was vice-chair of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party. His ...

Opinion: The nation’s and Kansas’ report cards

The “nation’s report card,” or National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), was released Oct. 30. Results show stagnant progress in what students know and can do on the national level and a disappointing decline in Kansas scores. NAEP is administered every two years and is the ...

Opinion: Activists threaten judicial independence

Two justices of the Kansas Supreme Court recently announced their retirements, and well-established constitutional procedures are now underway to fill those vacancies. In a desperate, preemptive strike anti-abortion activists interjected themselves into the selection process and declared two ...

Opinion: Prison crisis also a mental health crisis

Kansas faces a prison crisis of crowded facilities and escalating costs to taxpayers. Fixing that requires addressing mental health and the grim reality that our approach to the mentally ill is often to imprison them. In fairness, America has evolved on this issue. Historically, states often ...

Opinion: Ranked choice voting makes sense

As the dust settled after the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary election, Secretary of State Kris Kobach defeated incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer by 350 votes, of 128,838 total votes (40.6%). Lagging far behind were moderate Jim Barnett (8.8%), Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer (7.8%) and three ...

Opinion: Public assault on science continues — to our peril

With the deluge of news from the current impeachment turmoil in Washington, one could be excused for missing the continuing assault on science from the administration and its supporters. In August, in explaining his no-exception anti-abortion stance, Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King claimed that ...

Opinion: Lack of sleep hits urban poor hardest

Sleepless in Kansas? Maybe not, if you are a student at Emporia State. ESU has contracted with a private company to install two sleeping pods. They are designed to be dark, quiet and clean. Pods must be reserved in advance, the areas are secure, private and monitored, and the pods are cleaned ...

Opinion: Early childhood education is crucial

“When an ir-re-sistible force, meets an old im-mov-able object like this, you can bet just as sure as you live, something’s got to give.” Johnny Mercer wrote it. Frank Sinatra sang it, and we all fell in love with its optimistic take on inevitability. Today, the romantic 1950s ...

Opinion: Charting a path forward on taxes

A couple weeks ago Gov. Laura Kelly made good on her commitment to initiate a comprehensive review of the Kansas tax structure by establishing a Council on Tax Reform, co-chaired by two former state senators, Republican Steve Morris of Hugoton and Democrat Janis Lee of Kensington. Kelly called ...

Opinion: Address racial disparities in our prisons

To address prison overcrowding, Kansas must understand the racial disparities that exist in our system of mass incarceration, how they fuel our ballooning prison population, and potential remedies. Our state prison population does not reflect the Kansas population on race. According to 2018 ...

Opinion: Empty building, empty government

It just stands there, all 13 floors, abandoned and alone. Once the hub of Kansas’ administrative activity, the Robert B. Docking State Office Building is empty and orphaned, its previously vibrant departments now slimmed down and parceled out to rented space and other cities. In the late ...

Opinion: Is the 3rd District in Kansas anymore?

What lessons does the success of Congresswoman Sharice Davids hold for the rest of Kansas? Davids became Kansas’ only Democrat in Congress after defeating incumbent Kevin Yoder by nearly 10 points in 2018. Democrats had taken notice after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton narrowly won ...

Opinion: Helping school redesign to succeed

Kansas Can, launched by the Kansas State Board of Education, is a visionary project to create more effective pre-K-12 learning. Begun in 2017 with seven schools, today Kansas Can has grown to include 66 of the 286 districts in Kansas. Aiming at statewide, overall school redesign, the board ...

Opinion: Incarceration rates a call for reform

As policymakers manage the daily reality of Kansas’ prison crisis, let’s understand the core issue and its implications. Kansas has a growing prison population but lags other states on criminal justice reforms that could curb that growth, ease managing prisons and reduce budget strain from ...

Opinion: About that ‘I’m not a scientist, but I think …’

The administration continued its assault on the U.S. environment on Aug. 12 when it watered down the regulations on protecting endangered and threatened species. Its actions are a thumb-your-nose response at the United Nations report in May that warned of a million species of plants and animals ...

Opinion: Lawmakers must speak out on Trump

Former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill famously said “All politics is local.” He was referring specifically to congressional races, where responding to local issues from a national perspective — farm subsidy payments, Social Security checks, small business loans, etc. — was ...

Opinion: Anxiety is a public health problem

I can perceive the increasing anxiety among my students. Today, they come to the office not only to discuss courses, internships and post-graduation plans, but also to apologize for missed classes and changing behavior due to new doses of medication, personal and family drama, and other ...

Opinion: New K-12 initiative holds promise

Last week 3,100 offenders were released from federal prison as a result of bipartisan criminal justice reform that will reduce prison populations, provide social services and cut federal incarceration costs. This restructure, years in coming, was helped by an effort from industrialist and ...

Opinion: Reform how vacancies are filled

The news that a Kansas legislator is resigning midterm for health reasons presents a good opportunity to think about the process that Kansas uses to fill legislative vacancies. This is probably not an enthralling topic to most, but it matters because that process is a rotten anachronism that ...

Opinion: End GOP experiments with poor

Most Kansans are aware of former Gov. Sam Brownback’s failed tax experiment, but fewer know of his equally flawed experimentation with the lives of Kansas children and families in poverty. Beginning in 2011, Brownback initiated restrictions on federal aid through “temporary assistance ...