Exam policies at odds with flu season | Jan. 31, editorial
I caught the flu from a stupid policy
As I lay on the couch, my 102 degree fever not responding to my $97.50 prescription flu medicine, I want someone to blame. Maybe it was the kid in seventh period who quite clearly demonstrated flu-like symptoms but came to school anyway. Maybe I should know better than to shake hands with students as they walk into my room, even if I use hand sanitizer.
I start replaying every interaction I’ve had in the past 72 hours, including the three small children I held at a birthday party, who could contract influenza Type A because I didn’t know I was sick until it hit me like a palette of Advil dropped on my skull. I’m feeling guilty for holding a friend’s child, because of one simple reason: the Hillsborough County Public Schools’ exam exemption policy.
Letting kids skip their final exams if they come to school made no sense to me. It wasted valuable classroom time poring over attendance rolls to verify exam exemption eligibility, but we did it because it increased the attendance rate, and statistics are important in measuring school success. So, it turns out, we care more about an Excel spreadsheet’s bar graph than we do about sick people making other people sick. The flu is killing people this year. Healthy people. Babies. Like the ones I held on Sunday. The ones right now I’m praying I didn’t make sick.
It is time for the school board to either let students exempt for legitimate medical reasons, or do away with the exemptions, even for seniors, for good. If they have to take the tests anyway, they won’t come to school sick.
I should not be sitting here with this fever. It took me three hours to write this, because I was dizzy. I’ll be home again tomorrow, not teaching my kids, and exam exemptions are to blame. This asinine policy should end.
Calvin Dillon, Lutz
Dexter deserves thanks if flying petsscam ends | Feb. 6, Leonhardt column
‘Therapy,’ that’s the ticket
I understand the columnist’s disapproval of those fliers who falsely claim theirs is a "therapy" pet so as to avoid the airline’s fees, and the discomfort and disruption they may cause. But take a look at the outrageous fees charged by airlines to properly travel with a pet. For in-cabin pets, passengers are required keep their pet in a carrier in their footwell, and must also give up a carry-on bag. This charge for this "service" is typically $100 to $150 one way, which cost the airlines nothing and is pure profit. It would sometimes be less costly to buy your pet a seat on the plane, but airlines won’t allow that. Some airlines will transport pets in a pressurized cargo hold, with costs that are even higher. So maybe if airlines weren’t gouging pet owners, fewer would resort to subterfuge.
Michael Sedita, St. Petersburg
Doubling down | Feb. 7, column
A $1 trillion bill for us
Anyone who followed President Donald Trump’s career before he became a political conspiracy theorist knew that he was the master of running up debt and then bailing. So it should surprise no one that the national debt, borrowing and fiscal risk are rising under Trump and his GOP enablers.
This represents a raid on the U.S. Treasury by the GOP, who seem only to want to steal from the many to enrich the very few.
Couple this with giveaways of natural resources, undoing environmental protections and removing regulations that keep banks and unscrupulous lenders in check, and we can expect most of the $1 trillion additional borrowing to be taken directly from the pockets of the rest of us.
Jerry Nepon-Sixt, Tampa
Mueller is a man to emulate | Feb. 3, letter
A good man he is, but ...
I haven’t heard anyone dispute that special counsel Robert Mueller is a decorated veteran, having been awarded the Bronze Star for heroic service in the Vietnam War, is a practicing Christian who has been married to his high school sweetheart for 52 years.
However, how effective is he at conducting an investigation?
After more than a year he has not shown one shred of evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
At what point do you throw in the towel and admit there is no evidence of collusion?
Thomas Varnum, Largo
The immigrant experience | Feb. 7, letter
Spanish was here first
Everywhere I go I see the Se habla Español notice. It must really peeve the English-speaking supremacists. But, perhaps, a little history lesson is in order: Places like Florida and California were Spanish territories long before North America was overrun by the English-speaking horde. Here’s the thing: English speakers came to our corner of the planet, not the other way around. Better remember that Christopher Columbus’ crew did not include anyone who spoke English.
Humberto Calderon, Temple Terrace
Pentagon says Trump ordered Washington military parade | Feb. 7
Hail to the chief?
Like most, I love a parade. No doubt, with stirring marching music along with a Nazi salute and goose-stepping soldiers, our president and some of his supporters might enjoy it even more.
Stanley Cole, Palm Harbor
The Super Bowl
Easy not to watch
Surprisingly, it was quite easy for me, a guy that has played basketball, baseball, football and hockey the majority of his life, to not watch a single NFL game this season, including the Super Bowl.
NFL players protesting our nation’s national anthem and flag is a slap in my face. If you have a problem with the police, then protest in front of a police station. I have not watched Major League Baseball since 1993 (due to strike) or NHL since 2004 (due to strike). Professional players seem to think they are bigger than the game is.
Now I watch college sports, mostly in hopes of being able to experience the game in the spirit it’s intended.
Craig Morton, Palm Harbor