K-State Research and Extension News
PERSPECTIVE is a weekly public affairs program distributed to radio stations throughout the state. 
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The struggle for racial equality, for racial justice in the United States is one that has been in the works since the eighteen-hundreds.  Despite that long history, a lot of work remains to be done.  And much of that work needs to take place in how we educate our children.  One educational expert says we need to highlight the social, political and economic factors that have disproportionately affected children of color in our schools.

The discussion of sex, any discussion of sex, has always been a touchy subject.  What constitutes femaleness and maleness?  What is the interaction between cultural gender norms and genetic theories of sex?  Do cultural gender norms influence genetic theories of sex?  These and other questions have been debated since the beginning of the twentieth century.  Part of that debate includes a search for male and female in the human genome.

Technology is growing at an ever-increasing rate.  And while we love our technology one expert sees a dark side to it, fearing that we might become more and more under the control of the computer.  Already much of the business world is controlled by computer management programs, and while those programs offer speed and efficiency, they bring with them disturbing shortcomings.

For the experts looking ahead to feeding an ever-growing world population, there is concern about problems that could lead to a global shortfall of food between now and 2050. According to one expert their fears are based in part on the projected growth in global population, the impact of improved wealth, and the impact of urbanization on the available land and labor to produce crops.

Over the past 30 years the income gap between the rich and poor has gotten wider. Unfortunately, as the income gap widened, so did the educational opportunity gap.  Despite these gaps, two experts on education feel there are ways to increase educational opportunities for all children.

Our government has a problem, namely a Congress that doesn’t seem to be able to do its job.  According to Gov-Track, the 113th Congress passed only 66 laws in its first year. That was the lowest tally in 40 years…or as far back as Gov-Track has reliable data. What’s worse is that only 58 of those bills became law and many of them did nothing more than name post offices. So, what can be done to get Congress to do its job? The author of a new book says the answer is simple…Americans have got to start voting.

The U.S. Constitution requires that every ten years there be a count of the U.S. population.  Since the first census was taken it has become evident there is an ever-increasing need for not only more and different information, but also for a change in how some of that information is gathered.  According to a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, a discredited relic of 18th-century science, the “five races of mankind” lives on in the 21st century work of the census bureau.

The United States does not do well when ranked against other developed countries for its standard of living. In fact, the Human Poverty Index ranks the U.S.  17th out of 22 countries. Defining poverty in the United States utilizes two different elements…one defines poverty by looking at a family and the resources and income available to that family.

One aspect of higher education that seems to receive little attention is something called service learning and engaged scholarship.  And despite the fancy name, it is nothing more than the chance for those within the university community to use their expertise to help others.  And that help can range from helping a community like Greensburg, Kansas, recover from the destruction of a tornado to showing elementary school kids how to use a simple garden to learn and de-stress.

Last year, there were 56 tornadoes reported in Kansas – the quietest year for the violent storms since 1994.  There was only one injury in the state…and no deaths.  The Warning Coordination Meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in Topeka, Chad Omitt, says Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 3rd-7th, and that your planning and preparation need to take place now.

The many provisions of the Affordable Care Act create new protections for those dealing with insurance companies.  But, it also mandates that everyone who can afford it must get health insurance – and the coverage must begin by April 1st of this year. The Affordable Care Act makes some important changes to healthcare in this country…changes that Kansans need to know and understand.

Half of the jobs in the United States pay less than $34,000 a year…and almost a quarter pay only $22,000, which is below the poverty line for a family of four.  At the same time, the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million…and when all forms of compensation are examined, it was over $11 million. So, why can some be so rich, while others are so poor?

The American War on Poverty is a war that many feel we not only lost, but also wasted many valuable resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere.  Despite the widespread feeling that government handouts do not help the poor, there is new evidence that the war on poverty did make progress.  A new book shows the war did and does, in fact, work.  Maybe not quite as well as many had hoped, but nevertheless there were improvements in people’s lives.

