The State Department of Education has told our public schools that all state testing must be done on-line. Now we are in the technology age and this sounds reasonable. But let us look at this a little deeper. How many computers does it take to provide testing to the entire 8th or 9th grade classes?, etc. The state dictates a small window of time for us to accomplish the testing.

In order to get every student tested we have to reschedule several classes so we can utilize the school’s computer lab. The students who had a computer class during that time span will have to go somewhere else. This problem exist in both small schools and large schools, it is just the numbers that change. And guess what, the State Department has not supplied one cent for us to purchase all these computers that we must have. And of course they are obsolete after 3 or 4 years and need to be replaced and upgraded. Again no money from the State Department or the Legislature has been provided.

Did you know that the people of Oklahoma voted that we have a State Public Common School Building Equalization Fund in 1984?

This Fund was approved by the people to help provide funding in building school facilities. That was 22 years ago. Our State Legislature has NEVER put any money into this fund.

Now they have passed a provision to virtually eliminate the use of a Construction Management service in school construction.

If they are not going to provide any funding why should they be able to tell us what construction process we can use. I can hire a construction manager and pay a fee of 5 percent, and get an agent representing the school district who when he finds a way to create savings, the savings goes to the district, or I can utilize the General Contractor process whereby the GC figures a profit of 20-25 percent and any savings he creates he puts in his pocket.

We have the largest state surplus in history and we have politicians, who instead of funding public education adequately, are trying to buy votes for re-election. Remember the battle cry “Fund Education First”, well it is the first week in June and the Legislative session has come to an end and we still don’t have a budget.

Remember the quote: “If their lips are moving.....” well you get the idea.

Michael McGregor, Claremore

(Mr. McGregor is Superintendent of Foyil Public Schools.)

Avoid distractions


Iraq is a quagmire, Afghanistan is falling apart, the deficit continues to soar and global warming continues to rise, so what do President Bush and certain ambitious and nervous Senate leaders put at the top of their list of priorities? Same-sex marriages, and burning the flag.

We must mobilize and reject cynical attempts like this to distract us and divide us. The Constitution is for expanding rights, not denying them to a group of fellow citizens. The only “activist judges” I see are the ones who want to replace the Bill of Rights with the Old Testament.

Ben Solomon, (e-mail)

Rogue soldiers?


On the heels of the Abu Ghraib scandal, the Haditha incident has raised even further disrespect -- not to mention worry, fear and anger -- toward the United States and its actions around the world. I have several questions of my own.

Alberto Gonzales, White House counsel who signed off on abuse of war prisoners, was subsequently appointed attorney general by President Bush. Army Lt. Col. James O’Hare, among those in charge of the 800th Military Police Brigade at the Abu Ghraib prison, has been promoted to colonel.

So far, of the 11 soldiers convicted in that scandal, four are sergeants, one a corporal, five specialists and one private first class.

Can all the blame truly be placed on the shoulders of individual troops who have been sent to participate in a poorly defined and poorly planned war?

Whether in school, business or war, don’t people follow only as well as they are being led? Has the commander-in-chief been a prudent and responsible leader, legally executing the laws of the land and the will of the people?

Is the U.S. military infected with a few rogue soldiers or does the problem lie at a higher level?

Has anyone among our top leaders asked these same things?

Joe Castorena, Catoosa

Thanks for helping


I want to thank everyone that participated and contributed to the recent “HEROES of the American Red Cross” Campaigns in Rogers and Mayes County. Especially, those individuals who served as Hero participants and raised money in Rogers County. They include: Barry Cramer, Cindy Thomas, Clem McSpadden, Debbie Hendrix, Jim Campbell, Larry Green, Lindel Stephens, Lisa Martin, Mark Dowler, Michael Turner, Peggy Trease, Randy Baldridge, Rose Ann McCaw-Ransom and Sean Burrage. Also, I want to thank Mark Rounds, who was Chairman for the Rogers County campaign. Through their generous efforts, the American Red Cross will be able to continue to be there when needed in Rogers County.

Last year, the Tulsa Area Chapter, which the Rogers/Mayes County Service Center is a part of, responded on average, one and one half times a day to disasters. The majority of these disasters were home fires. In Rogers and Mayes County, 158 fire victims were provided with approximately $29,821 in direct disaster assistance. So far this year, not counting the large grass fires, the Tulsa Area Chapter has responded to 100 more fires, as compared to last year at this time and provided an extra $100,000 to disaster victims.

Although emergency services (disaster relief) is American Red Cross’ signature service, we provide many other vital services to the community, including programs like Armed Forces Emergency Services; CPR and First Aid Training; Children’s Safety Programs like Scrubby Bear, Safe On My Own, Longfellow’s Whale Tales and Masters of Disasters; and Blood Services.

There are three ways for someone to get involved and support the American Red Cross - donating their time, money and blood. I would urge everyone to consider doing one, two or all three of these.

Mark Ogle, Claremore

(Mr. Ogle is manager of the Red Cross service center for Rogers and Mayes counties.)