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Cuts to education reveal officials' moral failings

Editor's note: All of today's letters are in response to Finally, some financial order, a letter published May 22.

Officials reveal moral failings

The letter writer seems confused as to why over 500 Pasco County school employees are being laid off. He first states that funding shortfalls have led to these layoffs which is the unfortunate reality of the situation. He then conflates this fact with the notion that these employees were no longer needed. These positions were not superfluous.

The letter writer further opines that "it seems that there has been poor to no financial oversight by elected officials within the school system" without offering any substantiated details. And while it is true, as well as unfortunate, that Pasco taxpayers recently rejected a referendum to increase the tax for educational funding, it is also true that years ago taxpayers in Florida voted for more reasonable teacher-to-student ratios and also voted against the effort to repeal this amendment.

One has to wonder if the letter writer received a public school education or has children or grandchildren who have ever attended a public school. I doubt he realizes how many teachers purchase school supplies with their own money in order to provide for those children whose families cannot afford to buy these items themselves due to financial hardship. Our public school system has had to do more with fewer resources, both physical and financial, for many years. The decisions that are being made on a local as well as a state and national level to reduce educational funding are being done in an negligent manner. Some of our elected officials feel that it is more important to placate corporations and the wealthiest members of our society at the expense of our children's future.

Our children are the future leaders of our country. As a society it is our moral responsibility to ensure that they and future generations of children have the opportunity to pursue a quality, well-rounded education. To deny them such an education under the guise of fiscal conservatism is both irresponsible and shameful. Being fiscally conservative should not equate to being morally bankrupt.

John Honoski, Trinity

Know the facts before opining

I am not a teacher nor have I ever been a teacher. However, I come from a long line of educators dating back to the early 1900s. They range from a nephew who was the dean of faculty at Cornell University to an instructional assistant in Pasco. The letter writer does not have the facts straight. I would like to give him the facts:

Pasco County school employees have not had a raise in over four years, COLA or otherwise.

The retirement fund they now have to pay into and the medical insurance they now purchase were originally free of charge in lieu of raises in years past.

Class-size amendments will not be followed this year as there are not enough teachers. Although the voters have voted for smaller class size twice, Tallahassee has not heard them. If the parents would discipline their kids, the teachers would not have such a hard time with them.

The mentally and physically handicapped students bring in tens of thousands of dollars each for the schools. However, the first cuts are always in these classes and the money is diverted elsewhere.

The good teachers will leave the profession, leaving the inept and inadequate ones. They will finally say enough.

My grandniece who finished high school with a 4.2 grade point average has decided to switch her major from education to medical. She said that it is too easy to lose your job. I have two other relatives who are pulling their children out of public school to put them in a private school as they do not want their kids in a class with 30-plus kids.

I trust the letter writer has never worked with teenagers before and I think he and all of the big shots in Tallahassee ought to spend one week in a high school class full of unruly teens before they pass judgment.

Don't worry, your tax dollars will be safe to go to welfare and other entitlements as all of the drop-out prevention programs will end and our children will not have the knowledge to make it in college.

Elizabeth Bowman, New Port Richey

Layoffs will prove to be a mistake

I am heartsick to realize the ignorance of members of my community. The opinion expressed that the employees who were told they no longer have a job with the Pasco County School System were not needed to begin with is as far from the truth a comment can be.

Yes, we need to strap down financially in our state and our nation. But, we should start at the top and not be taking from our children who are our future. Those who believe these cuts are founded are going to be the same ones to verbalize complaints when even more misdirected students drop out. Education is crucial for all. We have made a mistake which will reach far into the future.

Did not hear about any pay cuts for the legislators who made the decisions?

Jill Palecek, New Port Richey

Clearly, money trumps education

The letter writer is assuming that the Pasco County School District's 500 laid-off employees are no longer needed. How did he reach that conclusion? The 500 employees were all doing essential jobs within the system. They are being laid-off due to lack of money, not because they are no longer needed.

But, of course, money is more important than the school children whose education will suffer due to these layoffs. I'll bet the letter writer had a good public school education. Now, he begrudges the few tax dollars he would pay to enhance education, and, incidentally, provide educated citizens for America's future. But, of course, all that matters is money. How sad.

Fern Williams, Zephyrhills

Don't run schools like businesses

Have you not been reading the newspapers? School employees have been let go due to the massive budget cuts. Although former Gov. Charlie Crist promised Amendment 1 would not affect public employees, it has. This is further compounded by Gov. Rick Scott's short-sightedness and willingness to treat education like a business. The only problem is that we educators are not a bakery making baked goods where we can throw away or replace what isn't good.

We aren't assembly line educators either. You are placing your future in the hands of the children we educate. To do that optimally, we need the staff and resources. The 500 school employees laid off that you are applauding are trained and educated to teach children. How can you think that by reducing our numbers we can be as effective? It's not cupcakes, it's children. Can we really afford to treat them as a product? The reduction is going to affect them.

At some point in your life, they will be fixing your car, making the laws, collecting your taxes and governing. Don't you want them to have received the best education possible when they are making decisions that will affect you and yours?

This layoff is far-reaching. No one will want to go into this profession where the rules are changed midway, the public perception is warped and they cannot make a living. The children will lose out and so will the letter writer even if he isn't aren't able to see it yet. We've lost sight of that somewhere.

Janene Redfield, New Port Richey

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Cuts to education reveal officials' moral failings 05/24/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 8:14pm]
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