A four-year study published last year finds if current water use continues some 69 percent of the groundwater stored in the High Plains Aquifer…also called the Ogallala Aquifer…will be depleted in 50 years.  The study, done at Kansas State University, takes a look at the future availability of groundwater in the aquifer, which supplies 30 percent of the nation's irrigated groundwater and is the most agriculturally important irrigation in Kansas.

There is a new marketing term…manfluence. It was coined by Midan Marketing following research showing that in today’s economy, as more and more women join the workforce, a significant percentage of men are now fulfilling roles that had traditionally been held by women. How men behave while shopping can greatly influence how products are merchandised and sold. On today’s Perspective: a look at how today’s economy is possibly changing American family life.

About 7% of the American workforce finds itself without a job. However, for one management expert, it’s not the unemployment numbers that worry him – it’s the long-term unemployment numbers...which show 38% of the unemployed have been out of work for over six months.

The most troubling trend that surfaces from this year’s Kansas Kids Count data is once again the growth in the number of kids that live in poverty.  According to the head of Kansas Action for Children, one of the leading child advocacy organizations in the country, the trend is particularly troubling because the single most important factor affecting the lives of children is whether or not they are born into poverty.  Being born into poverty affects just about everything from their educational outcomes to their health outcomes to their financial security in adulthood.

The Niagara Movement, National Afro-American League and National Association of Colored Women are just a few of the civil rights organizations that most people aren’t familiar with. Modern day organizations, such as the N-A-A-C-P and National Urban League, owe a great deal to these little-known groups of late 19th and early 20th centuries. And, while it was a tough journey for today’s civil rights organizations, it was nothing compared to the arduous struggle of those earlier organizations.

The political rancor in the United States continues to grow with no end in sight.  Not only is there little or no attempt at any kind of reconciliation, but for many citizens there is this unconscious feeling that they can never be anything more than just a spectator to whatever change might take place.  However, one activist feels the average person, not only can, but should work to take back their government and reclaim democracy.

- 11/27/2013
The number of college graduates who plan to have children has plummeted over the past 20 years.  According to research done at the Wharton School, in 1992, 78% of graduates said they intended to have children…a number that dropped to 42% just a year ago. This raises a number of questions: Why are the graduates not planning to have kids?  Why do men and women have different reasons for opting out of parenthood?  And, what choices do we face in our social and educational policy?

- 11/22/2013
The struggle for racial equality in the United States is one that has been in the works since the 1800’s.  Despite that long history, a lot of work remains to be done.  And much of that work needs to take place in how we educate our children. One educational expert says we need to highlight the social, political and economic factors that have disproportionately affected children of color in our schools.

- 11/15/2013
Voters in a number of states are running into problems insuring their right of access to the voting booth.  And one of the primary means of insuring that right is also running into problems.  The Voting Rights Act was enacted into law in 1965, and prohibits states and local governments from imposing voting qualifications or prerequisites to voting.  But now the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby County versus Holder has ruled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.

Six former Secretaries of Agriculture gathered recently at Kansas State University to share ideas on not only the role of the government in agriculture, but also just the role of government. The six were part of the famed Landon Lecture series on public issues. On this week’s Perspective, the conclusion of a two-part series presenting the thoughts of the group on some of the successes, failures, and obstacles the United States has faced and will face.

An unusual gathering in Manhattan, Kansas, recently found six former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture sharing their thoughts on the current state of agriculture.  The six were part of the famed Landon Lecture series on public issues.  In the first of a two-part series, Perspective delves into some of the successes, failures, and obstacles the U.S. has faced and will face.

One of the little-known stories in U.S. history revolves around the role white women played in the 1920s in what’s called the Harlem Renaissance. A number of white, upper-class women crossed racial lines to play important roles in that great black cultural movement of the early twentieth century.  In doing so, they had a profound impact on us today.

A rising inequality in the United States is separating the rich from both the middle class and the poor.  Ever since the start of the great recession, the very rich have not only recovered all of the wealth they lost, they now exceed what their holdings were in 2007.  The middle class, meanwhile, remains some seven to eight percent below where they were in terms of income, and the poor are now some ten to twelve percent below where they were in 2007.  One well-known economist says the numbers obviously point to a very uneven recovery over the last half dozen years.

