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Fundamental schools deserve full support

Education's tempered joy | Aug. 9, story

Fundamental schools deserve support

I say "hooray!" that finally our Pinellas County School Board is expanding the fundamental program. The board no doubt realizes that fundamental schools are not only more cost efficient but they're also more effective learning institutions that provide solid academic results.

There is no secret to the success of fundamental schools. It's a commonsense approach to education that says: Homework is a critical component of learning; dress codes and discipline policies eliminate distractions in the classroom; and parents should be involved in their children's education via PTA meetings and parent teacher conferences. In short, it's what every school should be.

What puzzles me is the mentality of some School Board members who seem to begrudge this movement because of fears that fundamental schools will hurt other schools and create a "two-tier system." So does that mean families who value education should have to suffer because some aren't willing to make it a top priority?

I challenge anyone who says they cannot attend one PTA meeting a month. Or they cannot sign their child's homework at night. Or they can't get their child to school (before and after school care programs — many on-site and providing financial aid — and carpools solve that issue). This is not a matter of the "haves" and the "have nots" as Janet Clark implied. It's a matter of the "wills" and the "will nots."

I'm tired of having to see our schools sink to the lowest common denominator where all kids lose. Instead, why don't we raise the bar and expect all parents to take some responsibility for their children's education? And if the School Board won't do that, then at least don't penalize parents who care enough to do their part and want their child to be in a fundamental school that supports real learning.

Lexa Shontz, Tarpon Springs

Obama's progress report | Aug. 8, Gail Collins column

This doesn't really look like progress

Columnist Gail Collins claims that finally President Barack Obama is not being blamed for everything bad that happens. How far has her head been stuck in her pocket, or elsewhere, to know that Bush/Cheney have taken credit for everything from Hurricane Katrina to the influx of pythons in Florida.

On the positive side, she notes that Obama parties with his Democratic senators, can sing happy birthday to Helen Thomas and our American influence abroad is rising. The only people I have seen who were impressed were Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Then we come to Obama's shining success so far, the Cash for Clunkers program. Great! He is spending money he doesn't have, further increasing a debt never seen before.

I could use a new washing machine and some boxer shorts, so I'm looking for some type of government rebate to spur these markets. Did I mention almost 10 percent unemployment?

Don Niemann, Seminole

Obama's progress report | Aug. 8, Gail Collins column

Worth a laugh

Not since Russell Baker and Mike Royko have I enjoyed satire and irony as much as I did with Gail Collins column of Aug. 8. Surely she did not mean literally what she wrote about President Barack Obama so far in his term of office.

I congratulate the St. Petersburg Times on its ability to print points of view that stray from the liberal left and include humor as well. I thought that her essay was brilliant in its tongue-in-cheek take on the past six months, and I forwarded it to all of my friends so that they too could have a hearty laugh for the day.

Margy Kincaid, Palm Harbor

At end of road, enter executioner Aug. 5, story

Cars that could be used

I couldn't help but wonder how many people would benefit from the cars that are being executed each day. The veteran who needs a ride to the VA, the elderly person who needs a way to a doctor, Meals on Wheels, the guy who found a job in St. Petersburg but lives in Lutz and has no car.

People are losing their homes daily along with their cars. Not everyone can afford a new car. While I understand the importance of limiting carbon emissions, it seems as if the ones who really need a boost are forgotten again. Change keeps on getting more expensive every day.

J.D. Richmond, Crystal Springs

Martinez resigns, sets off scramble | Aug. 8

Voter manipulation

I am outraged! If being a lame duck is a legitimate reason to quit a government job, let's let all of them go! All the "lame ducks." If they cannot do anything effectively for their constituents in their remaining time in office, they need to go.

What did Sen. Mel Martinez do for the state of Florida anyway? I'm not just angry at his resignation. I'm angry about how the electorate is being manipulated to get Gov. Charlie Crist into the Senate. Is there any Florida Republican who doesn't see this move as a way to enhance Crist's move to take that Senate seat?

If Crist really cares about Florida, he won't just appoint a place-keeper — he will want to be sure Florida has a solid voice in the Senate for the next 15 months. In that case, the appointee would be a viable candidate for the seat Crist seeks. Does anyone think he will do what is best for Florida, or what is best for his political future?

Linda Ashley, Treasure Island

Martinez resigns, sets off scramble | Aug. 8

Two of a kind

Mel Martinez and Sarah Palin should start their own social networking site. They could call it Quitter.

James Nelson, Largo

Older drivers are worse | Aug. 6, letter

Insulting a generation

I was once a teenager, and the public cried back then that "teen drivers are the worst," and I lived with it.

This letter was stating the obvious again: Curbing teen drivers saves lives. The letters still have the same message. The story remains the same, just the response changes. This letter writer's response seemed to be peppered with insults to the very generation his parents would be a part of today.

The letter writer states that as an emergency medical technician for 20 years, he can tell us that the older generation of "half-deaf and half-blind are far worse and cause many more hazards."

I got hit from behind three times since I moved to Florida, one day by a teenager while I was stopped at a red light. I stopped, she didn't.

People, young and old seem to believe it is their right to pass in any lane where there is an opening, even traveling in the right turn-only lane up until the last moment, jutting back in, regardless of who might be in that lane. I am able to observe this as an older but not blind or deaf, driver.

Sandra Dunakin, Largo

Fundamental schools deserve full support 08/10/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 10, 2009 7:07pm]
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