Editorial Summary: Kansas

Kansas City Star. November 15, 2022.

Editorial: A Question for the GOP in Kansas, Missouri and Beyond: Are We Still Trump’s Party?

For many Americans, Donald Trump’s decision to run for president means two more years of the capricious former president’s exhaustive approach to politics: exaggeration, untruths, harsh language, and disregard for the law.

For most Republicans, on the other hand, Trump’s campaign announced on Tuesday is welcome and necessary. It is a moment of fundamental decision: are we Trump or something else?

The GOP’s answer to these questions is unclear at this time. “America’s comeback is starting right now,” Trump said Tuesday, announcing his presidential campaign in a familiar blizzard of half-truths and unsubstantiated claims.

As has been the case since 2015, many Republicans have joined the line. “I am proud to support Donald J. Trump as President in 2024,” New York Rep. Elise Stefanik said in a statement. “We shouldn’t bench our star quarterback at halftime,” wrote Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida (though interestingly, Gaetz digressed from attending Trump’s presidential announcement.)

Others were more cautious. Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and John Cornyn of Texas said they would not endorse anyone until the nomination process was complete. “I want someone who will unite our party,” said GOP Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

Still others have taken the nihilistic approach. Missouri’s own Sen. Josh Hawley suggests the GOP should be “blown up,” replaced with, uh, something. “We’re not a majority party,” he said this week, “unless we can appeal to (working-class) voters.”

(We’re pretty sure these voters don’t like raised fists and riots, or senators skedaddling when things get hot. Or senators allegedly breaking the law.)

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, blamed by some for the party’s failure in the election, decided to challenge Kentucky minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was blamed by some for his party’s failure in the election. The fight for a new Speaker of the House of Representatives is developing into a Trump-no-Trump affair.

All of this reflects a deep confusion in the Republican Party about the importance of Trump and what has been learned during his chaotic four years as presidency. Well-known conservative voices — the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, National Review, and others — have looked into the anti-Trump future and like what they see. Some seem less confident.

The party must spend the coming months examining those years and Trump’s behavior during his tenure in the White House and beyond, and then making a decision: should we or shouldn’t we embrace Trump’s shaky populist approach?

Alternatives are available. Some are Trump in a better suit. Other candidates are thoughtful and focused, willing to support mainstream republicanism (and even some of Trump’s policies) while shedding Trump’s penchant for humiliation and casual deception.

We hope these discussions will include a reflection on what voters said in the midterm elections. As it stands now, Republicans will have a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives and remain a minority in the Senate.

That’s hardly a rejection of the Republican message, but it’s also not a ringing endorsement from the party. Trump-backed candidates who embraced the big lie, or who danced with QAnon madness, or who attempted to be Trumpier than Trump have largely failed, up and down.

The voters were extraordinarily clear: candidates should focus on real problems, real solutions and compromises. Americans are fed up with bombast and stupidity. There’s no time to lose. There’s no place for politicians to squander it.

How does Donald Trump fit into all of this? That’s what Republicans need to find out now. Every Republican-elect should now state clearly whether they support the former president and why – or why not. (Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas declined to comment on his typical stance. Missouri Senator-elect Eric Schmitt was equally stunned.)

Speeches are held. Debates are held. Finally, a vote is taken. And we will know one way or the other.

That’s how it still works in this country, whether Donald Trump and his supporters know it or not.

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Topeka Capital Journal. November 18, 2022.

Editorial: Changes in Kansas High School Diploma requirements are wise moves for graduates’ futures

It is official. Beginning in 2027, Kansas will have new requirements for earning a high school diploma.

Rafael Garcia of the Topeka Capital-Journal reports, after more than a year of discussion, that the Kansas State Board of Education has approved a new set of degree requirements that students must meet before receiving a diploma. The board requires students to earn at least 21 units, although many local school boards require more.

Among these units, students are now required to take at least 1 unit of an elective in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which may include Computer Science, Advanced Mathematics and Science, Robotics, Technology and Agriculture. and at least 0.5 units of a financial literacy class. The Board also voted to retain the 1 unit fine arts minimum that was added in the early 2000s.

We think these are good changes.

The addition of financial literacy and STEM courses helps students become better prepared adults. Exposing children to art makes them more inclusive citizens.

How many times have we seen, or heard, or friends and peers say they wish they had learned what to do with their finances in high school? High school is the perfect time to learn how a loan works, when and how to open a savings account, and maybe file a simple tax return.

How many of our friends have said they wish high school would teach them more life skills like these instead of algebra?

We also ensure that students have opportunities to engage with music and art. Creativity helps build innovation. Kansas will always need innovative thinkers.

Here we do that. We plant seeds that will later benefit our citizens. These students will be our future leaders, workers, doctors, teachers, builders and bankers. We must never lose sight of that. We should always strive to improve the education of our children. Education is something that can never be taken away from you, no matter the circumstances. It lasts a lifetime.

We applaud the board for these direct actions. But we have to build on that.

We hope that the Kansas legislature will support us as well. Providing more than adequate funding for our schools. We hope our local communities will continue to support our children’s education by staying active, providing assistance when asked and supporting our teachers.

We hope that parents will remain involved and interested in their children’s education.

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