Letters to the Editor

Discipline is missing in schools

Teachers' fears addressed | March 6, story

Discipline is missing in schools

What is it that interferes with education in the classroom? Recent items in the St. Petersburg Times suggest classroom size, weak teachers, "kids acting up." One letter writer said that years ago one teacher could handle a large class, but today students are too highly energized.

On Friday, it was reported that intimidation of the teachers by students was a real threat. Ray Tampa, president of the St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP, thinks the problem is "weak teachers." He also suggests behavior issues could be helped by more role models, "better cultural competency training, and more guidance and support for teachers who are dealing with disruptive students."

However, it was Pinellas School Board member Carol Cook who identified the real "elephant in the room," and that is discipline. Teachers years ago could handle large classes because the reality of discipline applied by the teacher and reinforced by the parents. Today's student is no more "energized" than those in the past. Although there are many well-behaved students, there seem to be many who are not. Discipline begins at home.

Joseph Powell, Valrico

A right to learning

It is with great distress and disgust that I read this story.

Many lives were lost during the civil rights movement, which for you youngsters who don't know, was a battle for equality, not just a parade once a year. One of the main things that we fought for — and, yes, I say "we" because I spent some time in jail during this battle — was the right to an equal education, not just an education or a "separate but equal education," but an equal education.

Here and now, some 60 years since Brown vs. Board of Education, test scores of blacks are lagging way behind everyone else, and we've got black students telling teachers what they don't want?

The results of the movement gave you the right to learn, not to dictate. So to you I say, "Shut up, pull your pants up, and learn something!" If you don't learn anything else, learn that all blacks are not your brother and all whites are not your enemy. Stop being your own worst enemy!

Dr. Leroy McCloud, St. Petersburg

I-375's off ramp | March 6, story

Highway safety takes a back seat in Florida

Thank you for this article. I think you have exposed the tip of the iceberg that makes up the Florida Department of Transportation. This left-turning exit on an interstate highway is a sham. Basic highway engineering 101 teaches that exits from the left side of the highway are not safe or efficient for the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, the FDOT considers safety a distant third to money and politics.

This turn is particularly dangerous because of its unsafe geometry, which requires motorists to decelerate in a sharp sweeping elevated turn. Interestingly my GPS issues three audible warnings to stay to the right for motorists traveling on I-275.

Your article mentioned that the barrier walls on this roadway are only 2 feet 9 inches high and the FDOT says that this is safe because only three vehicles have jumped the barriers to the peril of the drivers.

I guess for the FDOT, safety is having only three people die in the past eight years.

It is interesting how other states treat this issue. Some states build high barrier walls even on secondary roads where there is a limited shoulder followed by a drop off — but not in Florida.

Then there are the FDOT signs — they are atrocious, particularly when you consider that this state derives a substantial amount of money from tourists. And how about the abysmal safety record on U.S. 19?

Sometime in the future, the state will decide that the lives and safety of motorists are more important than money and politics, but for now it appears we will have to accept that money and politics trump life and safety.

Ed Zisman, Tarpon Springs

I-375's off ramp | March 6, story

Carelessness is a factor

Anyone who travels the interstate and exits I-375 — and I-175 for that matter — knows you must brake and slow down to exit cautiously. I travel these exits every day, and have for many years, and I see drivers speeding and exiting with barely a touch of the brakes.

I am not an expert, but I can say from personal viewing that carelessness plays a major factor in a driver's safety on these exits. If you are going to speed you are going to lose control and crash. Drivers need to take responsibility and stop blaming road design, signs and speed limits.

Lynn Friedman, St. Petersburg

I-375's off ramp | March 6, story

Slow down, pay attention

Speed is the culprit. I've successfully navigated that off-ramp multiple times and had no difficulty whatsoever. All a driver needs to do is slow down and be attentive to the roadway as it curves to the left.

The ramp is not unsafe for anyone who practices good driving habits. Those who criticize the design and barrier height are just offering excuses for speeders and unattentive or distracted drivers. Slow down and concentrate on your driving, folks — and position yourself ahead of time to be in the proper lane.

John Hayner, Clearwater

Real engineers

What is it with today's design engineers?

In Tampa we've had an elevated roadway collapse.

The new Clearwater bridge had problems with piers before it opened.

A parking garage floor at the Tampa airport collapsed.

In St. Petersburg, a problem with the I-375 off- ramp has resulted in three deaths in the last eight years.

The new Belleair bridge has problems with concrete falling.

With all of the computers available for use in design calculations, why all of the problems?

We had better look for some engineers like the Roeblings who designed and built the Brooklyn bridge in 1883. It still stands like a fortress and was designed without the use of a computer.

Don Chevit, Largo

Water shortage

Ask the professionals

I have been an irrigation design consultant for the past 20 years, and it amazes me how an industry like irrigation is completely overlooked when discussing the water situation today.

There are many irrigation products currently available on the market capable of curbing overwatering for both residential and commercial properties.

The only real issue to the consumer(s) seems to be the cost of these items. And if the consumers were educated, they would find these products are actually more cost-effective in long-term usage.

If the Southwest Florida Water Management District wants to save our most precious resource, then they need to understand it takes more than just fining the water abusers and suggesting drought-tolerant landscaping to ease the situation.

Irrigation utilizes a good share of our most precious resource, so shouldn't the irrigation industry then logically have a large role in the conservation of the wet stuff?

Maybe it's just me, but if homeowners and developers would allow a qualified irrigation design company and/or a qualified irrigation installation company to properly utilize the water-saving products available, then possibly what little water we have remaining will be put to its best use.

Gary A. Babich, St. Petersburg

Pools are a problem

Evaporation of water from swimming pools and ornamental fountains is a significant factor in water consumption. I suggest that Swiftmud consider a ban on new private swimming pools. If new residential developments are proposed, I suggest that only community pools be allowed therein.

I realize that this deals a blow to the swimming pool industry and is to be avoided if the water supply problem improves.

Donald H. Snyder, Sun City Center

Discipline is missing in schools 03/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 9, 2009 7:23pm]

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