Letters to the editor: On Oklahoma's Volkswagen loss, Ryan Walters' politics

Editor's Note: This week's letters to the editor include a few of the hundreds of responses The Oklahoman received following an editorial published March 19. The responses, which came from individuals across the political spectrum, were overwhelmingly in favor of the sentiments expressed in the editorial.

Why are major companies not choosing Oklahoma?

State leaders are perplexed when companies don’t choose Oklahoma to site big new facilities. Volkswagen, Panasonic and Tesla all considered Oklahoma, but built elsewhere. Why?

Corporations may consider quality of life, as well as financial issues. Maybe they want locations with proven interest in public education, physical and mental health care, wealth disparity and reasonable minimum wages, quality infrastructure and acceptance of diversity without regard to race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The logo of German car maker Volkswagen (VW) can be seen Sept. 11, 2020, at the company's factory in Dresden, eastern Germany. The automaker is the latest company to chose another location over Oklahoma for a facility.
The logo of German car maker Volkswagen (VW) can be seen Sept. 11, 2020, at the company's factory in Dresden, eastern Germany. The automaker is the latest company to chose another location over Oklahoma for a facility.

Oklahoma ranks 43rd in the nation for quality of life, according to the World Population Review … among the bottom 10 states. Women’s safety is an issue, as Oklahoma ranks first in the nation for the highest incidence of domestic and social violence. Maternal and infant mortality rates are highest in states with severe anti-abortion laws. Oklahoma ranks No. 19 in maternal and infant mortality.

Oklahomans always help victims of tornadoes, floods, fires and earthquakes. We’re tough and proud, having survived the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, and united to weather the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. Now we need to smooth out and improve our state quality of life, so that companies will choose to locate here.

— Nathaniel Batchelder, Oklahoma City

More:Editorial: It's time for Ryan Walters to end disparaging rhetoric or resign

Political zealots have run 'conservatives like me' to the other side

Having been educated in public schools, served on a public school board and known multitudes of public school success stories, the opinions and ideas expressed by our state school superintendent are troubling. His lack of understanding of public education, proclivity to extol lies about critical race theory or our “woke” system, and complete disrespect of our public school teachers and administrators make me wonder how he was ever elected.

I have been a registered Republican for over 50 years, but Walters and his community of political zealots who think like him have run me and other conservatives like me to vote for many candidates on the other side of the fence. Walters reminds me of the proverb:

He who knows and knows that he knows is wise, follow him. 

He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep, wake him. 

He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a child, teach him. 

But he that knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool, run from him.

All of us have heard stories of teachers leaving Oklahoma, and I’m aware of at least one former Teacher of the Year who decided instead to run from far-right views. If we could only convince Walters and his cronies to run from us.

— George Cohlmia, Edmond

Ryan Walters, state schools superintendent, is pictured Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting.
Ryan Walters, state schools superintendent, is pictured Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting.

State Board of Education should reject these unfair rules

Is a public hearing really a hearing if no one is there to hear it? Superintendent Ryan Walters and three of the five state school board members chose not to attend the public hearings about proposed rules impacting library media programs and parental rights held on March 17. Apparently they have no regard for the citizens in attendance that overwhelmingly opposed these rules, including many articulate students who are most impacted by them. These rules were written, not in order to operationalize a law passed through the legislative process, but by edict by Superintendent Walters. Legislating through the rule-making process far exceeds the board’s and the superintendent’s authority and should be rejected.

These edicts also call for severe punishments for school districts without any right to due process. The rules do not outline how a complaint is filed, how an investigation would be conducted or how a district would be given the opportunity to speak to the accusations before the board downgrades their accreditation status. Because terms used in these rules are broad and highly subjective, without a process for districts to speak to any accusations, they will be used as weapons to punish districts, like they did Tulsa Public Schools, by downgrading their accreditation status without due process.

The state school board should reject these unfair rules and help Superintendent Walters stay in his lane as an agency head and not a legislator. Otherwise, the board may find itself in the crosshairs of another lawsuit for using the rule-making process to legislate ― as is happening in Florida where their state school board is being sued for this very thing.

— Sherri Brown, Edmond

Oklahoma on the national stage for no good reason

Thanks to Ryan Walters and state legislators, Oklahoma was once again highlighted in national media for its ignorance and bigotry. Walters continues to be an embarrassment to the entire state with his thinly veiled comments and outright racist pronouncements. He is trying to ruin public education in Oklahoma and making a mockery of teachers and schools in the process.

Members of the Oklahoma House affirmed the right of schools to physically punish all students, including disabled students who likely could not understand why they were being struck. The excuse some of them have made is that they thought they would be voting against the Bible if they voted for a bill that would exclude disabled students from physical punishment. Ignorance and cruelty. What a combination. Wonder why international companies don’t want to bring their businesses to Oklahoma?

— Delores Jackson, Oklahoma City

'Woke' the lazy person's way to express everything for which they have been misled

I was an educator in Oklahoma for over 30 years. Retired as a high school principal. I realize I’ve been retired a long time, but I have many friends in education and where the superintendent of public instruction is getting his idea regarding critical race theory is beyond me. I never once heard the words in all my years of education. And “woke” is the lazy person’s way of trying to express everything for which they have been misled.

What is sad is he does not have a clue as to the racism he displays when he does his many one-act plays on Twitter. I am very sorry to say, however, he is the face of many Oklahoma voters. They only know to vote a straight ticket and do what social media or their singular cable news station tells them to do. I only wish they would take the time to educate themselves as to the real facts and not listen to a few minutes of someone’s opinion.

Jimmy Green, Dallas, Texas

Ever wonder why?

Thank you, thank you! Oh, Ms. Bunyan, we have needed that for a long time. I cannot tell you how much my family and I appreciated your splendid column. When legislators and the governor wonder why global businesses won't bring business here, it is precisely because of destructive nonsense like that coming from Ryan Walters.

— Jon Womastek, Oklahoma City 

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Letters: On Oklahoma's Volkswagen loss, Ryan Walters' politics