Thursday, December 14, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Pierce Middle has to get act together, and quickly

The summer break offers a good time for the Hillsborough County School District to begin sorting out the problems at Pierce Middle School. A school assessment team this spring painted a troubling picture of discipline and morale among staffers and students alike. The new principal needs to improve the climate quickly, and the district administration should support any needed staff changes and reforms.

The problems at Pierce are serious and must be addressed immediately. Over a three-day period in May, the inspection team reported a leadership void, a breakdown in communication between administrators and staffers, and cliques among teachers that made for a difficult working environment. Tensions were so high, the team found, that some teachers had created "a climate of rebellion by not reporting to work." Administrators spoke to the staff through emails, not face to face. Teachers were not at their posts supervising students in the cafeteria or during class changes, causing "an obvious lack of adult supervision in high traffic areas." And Pierce had low expectations of the students it served from a low-income community in Town 'N Country. The district needs to halt the turmoil and put Pierce in an entirely new direction.

Raymond Padgett took over last week as the third principal in a year. He needs to address the internal strife that has created a toxic environment on campus. Pierce needs the right teachers — and they must show up for work. Padgett needs to open the lines of communication between the front office, staff and parents. It is tough enough for a school where one-third of the students are learning English as a second language to develop a common mission. But that's only harder when teachers revolt or question the administration's willingness to address their concerns. The new principal should separate legitimate complaints about the work environment from boiler-plate workplace carping. And Padgett needs to restore faith among staffers that they can and are making a difference in these students' lives.

The district and the School Board need to keep an eye on Pierce and work with Padgett to ensure he turns matters around and fosters a more promising environment for the future.

Comments
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesdayís special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17