District shifts start times | Oct. 18
Pinellas starts classes too early
In Pinellas County, the high school start time is 7:05 a.m. This is just plain wrong. There is good evidence that adolescents need eight to nine hours of sleep and evidence that their circadian rhythm for sleep is different. This entire scenario is further complicated by eight months of daylight saving time, when 7:05 a.m. is really 6:05 a.m.
I have worked in health centers in some of our high schools for the past 20 years and have witnessed firsthand the negative effects of the early start time. Students do not eat breakfast because they have to get up so early and rush to catch their bus. Students in the magnet programs may be more negatively impacted because they may travel long distances. Students arrive at school tired and hungry.
Studies have shown that in areas where start times are later students use this time to get more sleep. Academic performance improves, absentee rates and bad behavior rates decrease.
Three times while I was chair of the School Health Advisory Board, we petitioned the School Board to change the start time for high school students. No action was taken. The reason repeatedly given was budget and availability of buses. We now see that the Hillsborough County School Board has accepted the fact that the early start time is not in the best interest of educating our youth. They have come up with a plan to change the start time to 8:30 a.m. and say it will save money. It is time for our School Board to act in the best interest of the students.
David A. Cimino, M.D., St. Petersburg
The writer is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
National anthem protests
Opponents are in denial
Does anyone remember Kim Davis? She was the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, despite a court order to do so. She performed a workplace protest about something she believed in. What happened to her? She was lauded as a hero! Mike Huckabee came and gave a speech about how brave she was.
On the other hand, NFL players doing a workplace protest about an issue they believe in, namely horrible treatment of African-Americans by the police, are "disrespecting the flag, our country and our soldiers."
To me, these are identical situations. People who agree with Davis think what she did was okay, but they are simply in denial about the football players’ issue.
Larry Johnson, Apollo Beach
Businesses need relief
As Florida business owners, taxpayers and economic drivers, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s network of 80,000 minority-owned businesses proudly supports federal tax reform.
Leaders in the White House and Congress are hard at work to provide much-needed economic relief to Florida families and business owners. I am thankful for our Florida congressional representatives’ steadfast dedication to this important policy, and it is encouraging to see our state leaders pushing for tax reform as well.
Together with the Republican Party of Florida, House Speaker Richard Corcoran recently hosted a roundtable in Tampa for business leaders to come together and discuss the new tax reform framework provided by the Trump administration. I hope other parts of the state follow suit and get involved, because tax reform will truly affect every single American.
The business community will certainly see new opportunities for job creation, expansion and investment under the proposal from President Donald Trump and Congress, but working families will benefit as well. By lowering rates, removing loopholes and simplifying the filing process, comprehensive tax reform is estimated to increase Florida’s median household income by $4,248. Additionally, the cost-efficiency of the new framework will contribute to 97,220 new jobs in Florida.
Times have changed in the past 30 years, which is the last time bold tax reform was enacted. Other countries have reformed their tax code to reflect modern society, and the United States is overdue to do the same. I encourage all Floridians to contact their elected officials and thank them for tackling tax reform this year. As for members of Congress, please continue your hard work and do not slow down until a bill is signed.
Julio Fuentes, Lake Worth
#MeToo | Oct. 22, Perspective
More should speak out
I do not wish to minimize what these women have experienced while trying to maintain or gain employment in highly visible industries. As these events are publicized, many more are speaking up. They are not alone. Sadly, they should have spoken up earlier because there is power in numbers, and their voices had the ability to be heard because of their celebrity.
I would be willing to bet that 100 percent of women have experienced such a violation. I am 75 years old and have never been remotely connected to any kind of "star power" industry. I was not particularly pretty while growing up, and was considered overweight and unattractive. Yet I remember the 16-year-old at the pool (I was 12) casually reaching over and feeling my bosom, in public. I remember old "Pat and chat," the vice president of our bank who, on a daily basis, sidled up to one of us to tuck his arm under ours in a gentle manner for a quick feel. I remember the quick pat on the bottom by my boss at the restaurant. We learned early on to avoid these situations, we learned to speak up, and we warned the new people coming to work.
After I lightly slapped one of my co-workers on his lower back and he got angry, I smiled and said, "I thought you would like it; you think we do." He never did it again. This is not joking, flirting, or anything remotely like that. If you act this way because you are in power, in charge, and can get away with it, it is molesting. And it is wrong.
Any time any of us can help stop this harassment by speaking out, we should do so. It is never the victim’s fault.
Arline Henninge, Spring Hill