Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Pinellas candidate's blunder is unsettling

Pinellas County School Board candidate Ken Peluso hopefully learned a valuable lesson this week after his quick and careless answer to a major constitutional question. He has sharply reversed himself from public statements at a Thursday candidate forum in which he appeared to advocate teaching religion-based creationism alongside evolution in public school science classes. On Friday, he said creationism does not belong in science classes and that he misspoke at the forum. Political candidates are held to account for what they say publicly, so it's wise to get it right the first time.

Peluso told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, which earlier this month recommended him in the Aug. 26 election for the District 4 seat, that he was caught off guard Thursday when an audience member at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club asked the School Board candidates if they favored teaching creationism and if they did, if it should be taught in science class. Peluso, responding first, was the only candidate to say yes: "I think creationism and evolution should be taught side by side, and I don't care what classroom."

On Friday, Peluso said he made a mistake. He said he would envision public schools teaching creationism only in the context of a world religion class, where "other alternative religious perspectives were also taught." He agreed creationism, a belief system which he subscribes to, does not have a role in public school science classes. The Florida Board of Education appropriately adopted science standards in 2008 embracing evolution, simultaneously rejecting calls by some Christian advocates to also include creationism or so-called intelligent design.

"Creationism should not come up in teaching evolution,'' Peluso said Friday. "I worded that poorly."

It's an unfortunate error for a second-time candidate who should recognize the need for precision whenever it comes to commenting on religious beliefs and taxpayer-financed education. Peluso, who previously served on the board for Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, made clear in previous interviews with the Times' editorial board that he understood public schools need to serve all students, regardless of background or beliefs, and that families who sought a different environment could opt for private school. Creationism and evolution in public schools did not come up in interviews with the editorial board during his unsuccessful 2008 campaign or this one.

Peluso pledged Friday that he would not advocate for science curriculum changes if he is elected to the Pinellas School Board. That is good news. It's too bad he didn't say that the first time.

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Editorial: A good first step in restoring the right to vote

Editorial: A good first step in restoring the right to vote

Allowing felons a meaningful chance to reclaim their right to vote and rejoin civic life is edging closer to reality in Florida. On Tuesday the state announced that a yearslong petition drive to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot h...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Published: 01/22/18

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Published: 01/22/18
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18