Putting together the Constitution of the United States was not exactly the process many like to see as particularly unique and extraordinary.  In writing the Constitution the framers were trying to fix the major problem of the Articles of Confederation, which was a lack of federal power, specifically a power to raise adequate taxes.   One Constitutional law expert says more than anything the U.S. Constitution is an agreement…an agreement that makes this country what it is.

The use of aerial drones by the United States is in the news on a fairly regular basis.  But what few realize is that unmanned aerial systems can and are doing much more than what the United States has come to be known for.  In fact, the state of Kansas is one of the leaders in developing the potential of unmanned aerial systems.  To that end Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, and Wichita State University are sponsoring a three day conference in Manhattan that will identify the challenges and opportunities in the unmanned systems industry at the local, regional, state, national and international levels.

- 9/27/2013
House and Senate leaders are now working on a new five-year farm bill.  Their efforts follow the approval of a House bill that would slash billions of dollars from the food stamp program.  The farm bill sets this nation’s food and nutrition policy and has been stuck in partisan gridlock for almost two years.  One expert on agricultural law and policy says the problem stems from a dysfunctional Congress.

In 2010, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death among Kansans.  Not only is there an emotional cost to the families of those who take their lives, there is also a dollar cost to Kansas of millions of dollars.   It has often been the belief that suicides are triggered by one event, but most experts feel that suicide is too complex to view in simple terms, and must be dealt with in many different ways.

The economics of public policy regarding food is a subject with a broad reach.  Those policies range from simply growing farm commodities to turning those commodities into food.  Those agricultural policies also have an impact on obesity and malnutrition as efforts are made to encourage Americans to eat more healthful foods.

Just how intrusive can a government be in trying to protect its populace and national security?  Recent intelligence leaks have turned the public’s eye on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its role in deciding how much the government can intrude on people’s privacy in the name of national security.  One expert says it is a problem that goes all the way back to 1978.

A new study does away with many of the old myths about immigrant children in America – and at the same time reveals the many challenges they face.  A recently released report by the Foundation for Child Development in New York, is giving us a better understanding of how immigrant kids fare compared with their peers in nonimmigrant families.

According to a researcher at Kansas State University, "Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and Miami are the five key gateways where more than 70 percent of Hispanic and Latino immigration in the U.S. has historically been directed.  However, since the early 1980s, there has been a decline in their importance while new rural destinations like southwest Kansas and other rural areas have experienced large increases in Hispanic immigration."  In the first of a two-part series, we examine why immigrants seem to be heading to rural destinations.

On August 14th, security officials in Egypt stormed two encampments filled with supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.  The attacks made it evident the government was determined to crush the Islamists. One expert on the Middle East says many factors have played a role in the current turmoil in the area.  And all of those factors will have to be taken into consideration to bring peace to the region.

Far too often the U.S. Constitution and issues arising from it are seen in black and white, presenting all the answers for today’s problems.  One author and historical researcher says that is simply not the case…that what many folks want bears little relation to historical facts.

Capitalism has always been seen as one of the great strengths of the United States.  However, one legal expert feels that unless capitalism is reformed and controlled, the rich will simply get richer and the poor poorer and the United States will continue down the current road of economic malaise.

- 7/26/2013
In thinking about Haiti; abject poverty, voodoo, and the dictatorship of Papa Doc often come to the minds of many.  Yet one activist and author says despite its many problems, there is another Haiti where hope and progress lives.

Many of today’s young people seem to be lost.  What is it that separates them from past generations?  According to one author, teacher, and lecturer, what he calls the i-Y Generation is in trouble.  And today’s teens and young adults could irreparably damage society if we don’t learn how to relate to them.

Nineteen percent of Kansas children are living below the poverty line.  And according to the 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book, released recently by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the percentage of kids living in areas of concentrated poverty is growing at an alarming rate.  In 2000, only two percent of Kansas children lived in high-poverty areas. The latest data now show seven percent of Kansas children live in high-poverty areas…an increase of more than 200 percent.