A4 THE HAYS DAILY NEWS OPINION THURSDAY, JUNE 15,2006 Sex education 'Abstinence until marriage' reflects state BOE members' beliefs, not responsibility I t appears odd that we feel compelled to remind certain members of the Kansas State Board of Education about their own mission, but after the board's latest action, we believe we must. On Wednesday, the board passed a new policy on the teaching of human sexuality. By a 6-4 vote, with the usual conservative majority providing the six votes, public schools in Kansas now will be encouraged to teach "abstinence until marriage" — with an allowance for discussing birth control and sexually transmitted diseases. This is a more reasonable approach than the "abstinence only" advocated by some board members earlier this year. It reflects recognition that sex education should provide information that students need in today's day and age — not in some perfect world where unmarried youth never engage in such activity. But the driving force for some board members behind this policy remains the same as it did for "abstinence only." As board member Kathy Martin, R- Clay Center, said: "It is the Christian message, after all, of what we want young people to do." Perhaps others such as Martin can find the "Christian" component to the public education body's mission statement. We couldn't. Here is what the Kansas State BOE is committed to: "To assist in fulfilling its responsibility to provide direction and leadership for the supervision of all state educational interests under its jurisdiction, the Kansas State Board of Education has adopted as its mission promoting student academic achievement through vision, leadership, opportunity, accountability and advocacy. The State Board believes that the key to ensuring the fulfillment of its mission lies in helping schools to work with families and communities to prepare students for success." That's the entire statement. No mention of a Judeo-Christian moral compass. Not a word about guiding personal life choices to mirror those of the sitting board members. There is mention of "advocacy," but we believe that's supposed to mean advocacy for students — not free reign for the board members to advocate their own religious beliefs. Schools should encourage abstinence. It is a responsbile approach. But encourage it from a health or social perspective and you'll find a lot more Kansans would find the BOE's decisions palatable. The fact that this policy is merely guidance for individual school districts to consider as they prepare their sex-ed curricula also is to be commended. It is not a mandate that withholds funding if not met. Nor should it. But as we are reminded daily of the separation of church and state, board members should exercise caution in explaining what they're up to. It is not within the purview of the Kansas State Board of Education to promote religion. We would encourage all 10 board members in Topeka to revisit their own mission statement at the next board meeting. And then force themselves to articulate how any proposed policies in the future fit within their own guidelines. It just might prevent foolhardy comments from escaping their hallowed chambers. Editorial by Patrick E. Lowry plowry0dallynews.net The editorials represent the opinion and institutional voice of The Hays Daily News but are signed by the author for the reader's information. Guest editorials are from other newspapers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Hays Daily News. Other content on this page represents the views of the signed columnist, cartoonist or letter-writer. The Opinion Page is intended to be a community forum. Guest editorials and syndicated columnists are selected to present a variety of opinion. I til t ,-• n . _- T _-Ity Tgxas — Iraq and the media, the inedia and Iraq — over and over. Last week was supposed to be a good media week for Iraq — Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was dead. Taken out, we said, by a combination of American and Iraqi troops with Jordanian intelligence. The churlish might note this was the second time the American military had announced Zarqawi's death — but, hey, we've announced the capture of Osama's No. 2 guy at least seven or eight times. Others claimed Zarqawi was never that important to begin with, indeed had been built up by our side. Still, that's a goal for our side, as they say in World Cup play. Then reality got a bit bumpy Zarqawi wasn't exactly dead when we found him. We put him on a stretcher and cleaned him up — the fog of war intervened. I distinctly remember people predicting the first time we killed Zarqawi that it wouldn't make much difference, so I presume they did it again. Thus, we get to revisit the old cackle over whether we are fighting international terrorists who have flocked to Iraq or a native uprising against our occupation of the country. Can't even agree on what's going on. I'm so used to one side saying this and the other side saying the opposite that I didn't even blink over the differences. I did, however, come to a screeching halt over the right's reaction to news of a triple suicide at Guantanamo. A great chorus of, "How dare they?" seemed to follow this dismal news. My local paper said, "Detainees hid their plans to die... Guantanamo officials were fooled ... Inquiry looks at how to prevent other deaths." Now it seems to me one might have any number of reactions to news of suicides to hold MiHy ,,..!