The Wichita school district is one of the biggest on the plains. This fall’s official enrollment was announced this week at 50,639 students. That’s up 536 students from last year. U-S-D 259 enrollment has grown by nearly 16-hundred students over the last ten school years. It’s at its highest level in 37 years, since 1975.
Public schools take plenty of criticism. But the truth is, the challenges for public education today are different from those when I graduated from Wichita schools, or even from when my two children graduated from North High.
Today’s teachers face a diverse student population that is not seen in the smaller districts or the parochial schools. And today’s Wichita students don’t go home to Ozzie and Harriet, or June and ward Cleaver.
Yet excuses won’t get the job done. We want young people in U-S-D 259 to achieve the best education possible.
Those of us who’ve gone before are watching … with concern … and pride.
Our thought for today is from Will Rogers:
“The schools ain’t what they used to be and never was.”
Uncertainty by Steve McIntosh,posted Sep 27 2012 1:05AM
There’s a word I keep hearing in the news and in my talks with elected officials and business leaders: uncertainty.
When I ask why the recovery from the Great Recession is taking so long … why unemployment lingers above 8% … why Americans are not buying, selling, and manufacturing more … the answer keeps coming back “uncertainty” over what’s going on in Washington.
I’m told uncertainty over health care and taxes is holding back business.
To be sure, political gridlock in Washington is a fact of life. Today’s politicians are not inclined to work with their opposition for something as meaningless (to them) as the good of the country. I have serious doubts whether many of these people actually know the meaning of the word “work” in any context.
The federal legislature has been stalled for months, waiting to see who will win the election.
Health care, energy policy, deficits and the debt … why worry about that stuff until absolutely necessary … until there’s a national crisis?
Our thought for today is from Fred Allen:
“Committee – a group of men who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was pretty close when he talked about the “47%” of Americans who pay no federal income tax. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says it’s actually 46 percent.
But it’s tougher to agree that all of those people consider themselves “victims” … always looking out for a government handout of some kind. Many of them will probably vote for Mr. Romney.
Some of them got senior citizen tax breaks, some are low-income, and some got tax breaks for college tuition. The Center’s study says among those who don’t owe, 9 out of 10 make $50,000 or less. 4,000 households earning more than a million dollars a year didn’t pay federal income tax last year.
I can’t agree that everyone who doesn’t pay federal taxes is a lazy loser looking for a government nanny.
I also concede that during a long political campaign it’s easy for any candidate to say something confusing.
Our thought for today is from Robert Benchley:
“Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.”
It’s clean, it’s infinitely renewable, and it’s nearly constantly available in Kansas. But there are those in Washington … including a Representative from one of the windiest districts in the U-S … who say government subsidies for wind power development is a bad idea.
Siemens is laying off nearly half its Kansas workers, 146 employees at the company’s wind turbine plant in Hutchinson … which opened for business in 2010. The company sites changing market conditions and uncertainty about a tax credit for wind turbine installations.
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran blames the layoffs on uncertainty coming from Washington. Kansas 4th District Representative Mike Pompeo has joined other Republicans in pushing for an end to all energy tax credits. Pompeo has said government should not be involved in picking “winners” and “losers” with the tax code. We presume Mr. Pompeo also favors ending subsidies for oil and gas, which President Obama has requested.
Our thought for today is from Bernard Berenson:
“Governments last as long as the under-taxed can defend themselves from the over-taxed.”
It was yet another opportunity for comedians to make jokes about Kansas. A man from Manhattan challenged President Obama’s right to be on the ballot for president because the president is not a citizen. When Joe Montgomery took his suspicions to the all-Republican State Objections Board, it got him so much intimidation that he dropped his challenge.
Too late. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Koback says the Board takes all cases seriously, even those that don’t seem to be too … serious.
So, last Monday the Board looked at a few documents and determined that the president’s name will stay on the Kansas ballot.
Of course, this won’t slow down those who choose not to believe any amount of documentation that Barack Obama is the legally-elected president.
But I consider Kobach about as Republican as they come, and he said “that settles the issue” … and “I have no doubts now”.
