All about the new standards | Sept. 24
Literature key in good education
In reading the question-and-answer section about the Common Core standards, I was concerned by the fact that children will be reading more "nonfiction and informational texts." As a former literature teacher, I recognize the value of good fiction in children's lives: It fuels the imagination, teaches creative thinking, and offers both life lessons and pure pleasure.
The lessons of literature helped me raise my own children with more understanding and left me with the ability to retrieve lines from Shakespeare, Emerson, Dickinson and other great writers throughout my life. Those lines have brought comfort and understanding at times of need.
I hope great literature will still play a role in the lives of our children in school. If not there, they more than likely will never read those works later.
Elaine Markowitz, Palm Harbor
Obama pushes carbon limits | Sept. 21
Support pollution limits
Last week, President Barack Obama drew a line in the sand in the fight against global warming and effectively said: No new dirty power plants. His Environmental Protection Agency proposed first-ever carbon pollution limits on power plants, the nation's single largest source of the global warming pollutant.
Florida has a lot at stake when it comes to global warming: coral reefs, the Everglades, and beautiful coastal cities like Tampa and St. Petersburg could be transformed by rising seas and temperatures.
A recent Environment Florida Research & Policy Center report finds that Florida ranks third in the country for most carbon pollution from its power plants, the state's largest single source of global warming pollution.
Floridians agree: If we want a safer climate and future for Florida's kids, we can't keep building dirty power plants. Floridians have already submitted more than 150,000 comments of the 3.2 million comments Americans delivered to the EPA in support of carbon limits on power plants.
I urge Florida's decisionmakers to support the president's proposed carbon pollution limits in the fight to protect our children and grandchildren from global warming's worst impacts.
Jennifer Rubiello, Environment Florida, St. Petersburg
Common Core reversal | Sept. 24
Back to the basics
Gov. Rick Scott and his cronies have made a political football out of Florida education. Education is not that complicated. A sage once said the best education is "a wise man on one end of a log and a motivated student on the other end."
The basics for good teaching and learning: Start with a well-motivated, intelligent, moral, well-paid person trained in his or her level and/or subject matter. Like a doctor, this person should be ready to go after a semester internship. Provide a well-prepared curriculum guide, needed materials, good classroom or "log," no more than 20-25 students, and get out of the way. Such staff know how to make tests, evaluate and meet student needs. That's it.
Henry L. King, Clearwater
Scott goes backward on reforms Sept. 24, editorial
Setting higher standards
Last week you criticized Gov. Rick Scott on not being at his education summit. This week you slam him because the results of that three-day meeting clearly showed that parents, teachers and many others want the state to have higher educational standards but are not in favor of the federal government's centralized standards.
So Scott heard the results of that summit and has now put forth a challenge to state education leaders to devise a better method of providing a much healthier system. Your liberal editors and staff will try to demean the governor no matter his position, while you never come forward with any ideas of merit.
Bob Kinder, St. Petersburg
Midtown grocery heralds a fresh start Sept. 25, editorial
Costs and benefits
With Walmart being the largest low-wage employer in the country, one ought to consider the economic burden our community will now bear with the opening of this store in Midtown.
A U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce report estimates that a single 300-person Walmart Superstore in Wisconsin likely costs taxpayers about $5,815 per employee. This cost is paid through state, local and federal services because workers are still at the poverty income level. These benefits include emergency room medical treatment, food stamps, social services and other taxpayer-paid resources.
There is no easy solution, but has anyone asked what the cost to consumers would be — say by item, about a 4 percent increase — to pay wages sufficient to be able to shop at Walmart?
For example, would a consumer pay $3.12 for $3 gallon of milk to assure that their spouse working there could make a reasonable living without a need for governmental assistance? Can't someone ask those questions?
Gregory Matthews, St. Petersburg
As man charges with ax, officer shoots, kills him | Sept. 24
A man wielding an ax in downtown St. Petersburg is plenty bad. But isn't it part of a bigger problem?
How about excessive drinking? Longer bar hours make for drunken patrons. Drug use at Williams Park is out of control. There is excessive trash and noise.
Is our downtown "thriving" as the politicians want us to believe, or is it turning into just another noisy, dirty, drunken bar scene, with streets and alleyways smelling of urine? "Thriving" is not the word I would use to describe our downtown.
Heidi Sumner, St. Petersburg
Cruz done, debate begins | Sept. 26
Patriot or politician?
Moderate Republicans in the Congress face a difficult choice: Should they vote for the greater good and face the threat of a tea party primary challenge, or should they abandon responsible governance and allow the radical right to disable the federal government?
No true patriot would have to struggle with a conflict between the best interests of our nation and his or her personal political career. Citizens should mark those who are in service to our country and those who are serving their own fortunes.
Kent Bailey, Thonotosassa