Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Put home-school diploma scam out of business

Failing students trying to recoup high school credits don't need to turn to fly-by-night home school scams for assistance, but authorities can help eliminate the temptation to do so by pursuing all legal remedies against a Zephyrhills outfit accused of issuing bogus diplomas.

CHS Inc. High School (Does the C stand for counterfeit?) is under scrutiny from the Pasco Sheriff's Office after producing a replica high school diploma for a student who later learned she did not qualify as a graduate and was ineligible for admittance to a vocational program. It might come across as a cruel joke except at least two families said they paid more than a combined $1,600 for the home schooling that preceded the diplomas they believed to be authentic. That changes the case from suspected forgery to accusations of fraud and grand theft.

The diploma identifies the principal as Nina G.S. Duffield whose Country Home School Inc. has been inactive since 2006, according to state records. The parents said Duffield accepted their money, required only a few months of work, became unavailable to conference and eventually issued diplomas that include the state seal, a cross, and cribbed signatures from superintendent Kurt Browning and former School Board Chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong.

The actions are indefensible. CHS Inc. preyed on desperate adults trying to nudge under-performing children toward a better education and brighter career opportunities. Instead, the families are left with worthless paper and children academically unqualified for secondary education.

Diploma mills usually conjure up images of emailed advertisements for advanced degrees from unaccredited institutions in exchange for cash, correspondence courses and credits for real-life experience. In those cases, the degree purchaser most often is a willing participant well aware of the lax academic standards behind the post-graduate degrees. Dipping into the high school audience is rare, but not unheard of completely. The New York Times exposed a Miami group called University High School in 2005 as a diploma mill for floundering high schoolers with ambitions to play collegiate football. Locally, a school called Associated Medical Arts Institute in Zephyrhills peddled bogus medical assistant certificates amid the welfare-to-work push in 2001 and snookered two work force groups out of $170,000.

Parents and students don't need to rely on such dubious programs in seeking alternative ways to obtain high school diplomas. New this year, the Pasco School District offers an 18-credit high school diploma to students who don't plan to continue their education in college. (A traditional diploma is 24 credits). Also, students — depending on their age and academic history — can enroll in adult education or online classes, use existing credit-recovery programs, or obtain a high school equivalency diploma known as a GED.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials need to hold the parties behind CHS Inc. High School accountable for the ruse that, in the words of one parent, took money from children and then crushed their dreams. Indeed.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18