Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Editorials

Sunday’s letters: What we need to do to improve schools

main, top-news, tbo-op

Calls for action after a violent school year | May 6

Don’t let a school slip, slide away

The reporter’s description of the current situation at Wharton High School is eerily similar to events that have occurred at Chamberlain High in recent years. As a parent of students who attended Chamberlain from 2003 to 2016, I can attest to the conditions the Hillsborough School District allowed, resulting in a poor learning environment for all students. The district ignored for years all indications that conditions were deteriorating — from student test scores to input from parents. Officials went so far as to gut many specialties and classes such as the Chamberlain Advanced Placement Scholars Program. The dedication of the teachers and staff at the school could not overcome the actions of the district. Many Chamberlain families in the surrounding communities have fled to other educational opportunities through special assignment, private schools or school choice.

Changing school boundaries would indeed resolve the issue for many of the more influential families of students attending Wharton but will do little for those who are without a voice to make their needs heard. These students will just be shuttled to another school without understanding their requirements. The district must rethink its traditional methods for engaging families from surrounding communities to support lifelong learning.

The district must start early at the grassroots level — in the neighborhoods, local churches and recreation centers — to encourage and support the dedication it takes to promote learning. Success in school should never be dependent upon ZIP codes.

Jeanine Parrish, Tampa

Calls for action ... | May 6

What needs to be fixed

As one of the remaining 11 original faculty/staff members at Wharton High School, I want to add key points to this article. First, in reference to honors classes, even students who score the lowest level on state assessments or who fail a course may choose honors at Wharton. In addition, the current Wharton administration made a decision last summer to convert all ninth-grade English courses into honors without input from teachers or parents. Are there no regular-level learners in ninth grade?

Second, Wharton is near 100 percent enrollment capacity. We need relief on our very crowded campus, and we need it now. Waiting for boundaries for a new school on the opposite end of the county is not a viable option. The School Board can and should make that decision sooner than later.

Merrill Connor, Wesley Chapel

Scott sinks to new low
in cronyism | May 11, editorial

You can’t make this up

Looks like Gov. Rick Scott has officially crossed the line and joined President Donald Trump in the "Hey, you really can’t make this stuff up" club. His latest escapade with the Department of Revenue reads more like a MAD Magazine satire.

David Lubin, Tampa

The lost ideal that
was America | May 5, letter

We’ve survived worse

I am not of John McCain’s political persuasion either, but this letter, which quoted McCain’s new book was moving to me, also. It led me to my edition of Carl Sandburg’s poems The People Yes: "The learning and blundering people will live on." ... "The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback." ... "There are men who can’t be bought. The fireborn are at home in fire. The stars make no noise. You can’t hinder the wind from blowing. Time is the great teacher. Who can live without hope?"

The present political situation has blinded me from the education that I have. I forgot that others have endured seemingly impossible situations and, yet, America has survived and thrived. There have been and there still are great Americans you can’t buy.

There are men of steel like John McCain in the U.S. Senate. Who would have expected a tall and skinny rail splitter from Illinois to, against all odds, save the Union? Sandburg’s hopeful poetry comes from his knowledge and love of Lincoln.

So, I guess I better look at present-day American politics with the eye and perspective of someone who knows and loves America and its citizens. America has survived revolution, secession, terrible leaders. We will survive Trump.

Robert Clifford, Tarpon Springs

Remember the student who
was shot at FSU? | May 6

The pursuit of happiness

I experienced rage with the ease with which one can obtain a weapon in the United States. Ronny Ahmed, a student in biomedical engineering, planned for a bright future. The day he was shot changed his life forever, and now he is paralyzed from the waist down. For all those who tout the constitutional right to bear arms, I ask what about the right to pursue happiness outlined in the Declaration of Independence? Let’s not forget this tragedy and let’s work toward a sensible compromise on the Second Amendment. Let’s fight for our dream of a more peaceful society and stand up for innocents who pay too dearly because of the easy access to guns.

Irene Prosser, Tarpon Springs

A narrow path forward | April 29, Perspective

Leading the way

Boots on the ground! Many thanks to Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Carlton Ward Jr. and Joseph Guthrie for their exploration of the imperiled stretch of the Florida Wildlife Corridor near Interstate 4. If not for them, who would do this important survey? I hope that this team’s work makes a difference and helps to protect the critical wildlife corridor. Reading their article, I felt so very grateful to them.

Geri Doherty, Clearwater

Just give him the prize | May 11, letter

What wins a Nobel

Here’s a news update: There is no Nobel Prize in literature for tweets. And there’s no Nobel for war, only for peace.

Jeanine K. Peters, Largo

Comments
Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Forceful words are coming from the pope’s pen as well as pulpits around Tampa Bay: The sexual abuse of minors, which proliferated for decades within the Roman Catholic Church, were not merely sins but crimes whose repercussions are still being felt b...
Published: 08/20/18
Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Within weeks of taking office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott made one of the worst decisions of his administration and refused $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Within months of leaving office, the governor...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Local governments across the land can find plenty of reasons to go after the drug industry over the crisis of opioid addiction.Hillsborough County can find more reasons than most.• In 2016, the county led the state with 579 babies born addicted to dr...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

The environmental crisis in South Florida has fast become a political crisis. Politicians in both parties are busy blaming one another for the waves of toxic algae blooms spreading out from Lake Okeechobee and beyond, fouling both coasts and damaging...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/20/18
Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

It is real news that the Hillsborough County School District said this week it will accelerate testing for lead in drinking water and release the results after the Tampa Bay Times reported testing would take years and that until we asked families wer...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18

Bumping into GOP cowardice on guns

One small island of sanity in the generally insane ocean of American gun culture is the near-complete federal ban on civilian possession of fully automatic weapons — machine guns.The nation got a bitter taste last year of what we’d be facing on a reg...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

The revelation that three people in Pinellas County have contracted the measles virus should be a wake-up call to everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t been — and to implore parents to immunize their kids. Contagious diseases such as measles can...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

A good reputation can vanish overnight, which is why Habitat for Humanity of Hills-borough County made a smart decision by announcing it would seek to buy back 12 mortgages it sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping properties. The arrange...
Published: 08/14/18
Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

40%of Americans who were eligible to vote for president in 2016 just didn’t bother. That number dwarfs the portion of all eligible voters who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump — 27.6 percent — or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, 28.8 percent...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last month’s deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Published: 08/13/18