Congressman offers his views
When U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun visited Tonganoxie High School seniors last Thursday, students in Andy Gilner's government class learned first-hand the value of writing letters to elected officials.
"As a part of a project, they wrote a letter to the congressman or to one of the senators," Gilner said. "I encouraged the students to invite them to come to our class."
And so, between visits in Leavenworth and Topeka, Ryun made a Tonganoxie stop where he spent 30 minutes talking to THS seniors.
Beforehand, students had written questions to ask Ryun.
One question asked about farm production.
"Before the Freedom to Farm Act went in, the government in Washington told farmers when to plant and that's the way it was," Ryun said. "But then we recognized there was a need to allow farmers to have some freedom, to rotate crops or to do what's necessary to get the best production."
Next, Ryun said, the government began looking for new markets for American agricultural products.
"Last summer we passed an act that will allow trade with China," the Republican said.
He added that he expected the Bush administration to be more proactive in seeing more overseas trade.
"We need to open more markets and give farmers some place to sell their products," he added.
On education, Ryun said he saw value in Bush's education plans, announced last week.
Ryun said he favors using test scores to reward schools that are doing a good job. As for the vouchers recommended by Bush, Ryun said he is against using public education dollars for private schools.
"My position is that the money needs to stay in the public education system," he said.
In responding to a student's comment that Bush is going to ruin the country, Ryun said it appeared that Bush had selected a group of well-qualified cabinet members who are diversified and established.
"I think you're going to find that Bush is a very good leader," Ryun said. "That will be played out over time."
On other issues, Ryun said he favors eliminating the marriage tax penalty, strengthening the military and weaning the United States from its dependency on foreign oil by developing more oils in this country, particularly in Alaska.
Ryun said he also wants the country to research the development of long-term alternatives for fuel.
After the presentation, Gilner said the class project paid off in that students learned that letters matter.
"Chances are, not many of these kids are ever going to get involved in writing a bill," Gilner said. "But it could be they're going to write to their congressmen. I wanted them to get a feel for what it's like."