Our thought for today is from Arthur Golden:
“A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.”
As Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, it might not have been “elegantly stated”, but he doesn’t deny the thrust of his comments to donors. He said 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes consider themselves “victims” and they will vote for Barack Obama, and not for Mitt Romney. He said the President’s approach is “attractive to people who are not paying taxes”.
I don’t care for the word “victims” because I believe too many Americans think of themselves as victims. If your income is so low that you don’t pay federal taxes, chances are you view your economic situation as quite negative. But are there not wealthy Americans who view themselves as victims of taxes that are too high and a government with too many rules?
The man elected president will represent all Americans … including those who consider themselves victims of one stripe or another. The challenge is to break the culture of victim-hood and remind us that we are all Americans … not “we” and “them”.
Our thought for today is from Marilyn Manson:
“We live in a society of victimization, where people are much more comfortable being victimized than actually standing up for themselves.”
It has long been my personal opinion that the United States of America should stay out of the Middle East … period! Obviously, our dependence on foreign oil has driven our national policy in that part of the world. It has now cost America thousands of lives and trillions in treasure.
Take Afghanistan … a loose collection of primitive Muslim tribes with no natural resource beyond poppy seeds to make heroin. This backward sand pit is an excellent place to train terrorists to attack the United States … because of our involvement in the Middle East. Oil, again.
Instead of getting in, doing the job, and getting out, our rulers decided to build a nation. Eleven years and two-thousand dead Americans later, the people we trained are shooting American soldiers and hundreds of people take to the streets of Kabul to shout “Death to America”. This is absolute insanity!
The Pentagon’s moving people out of that awful place, but not fast enough suit me.
Our thought for today is from Martin Luther King Jr.:
“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was quick to criticize President Obama when an American embassy and a consulate were attacked … and our people killed … in Libya and Egypt. While I understand his intention to clarify the differences between him and the president, sharing opinions too quickly in that kind of national emergency is not a good idea.
There is always a lot of rumor and hearsay in a story like this one, and talking on the record before the smoke clears and calm heads prevail can be a big mistake … especially for a man who wants to be the leader of the free world. Romney would have done better to wait a day or two, and maybe even ask the State Department for some kind of special briefing before sharing his opinions.
This is not a defense of Obama’s foreign policy.
But my feeling is a rush to judgment on this kind of story is … well … notpresidential.
Our thought for today is from James Gordon Bennett:
“Remember, son, many a good story has been ruined by over-verification.”
The attack in Libya and the mob violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo point out a huge gap between the way Americans view liberty and many others in the world.
A person makes a movie that someone believes offends their religion and thousands if not millions of people go bonkers in the Middle East. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are not exclusive to the U-S-A. But history shows us the American brand of civil liberty is unknown in many parts of the world.
The American system of justice protects free expression, even when it offends our own citizens. Americans may become agitated over what they see or hear in public discourse, but we rarely maim or murder in our anger.
Last week’s violence proves the Middle East is still a very dangerous place, filled with religious zealots. I believe those who truly understand America love us, no matter where they live or what their religion may be.
When’s the last time anybody’s embassy was attacked by a mob in the U-S-A?
Our thought for today is from Robert Jackson:
“The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish.”
Over a two-month period more than 3,000 people around the region responded to a survey asking for the three top priorities for the Wichita area for the next three years.
The results … develop more Downtown Wichita activities and events for individuals and families of all ages … diversify the local economy by keeping industries already here and recruiting new jobs in new industries … and increase the number of people in the region who advance their post-high school education, either through degrees, certificates or re-training programs.
These could be the top priorities for almost any American city. But maybe other communities would mention lower taxes or better streets or better public services.
The Priority Project has presented a limited, easily-understandable “play book” for civic leaders to consult; a sort of short “mission statement”. Should I use the word “focus”?
Experience tells me getting most Wichitans pointed in about the same direction is a big challenge.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
It actually starts early Friday mornings as the bars close down in Wichita’s Old Town. The police radios come to life with urgent cops’ voices … calling for back-up … calling for ambulances … trying to control the noisy crowds that can be heard in the background.
