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Confederate flag adds to SC Confederate Relic Room’s woes

South Carolina Confederate Relic Room Director Allen Roberson would like to talk about his museum’s exhibits. But in the past 18 months, his days have been dominated by the unrequested responsibility of displaying the last Confederate flag to fly at the Statehouse. The museum’s budget is about $825,000 about $100,000 less than 10 years ago. The controversy over lawmakers requiring the museum to display the last flag before the banner was permanently taken down after nine people were killed in a racially motivated shooting at a Charleston church has cost the museum at least one $50,000 donation and cut into his fundraising time, Roberson said.

“All I want to talk about is our exhibits,” Roberson told The State newspaper ( as he supervised the hanging of 47 maritime Civil War drawings and paintings that will go on display on Friday. The museum’s name betrays its scope. The Confederate Relic Room was founded in 1896 and is the state’s oldest military museum. Its mission is to educate about the role South Carolina has played in all of the nation’s wars.

In December, the museum will open a major exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and another exhibit on the Army Reserve 360th Civil Affairs Brigade in World War II, where the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond served.

“The name gives the impression it’s just about the Confederacy, but it goes far beyond that. It goes to the impact South Carolinians have had in these major global events. There are very important stories there,” said state Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, who has given items from the time he spent in 2007 and 2008 in Afghanistan serving in the South Carolina National Guard. But displaying that last Confederate flag looms over the museum. Roberson and museum officials suggested a $3.6 million project to cover the Legislature’s requirement that the flag be displayed and the 20,000 soldiers from South Carolina killed in the Civil War be honored. It was not well received. The flag sits in storage as lawmakers have not given any money to the project. The museum received criticism over being pro-Confederacy even with Roberson and others carefully trying to make sure all displays give both sides of an issue.

Roberson thinks the Confederate flag debate caused attendance at the Relic Room to drop from 24,800 in 2015 to about 19,800 in 2016.

“And before that we had five straight years of increasing attendance,” Roberson said. “Last year was the lowest attendance in 10 years.”

The flag has also added some other expenses to the museum’s proposed budget. Roberson is asking for $25,000 to hire a security guard and add security features to the Relic Room.


This story has corrected a reference to the museum director to Roberson.

Oregon’s broken education system shackles our students (Opinion)

By Alan Olsen

Until fixing Oregon’s broken education system for our children is the Legislature’s highest, primary priority, Senate Republicans cannot in good conscience make any other budget decisions. Oregonians are counting on us to make “education first.”

We have our work cut out for us this session, and the first step to addressing Oregon’s education crisis is to insulate our education system from being held hostage by partisan budget negotiations. By ensuring school funding is prioritized and off the budget chopping block, we can protect our students and educators from irresponsible and harmful cuts. Oregon’s education system has bold, failing grades across the board, and funding our schools and prioritizing our children is imperative. Our broken education system is jeopardizing the future of Oregon and it is endangering our children. Forty-seven other states rank higher[1] than Oregon when it comes to graduation rates and we rank 43rd for overall performance[2]. In 2011, only 67 percent of Oregon students graduated from high school within four years, and only 70 percent within five. In Oregon, 69 percent of the class of 2013 graduated with a diploma, compared to 81 percent nationally. Graduation rates are a symptom of deeply flawed education policy and it is a form of institutionalized oppression. Oregon is one of few states where the student achievement gap is not contracting. And when 1 in 5 of our kids live in poverty[3], this is dangerous. According to the Oregon Health Authority’s public health division low-income students in Oregon rank among the lowest performing students in the nation[4]. And per Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book we rank 35th for the economic well-being of children[5].

How are children supposed to live a fulfilling and prosperous life when they aren’t being equipped with the tools they need to succeed? Per EdWeek[6], in 2015 only 37 percent of fourth grade students were proficient in math, and only 33.9 percent were proficient in reading. This may not come as a surprise if people knew Oregon students lose almost a year of education[7] when class times and school years are compared to national averages. Children should not be statistics. They must be our highest priority. We must also look at how students are treated within our broken education system. Disabled students are disproportionately disciplined in Oregon. According to Diplomas Count 2015, 14.9 percent of students with disabilities were suspended[8], while this was true for only 7.2 percent of students without disabilities. By improving our broken education system with targeted and responsible classroom funding increases we can provide students and teachers with more tools to address the unique challenges they face. Share your opinion

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Currently, students are being managed like inventory rather than being treated like future CEOs or leaders. In 2011, Portland Public Schools added what they called “study halls” to its seven biggest high schools after it slashed more than 40 teaching jobs[9]. A campus security guard supervised 90-minute study halls packed with as many as 200 students in a crowded cafeteria. Not only are students being crammed into cafeterias, over 50 percent of vulnerable Oregon students need free and reduced lunches. How are students supposed to elevate their potential and escape a cycle of poverty, if our broken education system shackles them in a life of poverty and inequity?

