Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to pbacharach@ okgazette.com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

Balanced journalism

Congratulations for publishing Dr. Dana Stone’s timely and splendidly written “The truth of emergency contraception” (Commentary, Feb. 20, Oklahoma Gazette). Her rationale was validly bolstered by well-supported and cited facts. Her commentary was an effective, appropriate and much-needed contribution to a volatile and poorly understood subject — more accurately, a widely misunderstood and high-profile controversy of the day.

Our society, especially Oklahoma, needs more objective and factual articles such as Dr. Stone’s piece on this controversial aspect of human reproduction.

Juxtaposition of that article with the letter below it, “What about the public good?” by Nathaniel Batchelder, was probably just coincidental. However, both pieces of writing well-illustrate the balanced journalism sadly needed in our literate community.

Please continue such journalistic and civic excellence.

—Lawrence Curtis Oklahoma City

Water and wishful thinking

I want to thank Oklahoma Gazette for featuring three important stories, in back-to-back issues, about our looming water crisis. Western Oklahoma hasn’t had measurable rain in about three years. Farm ponds are dry. Foss Lake is in crisis. Clinton is in dire water straits, and the list grows.

The USDA drought monitor map issued Feb. 5 predicts more of the same, and now Canton Lake is drained to record low levels to keep Oklahoma City on its unsustainable water usage path.

Farmers and ranchers have drastically reduced their cattle herds for lack of hay and water due to this ongoing, severe drought. Another season of drought and there will be very few, if any, cattle left in Western Oklahoma. Feed crops and hay are severely impacted. Wheat crops may not even make this year. This is a crisis, folks.

Marsha Slaughter, Oklahoma City’s utilities director, said in the Feb. 13 Oklahoma Gazette (News, “Dry ideas,” Clifton Adcock) that “another 30,000 acre feet of water should be available for the taking next year ... and the lake should refill in up to two years.”

I’m not sure where Ms. Slaughter is getting her information, but that statement is in dire contrast to major weather indicators. It appears to be mere wishful thinking to justify draining Canton Lake to meet current demands. And still there is no comprehensive water restriction implementation in OKC to preserve our fragile water supplies. Shameful.

Let us not forget our fellow Okies in Western Oklahoma who are living this nightmare. This is not a futuristic scenario. This drought is their current, ongoing nightmare.

Another year of predicted high temperatures and no rain will surely spell disaster for Western and Central Oklahoma. Yes, Oklahoma City, we are included in this drought map. Oklahoma City and the urban areas, which seem to view this drought as not our problem, are in the path of this drought. It’s called desertification.

As a resident of OKC, I want to see Ms. Slaughter and the utilities department exhibit bold, decisive leadership in terms of water usage restrictions for the metro.

It seems to me that Oklahoma City utilities leaders are waiting until we are out of water to implement a sensible water plan.

—Ron Ferrell Oklahoma City

Pot and panned

Mike Brake is too old to be writing about medicinal cannabinol use (Commentary, Feb. 13, Oklahoma Gazette). Could you please give him a sucker and a pat on the back? He sounds like a crotchety ass.

—Paul Walker Tulsa

Embracing early childhood education

President Obama did not explicitly renounce his risky, first-term, test-driven policies that have caused so much harm to poor children of color in Oklahoma City and other districts, but he did the next best thing. His new priority is a researched-based call for high-quality early education.

In contrast to previous mandates for bubble-in quick fixes, the administration now endorses collaborative and coordinated efforts emphasizing socio-emotional interventions and diagnostic data so that children read for comprehension by third grade. He now heeds the wisdom of generations of scholars, including Nobel Prize winner James Heckman, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and many local business leaders.

Even better, Obama now seeks the same sort of community-based process that MAPS recommended 12 years ago for planning and implementing early education.

Oklahoma City is poised to benefit from this seismic shift. MAPS for Kids set the goal of collaborating with community partners to develop early childhood reading and development programs for 5,000 4- and 5-yearolds by 2005. It sought to coordinate resources already available within our community (including Head Start funds, charitable contributions and faith-based facilities and volunteers.) Our leaders also brought Heckman to OKC to raise awareness, and they pushed for Educare, a state-of-the-art early education program.

Before joining the MAPS process, I did not grasp the cognitive science behind its target of bringing all readers to grade level by third grade. Children who “learn to read” for comprehension will then “read to learn.” Nationally and locally, however, we have failed to “fix” secondary schools serving large concentrations of poor readers. All we know how to do for them is punish students, teachers and administrators for failing to do what nobody knows how to do.

As the Black Chronicle explained, our school district’s new board chair has the experience of pulling city leaders together to build the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. The Oklahoman notes that her supporters include former board chair Cliff Hudson, the AFT/OK and others who worked together in the MAPS coalition.

Nationally and locally, it is time to stop the blame game and restart the team effort to coordinate high-quality early learning programs that provide a foundation for educational excellence.

—John Thompson Oklahoma City

Consistent religious beliefs

Isn’t it ironic that Hobby Lobby is using religious beliefs as an excuse to not participate in the health care mandate, but it doesn’t hesitate to import all that garbage they sell us from China, where women are still strongly encouraged to have abortions?

If Hobby Lobby really wanted to do something to decrease the number of abortions in America, it could sell products made in America, giving Americans jobs instead of the Chinese.

If they want to base their decisions on religious beliefs, then they should base all their decisions on religious beliefs. Somehow, I think most of their decisions are based on profit.

—Nancy Roche Edmond

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