Four weekends in a row police have answered “shots fired” calls in Old Town. Last time, the bullets passed near the police officers.
Police say they’re doing all they can, short of flooding the area with dozens of officers at closing time. But there are no guarantees that would stop the clowns with the guns, and there are other night spots closing down in the city at the same time.
Business owners in Old Town really don’t need the kind of news coverage gunfire creates in the most popular entertainment area in Wichita. Everyone wants to feel safe in Old Town, a source of great community pride. Can anything else be done to ensure public safety? Sorry, I’m at a loss on this one.
Our thought for today is from James Thurber:
“There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.”
It was in early September 1971 that I first wrote and recorded a McIntosh Report for the radio. Over the past 41 years the commentary has rested during time when I worked outside radio briefly and time when I didn’t work at all. But my best reckoning is that I have aired more than 9,800 McIntosh Reports.
There are some who think it’s about 98-hundred too many commentaries. If these one-minute daily programs stimulate you to look at your own opinions, then I’ve accomplished my goal. I’m not looking for total agreement from listeners.
I always find it strange that some listeners resent my getting one minute of air time for opinion each day, while other radio talkers get three hours. I’m afraid most people favor freedom of speech … as long as they agree with what they’re hearing.
The Kansas Association of Broadcasters has honored this program with 24 awards over the years, so my peers must think I’m pretty good at presenting my ideas on the air.
Our thought for today is from Hansell B. Duckett:
“What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to.”
Now what? by Steve McIntosh,posted Sep 12 2012 1:14AM
The conventions are over and the race for president is officially underway. The polls indicate the majority of voters have made up their minds, and I doubt they’ll see anything in the next few weeks to change their positions.
So Romney and Obama are actually battling for a small number of independent-minded people who haven’t decided. And they need those voters in the so-called “swing states”. One-on-one debates should help define the differences between the candidates.
Has the President done the best we can expect, during extremely difficult economic times? Is four years enough? Has he gone too far with the health care mandates?
Does Mitt Romney have a plan that can speed up the recovery? Are Americans ready for a different basic direction, toward the right? Does Romney really know anything or care anything about the non-wealthy, the other 99%?
Right now it’s a very close race. And we’re sure to see and hear scores of negative campaign ads from the PACs.
Our thought for today is from Laurence J. Peter:
“There is no stigma attached to recognizing a bad decision in time to install a better one.”
September 11th, 2001 was one of the lowest days in my life. I didn’t have much time to reflect in the days immediately after the attack, as I was kept busy with our news coverage. But I remember sitting on my porch swing that following weekend and feeling quite depressed. I simply couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do something that awful to the U-S-A and Americans.
I agreed with President Bush’s initial responses to 9/11. But as time went by it became clear the operation in Afghanistan was harmed by battling between the C-I-A and the military. Getting our nation’s intelligence branches to work together was a major challenge for President Bush.
I flatly disagreed with the invasion of Iraq. And I have always been critical of the decision to put two wars on a credit card.
Bin Laden is dead … and our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq is winding down, and that’s good. But the loss of life and the criminal fiscal irresponsibility of our politicians leave a foul taste in my mouth … now eleven years after 9/11.
Our thought for today is from Jackie Joyner-Kersee:
“It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”
Last week’s Gallup Poll indicated that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney got no “bounce” from his party’s nominating convention. His support was 47% going into the convention and 46% coming out. The good news for Romney is that he and President Obama are in a virtual tie in that poll. The bad news would be an Obama “bounce” after the Democratic convention.
In 2008, John McCain got a 6% post-convention survey bounce, while Barack Obama got a 4% boost. In 2008, Gore and Bush each got 8% bounces. In 1992, Bill Clinton got a 16% bounce in his campaign against George H. W. Bush.
The clock is running out on Romney, and he needs a terrific two-minute drill if he’s going to win. It would appear he still hasn’t connected with the hearts and heads of the independents, who he is going to need in this close, close race. He only has about seven weeks to get it done.