• Ml,;, COMMENTARY at Guantanamo, but righteous indignation is not one of them. Most of these prisoners have been held for four years now without possibility of charge, trial or parole. I should think they would be suicidal. I'm sorry we failed to prevent it. You know what? This is getting silly. The debate over this war is unrealistic and even ludicrous. (A) It is not going well. (B) It keeps getting worse. (C) Yes, it is possible that if we stay there long enough, it will get better eventually (D) There is no evidence suggesting that beyond hope. A particularly acrid growth from this fruitless debate is the contempt for and dismissal of public opinion in other countries. "So what if we have alienated public opinion in nations throughout the Middle East?" seems to be the attitude. "Who cares what they think?" If I wanted to win a global war on terror, I'd sure be concerned about what they think. I would hope the right would at least be concerned over the damage being done to the American military by this war. Morale, my ass. I think it's time the antiwar side in this country started using a few threats of its own — specifically, about who's going to take the blame for this when it's over. Forget the liberal tradition of forgiveness. I say, hold this grudge. Molly Ivlns is a columnist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Reader Forum Beliefs aside, homosexuals deserve equal treatment I found the Opinion page in Sunday's Hays Daily News to be very entertaining. I read with great interest both the editorials by Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Lowry, and I have to say I agree with Mr. Montgomery's point of view. Fred Phelps and his Klan (I spell it that way for a reason) have no business protesting at military funerals. Of course, he has the right to do so, but common decency should dictate that families of deceased soldiers or civilians have the right to say their final goodbyes to their loved one in peace and dignity. I also read the letter from John Cody, who seems to be in full support of Phelps and his Klan. I could go on forever about gay rights and all that, but I'll keep it short and simple. Homosexuals are citizens of this country, and as such, they are entitled to the same rights and privileges as the rest of us. This, in my opinion, should also include having their relationships recognized by local and federal governments. Christians and right-wing conservatives say this goes against the traditional values and morals taught to us in the Bible that marriage is a union only between a man and a woman. Well, while that might be true, not everyone in this country chooses to live by the Bible, gay or not. Just because they choose not to does not exclude them from the rights entitled to us in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In the first century after our country was founded, the right to vote was exclusively a white man's right. Susan B. Anthony fought for and won women the right to vote, as well they should. Then it was only white men and women who could vote until the 1960s. I know that homosexuality is not a race or ethnicity, but they are still human beings. Being gay is also not a crime in this country, but the religious right in this country want to ostracize them and make them out to be the next great plague of our society. How sad. It seems to me the real reason they want to ban gay marriage is because they stand to lose the uniqueness of having a right that others don't have. Remember, the women's and black's right to vote was met with resistance and harsh violence. All because a group wants to keep the rights that it says were given only to it by God and no one else is too greedy to share. How sad for Christianity. Scot W. Lisman El 7 Countryside Estates i Birds of a feather, indeed The history and evolution of political parties in the United States was always one of my favorite topics to teach to my high school American Government classes. For an 18-year-old looking to vote for the first time, knowing how the two-party system developed, and how it has sustained itself through the years, helped give meaning and understanding to the electoral process. Despite my best efforts, I think most students, while being able to at least follow the chronological development, failed to grasp how this development would affect them in their personal lives down the road. Today's political climate in Kansas would have been a useful tool at that timei But so would have been the last two presidential elections. Party politics are about the same as historical events in that things tend to repeat themselves over time. While both the Republican and Democratic parties have survived mostly intact for over 150 years, there have been the constant changes also. Both parties have been in power, out of power, splintered and reunited. But we still just have the two main parties. That part has been challenged, but never changed. It is with that historical background that I took some delight in watching the developments in Kansas politics last week. With several prominent Republicans switching parties, it was interesting to see the reaction, mostly Ucu VOICES from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Almost within minutes of former state GOP Chairman Mark Parkinson being named as Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' running mate, I received an e-mail from Wlchitan Cheryl Sullenger (whom I.don't know and don't really care to know) railing against both Sebelius and Parkinson. The email headline read: "Birds of a Feather: Gov. Sebelius and New Running Mate Display Lack of Integrity." Even as a registered Republican, I found the e-mail to be so ridiculous that I promptly "unsubscribed" to the newsletter. I am not even sure how I got "subscribed" in the first place. The next day, newspaper articles quoted everyone from Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to current state GOP Chairman Tim Shallenberger, to a district party chairman, with each one giving their opinion about the switch. Words bandied about included, "betrayal," "opportunist," "turncoat" and "blind ambition." It was all so predictable. And, in some odd way, I found myself almost entertained by the articles, even though I have always been registered as a Republican. Just as some of the people who have switched parties lately, I have found myself becoming disenchanted with some of the ultra-conservative shenanigans that have gone on over the last few years in Topeka. I suppose this is why I was not surprised to see what was