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Noonletter, Nov. 13, 2018

Crysta Henthorne
Kansas News Service

Aging out into problems

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation looking at what happens to older children in foster care shows Kansas roughly follows national trends — and paints a bleak picture for their entry into adulthood.

Some things stand out in Kansas:

  • African-American children are more than twice as likely to land in foster care than white kids. Latino children are slightly less likely to enter foster care.
    Credit Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Girls are slightly more likely to end up in foster care in Kansas, while they’re somewhat less likely to land there nationally.
  • Kansas kids in foster care more often end up being placed with multiple families — 61 percent of the time — than children do nationally. And African-American children get shifted to more foster homes than white and Latino kids.
  • Kansas foster kids are more likely to become parents at a young age than the national average, by a 45-to-31 percent margin.

Pill mill suit

A Kansas opioid maker and a physician now face a fifth lawsuit for a supposed prescription kickback scheme. The Kansas City Star reports that a patient filed the lawsuit last week in Johnson County against his former doctor, Steven Simon, and Insys Therapeutics.

The suit echoes three others brought in Johnson County and a fourth one in Leavenworth County.

Windy campuses

Kansas State University and Washburn University signed up to be regular buyers of wind power from Westar Energy.

The two schools penned deals agreeing to buy the power for 20 years. At the Manhattan campus, wind turbines could, at times, deliver half the electric power consumed by K-State and save as much as $200,000 a year on its light bill.

Westar, in return, gets guaranteed customers for its wind power. Brian Grimmett reports it’s part of the utility’s “Renewables Direct” program that lets large customers set a fixed, long-term price for the purchase of renewable energy.

The wattage will come from a new wind farm being built in northeast Kansas and expected to be complete by the end of 2020.

Civil civics

Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly wrote an op-ed for USA Todaysaying her triumph over Kris Kobach wasn’t a partisan win. Rather, her piece couches the election as a defeat of former Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax-slashing, service-cutting ways and a victory for civility in politics.

“I did not campaign on partisan issues; I campaigned on family issues,” she writes in the hotel paper of record. “Instead of being distracted by political fights, my team focused on schools and jobs, as well as the cost of health care, food, and child care.”

The piece mentions Kobach zero times.

Kelly said one of her chief mandates is to bring civility to Topeka, saying the capital, and the Capitol, have become D.C.-like in recent years in ways voters hated.

“I’ve never met any voters — regardless of party — who prefer their leaders yell, insult and demean one another instead of getting things done,” she wrote. “It’s not how anyone else goes about their work or their daily lives.”

Of course, that’s what you’d expect to hear from a Democrat elected in a state that in presidential years, to use the next governor’s phrase “is as reliably red as Dorothy’s ruby slippers.”

Accreditation across the line

Kansas City Public Schools could win full accreditation from Missouri authorities as soon as spring 2019.

What’s that got to do with Kansas? The white flight that filled up Johnson County was the product of lots of things. Redlining real estate practices, racially motivated blockbusting techniques that scared white residents out of Kansas City, Mo., generations ago and the U.S. Interstate system.

But the ongoing struggles of the Kansas City Public Schools system pushed many families to head across the state border, primarily to Johnson County.

Now, reports Elle Moxley, Missouri’s education commissioner says the school district could be on the verge of accreditation. It’s been provisionally accredited since 2014 and scored enough points under the state’s accountability rules to qualify it for full accreditation two years ago. It was the first time that had happened in 30 years

Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

As the editor of a statewide news outlet, I aspire to work with our reporters to give Kansans a clear-eyed view of the place they call home. That means delivering hard-hitting stories that expose those things that keep Kansas from being the most vibrant, healthy place it can be. You can reach me at scott@kcur.org or 816-235-8023.
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