Higher cost for higher learning | July 5, story
School is committed to its nursing program
The St. Petersburg Times article on nursing programs downplayed the positive aspects at Everest University Brandon in favor of unsubstantiated allegations. There are several points in the story that need to be clarified or corrected. Among them:
• Everest University Brandon offers all nursing students reviews and support materials until they pass the National Council Licensure Examination. We also urge students to take the exam as soon as possible after graduation, which increases their chances of success.
• The story suggests that anyone can walk in and register for our nursing program. Not so. Everest has a screening process to determine which students are qualified. With a total of more than 200 applicants for our first-year program, less than 25 percent, or 51, qualified. Of those 51, a total of 33 were admitted during the first year. This is the same ratio of applicants to qualified students that the story attributed to the community colleges.
• At Everest, 67 percent of nursing faculty members hold master's degrees. The story says that statistic is higher at state colleges, but fails to mention that our rate is one-third higher than the state Board of Nursing's requirement of 50 percent.
• National League of Nursing accreditation is not required of any institution, but Everest is voluntarily working toward accreditation and is progressing on schedule.
• Claims were made that Everest credits do not transfer. The story said community colleges do not accept Everest credits, but there was no mention of colleges that follow the law and accept Everest credits that qualify under the Florida Statewide Course Numbering System. Everest participates in the Florida SCNS, and any institution that participates in the SCNS and refuses to accept applicable credits is in violation of the law. As for our nursing program, all nursing courses are part of the SCNS.
• The article erroneously states that we paid $100,000 in a settlement related to the transfer value of classes. Had the reporter checked, she would know that there was no evidence of wrongdoing, no settlement, and the payment was made to cover administrative costs. Failure to include that fact contributed to the lack of balance in the story.
At Everest, we are very proud of our nursing program, and remain 100 percent committed to the program and to our students.
Jan Schoonmaker, president-COO, Everest University-Florida, Tampa
Expand idea of those who gave us freedom
"Freedom isn't free." So said the emcee at the Fourth of July band concert on the green in Temple Terrace. Then she invited all military men and women, and their families, to stand and be honored when the anthem of their particular branch of service was played. They deserve that honor because they have made real sacrifices for our country. But her call seemed too narrow. Aren't there many others who have also made sacrifices for our freedom?
In my own case, I served in the U.S. Navy, so I could stand for Anchors Aweigh. But I served equal time in the Peace Corps. Where was the anthem for the Peace Corps?
Or what about those who invested their lives in the civil rights struggle so that people of color could be free of discrimination in school, at work and in everyday activity? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may be the most famous, but there are many others: for example, the nine young people who faced antagonistic crowds to open the schools of Little Rock, Ark., to integration in 1957.
Political freedom for women did not come until 1920, when the 19th Amendment established their right to vote. But that didn't come freely. It came after a struggle that dated from July 1848, when Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the first Women's Rights Convention. Then came 72 years while people put their energy and their integrity on the line to achieve that freedom.
Freedom is celebrated as perhaps our most basic value, one that was revolutionary compared to the values of the nations of our ancestors. But what is that freedom built on? My wife points out that in reality freedom is not built on military or even economic power, but rather on the rule of law, as set out in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
So I hope we can expand our vision beyond the military and honor all those who invest their lives and pay a price in the continuing struggle for freedom.
Haven Whiteside, Tampa
Health care reform
Push for public option
There is an overwhelming cry across the United States for health care reform with a strong public option. Calls and e-mails are going out to our elected officials, letters are being written to newspapers across the country. The question is: Is anyone listening?
I hope so. Over the past month five of my friends had to deal with very serious, and in some cases, life-threatening health issues. Three of the five have no health care at all; the remaining two have coverage but are underinsured. The costs to get these people back to health could result in not making a mortgage payment, not paying rent, figuring out how to put food on the table or not sending a child to college.
We claim to be the country with the best of everything, especially health care. If this is our best, I'd hate to see what the worst is.
Fellow Americans, I am asking you to please join in the grass-roots movement so that health care reform is passed this year, and that it has a strong public option. Call your senators and representatives, call the White House, do whatever you have to, but do something.
Marilyn Rosberg, Crystal Beach
Girl admits hit-run; jail time unlikely | July 10, story
Once again it appears that a pretty young white woman will be getting off with a slap on the wrist for running down another human being and abandoning her to die alone on the asphalt. Again much is being made of the driver's youth and potential with seemingly little concern for the victim or her family.
In both this incident and the prior one, the perpetrators demonstrated a lack of empathy for their victims, first by leaving the scene and attempting to escape justice and then by their public behavior and demeanor.
David Carroll, Seminole
Why should teenager Jordan Valdez of Davis Islands likely get off free (law enforcement folks call it "probation") for a fatal auto hit-and-run incident, while another teen, Adam Sanford of Pasco County, is told sorry, no probation possible in his auto-fatality case, as "sentencing guidelines call for at least 12 years in prison"?
Robert Ames, New Port Richey
Park's debut far too pricey July 10, story
Other ways to work
Please be serious. If I really believed you I would suggest you call on the community to volunteer to keep up the parks. I'm a master gardener and work at the Botanical Gardens. Right now I'm volunteering to upgrade the Largo High School complex. The students are coming back and working to help on the job.
What the Pinellas County Commission did to the botanical gardens and the slashed budget at Heritage Village is disgraceful. This year there was no summer day camp at Heritage.
At the gardens we are having to revamp the areas to comply with the water restrictions. I don't know how much we will lose. We have been lucky to have rain this year. At the high school the rain is making old "sleeping" plants pop up and join us in the sun.
Gentlemen and ladies who got on the wrong side of the law can fill in and do the toilet cleaning, major mowing, etc. Not the hard-core people but the people who do stupid things and so get caught at it.
Able-bodied guests of the county can mow with regular mowers. Come down off the mountain and go to less expensive ways of doing things.
Marie F. Hoke Singer, Largo
Now that so much has been said in our St. Petersburg Times about non-indigenous pythons, how about an article about our indigenous snakes (and other wildlife) and the good they do.
A harmless black snake was killed recently in my neighborhood by some misguided human. Hopefully, the Times can educate us humans so we do not feel the need to kill all our few remaining helpful wildlife species here in Florida.
Frances Druyor, Largo
Start a third party | July 7, letter
Back to basics
I agree 100 percent with the letter writer. What this country needs now is government that goes back to basics. Government for the people and by the people. We don't need bigger government, more taxes, fewer jobs and less for those who need what little they have.
Joyce Sherman, Port Richey