Government is broken and fixing it must start with education. Senate Republicans are committed to our students, teachers and our future. We must increase classroom funding and prevent our children from being held hostage during budget negotiations. Education must come first.

Alan Olsen is a Republican state senator from Canby.


  1. ^ Forty-seven other states rank higher (
  2. ^ we rank 43rd for overall performance (
  3. ^ 1 in 5 of our kids live in poverty (
  4. ^ low-income students in Oregon rank among the lowest performing students in the nation (
  5. ^ rank 35th for the economic well-being of children (
  6. ^ EdWeek (
  7. ^ Oregon students lose almost a year of education (
  8. ^ 14.9 percent of students with disabilities were suspended (
  9. ^ slashed more than 40 teaching jobs (

Letters: Readers discuss voting Trump, the National Guard, Scouts and Journey to a New Life

Wrong reason

Thank you for your feature Choosing Trump. (Feb. 12, 13A). I have been puzzled, frankly, by the fierce aversion to Hillary Clinton in the election and have sought other articles for reasons none of them, in my mind, accounting for voters willingness to choose Donald Trump over her. Statements from your readers labeled, It s the Clintons, stupid, reveal, finally, that the choice to vote against Clinton in favor of the man who won turn out to be more shallow and short-sighted than I had imagined.

Robert Stewart

Prairie Village

Honorable action

Last weekend, four members of the Kansas Army National Guard s 35th Military Police Company drove hours to get to the middle of nowhere by 8:15 a.m. to show a group of young Boy Scouts how to properly raise an American flag. The four enlisted servicemen and women did not know each other, but they quickly assembled, shared ideas and allowed the ranking servicewoman to lay a plan for her newly formed team. They performed flawlessly. The sight of the stars and stripes whipping against a bright blue sky made me swell with pride.

After the ceremony, the guardsmen and women volunteered an hour to discuss service to others.

We should be honored that our young guardsmen are willing to give of themselves so freely and openly for the betterment of the future. I would like to publicly thank the leadership of the Kansas Army National Guard, the 35th Military Police Company and the state coordinator for military funeral honors, Rod Moyer. These are outstanding members of our community. I am proud of their contributions to the development of youth in our state.

Robert Wilson


Restore funding

There is a great nonprofit in Kansas City called Journey to New Life. It provides food, housing and job training for women who have been recently released from prison. The average recidivism rate in Missouri is 35 percent, conservatively estimating. If you include people who return to prison because of probation violations, the recidivism rate might be 60 percent or higher. Journey to New Life s clients have a recidivism rate of less than 5 percent.

It is funded in part by the state, but the project reaps net savings for the state of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. It also reduces crime and helps women re-entering society to be good mothers. One of Gov. Eric Greitens first official actions was to cut all state funding for Journey to New Life. Greitens is clearly a very smart person. This was not a smart decision. I urge him to reconsider.

Gregg Lombardi

Kansas City

Real ID

I have relatives living on a military base and cannot visit them using a Missouri driver s license. My passport expires in March, and I cannot justify renewing it. I am a senior citizen and most likely will not live 10 more years, the lifespan of a passport. Lawmakers should get our state in line with other states and comply with Real ID requirements. (Feb. 16, 5A, Missouri lawmakers want to push back at federal rules on ID )

Harold Wears

Lowry City, Mo.

With interest I read the complaints from a couple of legislators to the Missouri attorney general regarding Real ID requirements: The letter to [Josh] Hawley states that the people of Missouri want their privacy and do not want arbitrary conditions set forth by the government under the guise of security.

It seems funny to me that the same legislators have said they want similar arbitrary conditions under the guise of protecting against voter fraud.

GOP of Missouri, thy name is hypocrisy.

Dennis Nicely

Overland Park

Colors of fear

I think President Donald Trump should reinstate the George W. Bush-era Homeland Security Advisory System s color codes to alert us to threats, as it did after the 9/11 attacks. You remember the colors: Green meant low threat, all the way up to red s severe threat. I never would never go out in those days when the news was showing us a red-coded alert. Too, too risky. Trump tells us that he now knows how much danger we are in because, as president, he has insider information. Bringing back that old system and tweeting us seems like the right thing to do so we can all be as afraid and anxious as he thinks we ought to be.

And we ought to be very, very afraid. He wants us to be very, very afraid. And he ought to know.

Marianne Ronan

Kansas City

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