happening. As I said earlier, for the most part I enjoy following party politics and always have enjoyed studying the political process. I have not, however, ever felt the urge to become any more involved than that. I never have felt an extreme sense of loyalty to the Republican Party, nor a sense of disgust for the Democratic Party. I always have voted for whom I thought was the best candidate for office, regardless of party. Now I know that Glenn Staab is going to say the best candidate is always a Democrat. Likewise, someone like Shallenburger is going to say that the best person, no matter who is running, is going to be a Republican. I can respect both opinions, but I never have felt that sense of loyalty. Maybe some day I will. For right now, though, I am going to just sit back and watch the positioning and posturing go on and just consider how I might have made this whole scenario seem interesting to a bunch of high school kids. Roger Hrabe, a lifelong resident of Plainville, is director of Rooks County Economic Development. i •filWfrM""! ^ • *^^ •" peMTIAl BID"1$ All Qj-J A real culture of corruption House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been outed. After a long and honorable career in public service, the truth has been revealed. She is motivated by racial animus. That's the conclusion we're supposed to draw from her request that a Democratic congressman caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in bribes from an FBI informant should'give up a plum committee assignment. The congressman in question is the infamous Rep. William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who was discovered by the FBI to be keeping $90,000 in hard cash in his freezer along with his ice cream and TV dinners. Ordinarily, it would be unremarkable that a congressman stinking of bribery would earn such a rebuke. But Jefferson is black. So his allies naturally turn to the race card to defend him, even if it means playing it against Pelosi, about whom many critical things can be said — but not that she's a racist. Jefferson has said that her request is "discriminatory," Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus — always a sucker for self-defeating, race-based appeals — are backing Jefferson. A CBC aide summarized the sentiment thusly: "Congresswoman Pelosi, by preemption without any legal justification, has now created a new precedent for how members are going to be treated. Unfortunately, she's chosen to single out an African-American for this honor." The suggestion is that if only a white Democrat had been secreting tens of thousands of dollars in cash in his ClMMENTARY house, Pelosi would be looking the other way. What a disgusting slur. It is true that usually members have to be indicted to be removed from committees, but if common sense ever dictated an exception, this is it. Nonetheless, black- caucus members are murmuring that their voters are tired of being taken for granted by the Democrats, in a spectacularly bizarre ordering of priorities. Rotten public schools are cheating black kids out of an education, but Democrats don't want to do anything fundamental to fix them. The break-down of the two-parent family is the gravest crisis facing urban black communities, but Democrats barely speak of it. The Democrats are pushing a liberal agenda on gay marriage and other cultural issues that runs counter to most blacks' social conservatism. All of that, the CBC is happy to swallow. But discipline one of its members for a gross ethical lapse, and they aren't going to take it anymore. This puts the supposed GOP-fostered "culture of corruption" in Congress — a favorite Democratic campaign theme — in a different light. One place where you find literally a culture of corruption, in the sense of a deeply ingrained pattern of corrupt practices, is in black urban politics, That is so partly because A community is best served when residents are willing to discuss issues publicly. You can be part of the discussion by participating in the Reader Forum. Please limit your submissions to 600 words. They will be edited for length and clarity. They must be signed and in- clude a name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. We reserve the right not to print a submission. We do not accept for publication on the editorial page poems, consumer complaints, business testimonials or it is tolerated. There apparently has never been a black politician in America accused of corruption who isn't the victim of racism, according to civil- rights groups and other black politicians. This is a profoundly enabling attitude, and the people hurt by it are generally poor blacks who suffer from the resulting degraded governance. Jefferson says he won't step aside because New Orleans, which he represents, needs him at this time of rebuilding. As if the residents of the Ninth Ward.can be ably served only by a congressman venal enough to traffic in tens of thousands of dollars in cash and stupid enough to get caught. / Given the awful history involved, it is understandable that black politics sometimes is characterized by a prickly pride and an easily roused defensiveness. But those feelings should be properly channeled into a swift and angry rejection of unethical black politicians like Jefferson, as unworthy of the struggles that made black representation in Congress possible and of the black constituents who so need and deserve good leadership. It is telling that Tom DeLay, the supposed poster boy for Republican corruption, is out of Congress without having ever gotten near a bundle of cash. Maybe the GOP caucus has higher standards, or maybe it just doesn't like white people. Rich Lowry la editor of the National Review- comments.lowryen«tlQnalnvlty,com group letters. Mall them to Reader Forum, The Hays Daily News, 507 Main, Hays KS 67601 .You also can send them by e-mail at rea<Jerforumedallyn»Wi,nit Pease Include an address and daytime telephone number.
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