A crusade for black education | March 29, Bill Maxwell column
A model for success in education
We applaud Bill Maxwell's insight and offer a few elements that may bring some resolution to this grave issue.
One element derives from a model that has resulted in a 95 percent high school graduation rate. At Academy Prep Center for Education in St. Petersburg, many of our black families have a tough time understanding the true benefits and possible outcomes of formalizing their children's education. Moreover, many of these parents, caregivers and guardians are not equipped to ask the necessary questions of their children's educators. We must become educational leaders for parents as well as students.
The Academy Prep Center for Education model calls for leaders, parents and educators to become more hands-on in our children's education. In this model, many give of their resources to support scholarships and tangible resources; educators give of their talents, which span 10 hours per day, six days per week and 11 months per year; and our leaders give of their time as instructors, mentors and role models.
To whom much is given, much is required. Local corporations and industries are asked to create opportunities for local students to return to their communities and serve as role models and mentors to young people. A successful young person from a specific community brings validation that all things are possible when they are able to return to that community and serve.
We empower parents to take a leadership role in their children's education. We help our parents to learn more about the benefits of a high school and postsecondary education. We encourage our parents to partner with our school community to not only motivate and support their own children, but to motivate and support the education of all children within our community.
So many black children view a high school diploma as a mere option within their educational development, yet students who have completed a fifth- through eighth-grade education at Academy Prep Center for Education have graduated high school at a rate of 95 percent. Success is attainable.
Dr. Keturah Mills, head of school, and Cecil F. Stodghill, director of graduate support, Academy Prep Center for Education, St. Petersburg
Don't copy British system | April 5, letter
U.S. health care results
poor compared to peers
This letter claims that U.S. health care is much better than that in the United Kingdom. This is far from reality.
The World Health Organization's health care ranking puts France at the top, while the United States is 37th, just above Cuba. The United States provides its citizens with less capable health care than any other major industrial nation and less than many of the so-called Third World states.
Take the data for France, for example. France's infant mortality is 3.9 per 1,000 live births, compared with 7 in the United States. French life expectancy is 79.4 years, two years longer than in the United States. France has far more hospital beds and doctors per capita than the United States, and lower rates of death from diabetes and heart disease. The difference in deaths from respiratory disease, an often preventable form of mortality, is particularly striking: 31.2 per 100,000 people in France, versus 61.5 per 100,000 in the United States.
These data are from 2000. Little has changed in the United States since then, except that health care has become more unaffordable for many people. We get sicker than many other nations, live shorter lives, and our children die sooner. The only people who get great health care in the United States are the rich.
Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg
The little professor | April 5, story
Thank you for the attention devoted to Asperger's Syndrome. I would like to clarify two points. First, AS is defined according to impairments in social skills and restricted and repetitive interests and behaviors, not just "deficient social and communication skills." Moreover, the child highlighted in the article is referred to as having aspects of obsessive compulsive disorder "on top of everything." In fact, obsessive compulsive symptoms are a hallmark of AS.
I do want to commend the author for appropriately portraying the seriousness of the syndrome. AS is sometimes referred to as "Autism Lite," but in fact the social deficits and restricted/repetitive interests and behaviors characteristic of the disorder can be debilitating.
I see adults with AS who have an IQ in the genius range but are unable to succeed in community college, or to even hold a job at a fast food restaurant. Many must live in supported living facilities (e.g., group homes).
Individuals with AS are also at higher risk for other mental health disorders, such as depression. It is imperative that educators, pediatricians and parents be aware of the early signs of AS (inability to read social cues, difficulty making friends, obsessive interests, ritualistic behaviors) and pursue an accurate, early diagnosis.
Intervention, in the form of social skills group, individual therapy, and pharmacotherapy, can go a long way in helping individuals with AS achieve their full potential and obtain better social emotional functioning.
Danielle Thorp Sutton, Ph.D., Tampa
Make big water users pay more | April 4, editorial
Enough of boring lawns
We are overdue in raising water rates. This is at least the second drought in the last 16 years I've lived here.
Raising rates would discourage every form of water waste from leaky toilets to cracked swimming pools to cheating on lawn watering.
The revenue raised could be used for subsidies for homeowners to change over to part or all xeriscaping. These subsidies could also encourage soaker and drip watering systems. Instead of bland, boring lawns, we could have some nice landscaping scenery.
All of this might even create more jobs for landscapers.
Ronald A. Baltrunas, Clearwater
We are determined to help jobless | April 3, letter
The need is urgent
Obviously, state Rep. Adam Hasner is not unemployed; and when he is, his comfortable unemployment check and continued health care coverage will cushion him from the harsh realities of life we, common mortals, have to face every day.
He says that we can't help the unemployed because we aren't sure to be able to do so next year? For these unemployed, what you call, with great casualness, a "short-term fix," means food on the table this evening.
Simon Agmann, St. Petersburg