In a way, I think most of the Kansas press is reacting to David Miller’s gubernatorial candidacy as I initially reacted to the boys who had “baptized” me 14 years ago in the Philippines. Let me explain. I was on my way to the village of Licab to visit the child I sponsored through an international charity when—without warning—our jeep was hit with water from all sides. As I wiped the water off my face, I looked out the window and saw a group of young boys refilling their buckets in the rice field. Meanwhile, the equally soaked Filipinos in the jeep were laughing. I instead opted for name-calling, albeit silently, because these little brats had drenched me from head to toe. The Christmas after this incident, I received a travel guide on the Philippines from my father. While reading it, I learned that on June 24 the deeds of St. John the Baptist are reenacted in San Juan, Manila, as friends, relatives, and spectators are “baptized” by water thrown from and at passing cars. This explained the boys’ “mischievousness.” Of all days, I chose June 24 to visit Licab. However, I was 100 miles north of San Juan, Manila. I pulled out my map and found that our jeep had passed through a small village named San Juan, which is on the way from Cabanatuan City to Licab. If I had taken the time to read a travel guide prior to my first trip to the Philippines, I may have chosen to avoid anyplace named San Juan on June 24. Or, even if I had traveled on June 24, I would have understood that these boys were merely taking part in a celebration and I would have laughed along with the other passengers in the jeep. In much the same way, I believe many in the Kansas press have not taken the time and effort to understand Miller and other conservatives, and have instead decided to engage in name-calling. Conservatives, they tell us, are “Wing Nuts,” “extremists,” and not “regular Republicans.” This may be an expected response since, in their minds, Miller’s candidacy is unwanted mischief-making. While I am unaware of any conservative “travel guide” for members of the Kansas press, I think they could begin to understand the conservatives’ dissatisfaction with Gov. Bill Graves if they were to read two “report cards” that are readily available on the Internet. The first, the libertarian Cato Institute’s 1996 “Fiscal Report Card on America’s Governors” (see www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-257es.html), rates the “fiscal conservatism” of the nation’s governors. According to Cato, “With few exceptions, the 16 Republican governors elected in 1993 and 1994 have admirable records of supply-side tax cuts and budget downsizing.” Graves is one of those exceptions. “Graves’s first two years in office have been fiscally schizophrenic,” Cato reports. Further, “Graves got off to a solid start, but he now seems to be a guardian of the status quo and an enemy of growth-oriented reform.” Graves’ “schizophrenic” record on fiscal matters earned him a grade of C. Remarkably, this is one grade below what Joan Finney received from Cato after her first two years as governor of Kansas. With this year’s record-setting tax cut, Graves is likely to receive a higher grade for his fiscal performance during 1997 and 1998. However, an A is undoubtedly out of the question since Graves approved a general fund budget this year that increases spending by 9.3 percent next year. This increase is far above the level of inflation. The second report card was issued last January by Education Week (www.edweek.org). Done in conjunction with the left-leaning Pew Charitable Trusts, Education Week’s “Quality Counts ’98" report card compiles over 70 specific indicators and grades each state on its policies and performance in four major categories: standards and assessments; quality of teaching; school climate; and resources. Last year, Kansas earned a “gentleman’s C.” This year, Kansas received a solid D. Under Graves’ watch, Kansas’ grades fell in each of the categories rated by Education Week. Perhaps most troubling is the D- Kansas received for “Allocation.” According to Education Week, Kansas’ “allocation grade fell because only one other state devotes a lower share of its expenditures to classroom instruction, the one indicator we used in this area.” Education Week reports that just 57.6 percent of annual expenditures earmarked for education are spent on classroom instruction. When Graves signed the school-finance bill in 1996, he praised lawmakers for achieving their primary responsibility, which he defined as “the funding of our children’s education.” Unfortunately, Graves has done little, if anything, to ensure that these funds—which have been increased substantially since Graves took office—are being properly invested. If those in the press who are anti-Miller were to suspend their name-calling long enough to read these two important report cards, they might begin to understand why Kansas’ conservatives believe that—when it comes to fiscal policies and education—C’s and D’s just aren’t good enough. This understanding might even prevent a few editorial writers and columnists from finding themselves all wet on Aug. 4.