Senior Susannah Mitchell is the Online Co-Editor of the Harbinger with her soulmate, Julia Poe. She enjoys sweaters, feminism, collaging and actor Ezra Miller, whom she believes is a total fox. Read Full »
Here are the Harbinger’s predictions for this year’s biggest news stories.
Gay marriage will be legalized across the board
In 2014, 17 states legalized gay marriage. This is the highest amount of states allowing this in any year, ever. The total number of states that allow marriages between gay and lesbian couples is 37, which leaves almost one quarter of the U.S. left with marriage bans. If the trend in legalizations continues, there is a possibility of gay marriage being legal across the board by the end of 2015. Since the first legalization in 2004, the number of states striking down bans has increased gradually, spiking this past year. Already, the state of Florida has struck down the ban on gay marriage, making it the 37th state that allows gay marriage.
2016 presidential candidates will begin announcing their intentions to run
On Nov. 8, 2016, the next presidential election will take place. Although midterm elections just finished at the tail-end of 2014, the hype surrounding the 2016 presidential election has begun. Several political figures have already hinted at their intentions to run, including Jeb Bush (Republican) and Hillary Clinton (Democrat). As an incumbent, President Obama cannot run, so this new election will definitely entail a new president. As the excitement grows and the election comes closer, candidacy announcements will make headlines in 2015.
The U.S. will begin taking steps to amend relations with Cuba
Late last year, President Obama announced that the U.S. would fix its relations with Cuba, from whom we’ve been estranged for over 50 years. The new U.S.-Cuba deal includes many agreements, several of which will occur in 2015. In the next few months, the American embassy in Havana, Cuba’s capital, will re-open. Americans will now be able to travel to Cuba, and to use their credit and debit cards while there. Cubans will also have better internet access, and one of the biggest announcements so far is that Cuba will also release 53 American political prisoners.
The Shawnee Mission School District offers a one-time retirement package
The Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) school board has approved an early retirement package for teachers throughout the district. This package was approved by over 95 percent of the National Education Association of Shawnee Mission, and only applies to this current school year. Teachers who have 10 years of service in the district and are qualified to claim retirement benefits under the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System are eligible for the package.
Teachers who are interested in taking advantage of the package will receive an amount of money that is equal to 60 percent of their base pay, and the payment will spread out over a period of five years. They must submit their letters of recommendation by Feb. 2, and will not be able to be re-employed by SMSD except as substitute teachers.
As older teachers at the top of the pay scale begin to retire from SMSD, this frees up money for the district to hire more, younger teachers.
The KC Downtown Streetcar Project will begin running
In fall of 2015, the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar Project is scheduled to finish completion. According to their website, the Project began construction in spring of last year, and is “the first step in a longer-range plan to create a regional, integrated transit system to uniquely connect the Greater Kansas City area like never before.” The streetcar route will run along Main Street, connecting the River Market area to Crown Center and Union Station. In the past, Kansas City has been criticized for its poor public transit system, and the Downtown Streetcar Project is the city’s attempt to amend this issue.
Here’s what staff and students have to say.
Ron Stallard: “The biggest story this year will be the continuation of Congress and the president not being able to get anything done. It’s so partisan; even though the president is done, essentially, after this term, it’s still going to be Congress, the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans not getting along. That will probably be bigger than anything, as far as a single story goes.”
Senior Bethany Wiles: “I think gay marriage will be legalized in the United States on a larger scale. We are very close to the majority of the states allowing gay marriage, and…probably before next summer all of the states will have legalized it. I also think marijuana legalization [will occur] on a larger scale. Not all of the states for medicinal and recreational [use,] but just more.”
Sophomore Jacob De Sett: “I think that at the rate it’s been going, at least by the end of this year gay marriage around the U.S. will be legalized. [In] the past couple of months, a bunch of states have been legalizing gay marriage and I believe there’s only [a few] left. But at the rate it’s been going, we’ll have all of the U.S. legalized.”
Junior Jack Eddy: “I think a really big issue is going to be net neutrality. I think there were a lot of huge debates towards the end of 2014 [about it] and I think it will escalate in 2015. I myself am in support of net neutrality. I think since it’s always been neutral, that should be maintained, and I think equality in terms of internet speeds is important for small business development.”
Brenda Fishman: “[The biggest story will be] the bankruptcy of Kansas. I believe that Governor Brownback’s idea of doing away with most of the income taxes for the wealthiest Kansans was an idea that might have included some increased spending, and the projection that there might be more jobs and that more businesses would flock to Kansas in the hopes of establishing more businesses and providing more opportunities for Kansans. Beyond paper that looked like a good idea, but in reality it did not really increase the number of businesses that it generated in Kansas or the number of jobs, and therefore we’re facing a huge budget shortfall and unfortunately that could mean cuts to various programs including education. Or we let all the prisoners go.”