Lawmakers have opportunity to improve health outcomes for rural constituents

Cancer poses a disproportionate burden on rural communities. A new report from the National Grange confirms the extent of this problem; rural areas lag behind urban areas when it comes to getting regular preventive screenings.

Multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests are a crucial tool in the fight against cancer, as they can identify multiple types of cancer in their early stages when treatment is more likely to be effective. In rural communities, we often have limited access to health care services like cancer screening and treatment. This can lead to more late diagnoses and decreased chances of survival.

Furthermore, early detection can have a significant impact on the overall health care system. Detecting and treating cancer early reduces the need for patients to have to undergo invasive, costly treatments that place a burden on individuals and strain the health care system. Unfortunately, the Medicare program doesn’t have a process in place to cover these screenings once they’re approved by the FDA. It will take an act of Congress to ensure that there is one.

By expanding access to MCED tests, lawmakers have an opportunity to improve health outcomes for their rural constituents and reduce the burden of cancer in their communities. It’s simply the right thing to do.

— Teresa Shavney, Oklahoma City

‘Those frilly knickers’ are causing quite a stir on OETA

Gov. Kevin Stitt has vetoed funding for the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority because of its dangerous sexual content. You can see why he did that. Those frilly knickers on the Lawrence Welk dancers. Shameful. And the naked stamens and pistils on “Oklahoma Gardening!” We have to cover the grandkids’ eyes and rush them out of the room.

Not to mention those rutting beasts on the nature shows or the vulgar outfits worn by “Austin City Limits” performers or jazz players on the Ken Burns documentary. And that nasty Ado Annie in the musical “Oklahoma!” I’m with the governor. Let’s shut down those perverts and let our children feast on the wholesome fare of commercial television.

— Kris Lackey, Norman

Slippery slope of unintended consequences awaits Legislature, governor

I find it curious that Oklahoma’s government is embroiled in legislative conflict over proposed education funding issues.

Constitutionally, the state is required to provide free education for all children (I, § 5. “The Legislature shall establish and maintain a system of free public schools wherein all the children of the State may be educated.”) and is precluded from funding religious organizations (Section II-5: Public money or property – Use for sectarian purposes. No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit or support of any sect, church, denomination or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.)

So, it would seem prudent that the real mandate is to fully fund public education and drop any efforts that might funnel money into constitutionally prohibited areas.

The slippery slope of unintended consequences awaits if the Legislature and governor proceed with funding private and religious educational entities.

Likewise, any funding of homeschooling literally pays families to not send their children to school while taking dollars away from the local districts by reducing daily attendance.

The state Legislature should pass and the governor sign legislation to promote Oklahoma’s public schools and fairly compensate the personnel who educate our children and steer away from unconstitutional spending.

― Foster Johnson, Edmond

Our ‘leaders’ care more about power, profits of gun lobby than children

Stephanie Bice will vote no on the assault weapon ban because “there is little to no evidence that the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban had a statistically significant impact on crime rates while it was in place.” I don’t recall there was a daily mass shooting in 1994; apparently mass shootings have tripled since then.

People attend the March for Our Lives Rally on June 11, 2022, at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.

People attend the March for Our Lives Rally on June 11, 2022, at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.

I replied to Ms. Bice: There is a direct correlation between the number of guns a state has and the number of gun deaths. These automatic weapons were used in the vast majority of school shootings and mass killings. Anyone, including the mentally ill and children, can easily get their hands on one, and no grudge is too small. But mostly, I feel sorry for the children of this country who see schools being attacked and they see their “leaders” doing NOTHING. It’s no wonder child suicides are on the rise. Our “leaders” care more about power and the profits of the gun lobby than they care about our children.

— Maureen Harvey, Choctaw

Consolidate small school districts? A way to become a top 10 state

The timing may not be right to address this issue, but at some point the reality is that Oklahoma does not need 550 school districts, and that issue should be addressed. I took the time to see how Oklahoma compared to the surrounding states of Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Colorado and Texas in the number of students enrolled in their public schools compared to the number of school districts. Arkansas had the largest ratio of students per school district and Oklahoma had by far the lowest. In my opinion, rural Oklahoma would benefit by having more regional high schools instead of so many tiny high schools, many of which are struggling to survive financially.

Why is this important? Because Oklahoma ranks poorly in the ratio of administrative cost compared to dollars invested in the classroom. You could pay your teacher better if you had fewer school superintendents, plus you could hire more badly needed math and science teachers. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to reestablish shop classes as we attempt to bring manufacturing back from China.

Recently, the governor of Virginia promised the people of his state that every high school in Virginia will offer advanced math to every student who wanted it. Since Oklahoma wants to be a top 10 state, what better way to get there than by consolidating tiny school districts so that you can reach critical mass, and offer greater course selections and a strong emphasis in STEM, which has so many high paying jobs going begging.

— Ray LeBlanc, Chesterfield, Missouri

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Letters on school consolidation, state leadership, rural health

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