Our thought for today is from Abraham Lincoln:
“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”
I’ve known Jean Schodorf a long time. She was always open and candid with me when she served on the Wichita Board of Education for 12 years. I interviewed her occasionally during her service as state senator from my district … a post she had held since 2001. She was chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee.
In a nasty primary this fall, Wichita City Council member Michael O’Donnell defeated Schodorf for the Republican nomination.
Jean recently announced that she is leaving the Republican Party, and will register as a Democrat or Independent. She says there’s no room in the Republican Party for “people who actually think in moderation”.
Jean’s problem is that she is a problem-solver, not a dig-in-your heels, stubborn, narrow-minded, my-way-or-the-highway type politician. The message from the Republican Party is clear: they want people who all think alike, all talk alike, and never compromise on any issue.
It’s the same negative, childish philosophy we see in Washington.
What a pity.
Our thought for today is from Abraham Maslow:
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
As the Democrats wrap up their national convention this week, President Obama faces a big challenge in the national job picture. Unemployment has been stuck at over 8% for many months. And a high jobless rate has spelled trouble in the past for presidents seeking re-election.
When the first President Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992, the jobless rate was 7.4% on Election Day. When President Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980, unemployment was 7.5%, and 30-year mortgage rates were above 14%. President Reagan survived a challenge from Walter Mondale and won a second term despite a jobless rate of 7.2%.
There are some who say a high unemployment rate is just part of the new economy after the Great Recession. Others argue that it doesn’t need to be so, and that a change in the Oval Office could help put Americans to work. President Obama’s challenge is to convince voters he is not ready to throw in the towel, and has some kind of plan to lower the jobless rate.
I was glad to hear Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talking about creating 12 million jobs during his speech at the G-O-P convention. Of course, presidents don’t really “create” jobs, but we’re to understand Romney’s policies would help create the conditions to create jobs. And I think he’s hitting the right theme, even though it doesn’t have much “sizzle” … as they say in advertising.
I doubt we’ll hear much serious discussion over the next eight weeks about tackling the issue of financial responsibility. We’ll hear about cutting government spending and who should receive tax cuts or increases, but not much about really solving the problem.
A serious discussion would involve moderating so-called entitlements and increasing revenue. A serious discussion would involve asking for a little sacrifice now, to avoid a great deal of pain for everyone down the road.
For thirty years politicians have pretty much avoided fiscal responsibility, and I have no confidence Obama and Romney are going to seriously talk about it now.
Our thought for today is from Abraham Lincoln:
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
Stay busy by Steve McIntosh,posted Sep 4 2012 12:58AM
More thoughts on working … on this day after Labor Day.
“Stay busy … it makes the time go faster”. That was a piece of advice my late father gave me when he visited me on my first paid job. I took his words to heart. My colleagues over the years will tell you I don’t allow much time for idle chit-chat, primarily because I maintain a very busy … sometimes hectic … schedule.
In this business where spontaneity is encouraged, I follow a written schedule of basic tasks that I perform before every morning show, including a space for a check mark.
My deadlines are hourly, with minute-to-minute deadlines during the three hours of the Steve & Ted morning show. I don’t miss deadlines or cues.
People tell me being on the radio sounds like fun … and it is! But in order for me to relax and create the interesting and amusing and informative part, I’ve got to be sure the basics are accomplished. I “stay busy”.
Our thought for today is from Henry David Thoreau:
“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”
What better time than Labor Day to share a few thoughts with you about working?
When I hear people talk about “class warfare”, they are often people who are paid a great deal of money. I’m certain many Americans envy the wealthy, but there is also a feeling that many have attained wealth that other people created through their hard work and creativity. People who work hard for every buck may resent those who are blessed with great wealth complaining that their taxes are too high.
Work has pretty much defined my life, right after my wife and children. I started earning a paycheck at the age of 16 and have only experienced two interruptions of a few months each … which I detested.
My wife and I have not accumulated great wealth, but no one’s ever handed us a thing.
Shelley and I laugh when we hear people say about their work, “it’s not personal”.
We believe for every conscientious professional, all work is “personal”.
Our thought for today is from Don Marquis:
“When a man tells you he got rich through hard work, ask him: ‘Whose?’”