Dress code is nonissue; focus on real problems | March 9, editorial
A dress code is part of solution
Most of us would agree that success is achieved by standards set from the top on down. Keeping that in mind, superintendent Wayne Alexander has standards to set in meeting the challenges in our school system. He appears highly motivated to do so.
We live in changing times. While we have made technological strides in our educational system, our students have suffered academically. Many lack self-discipline, respect for authority, self esteem and/or impulse control that undermine their ability to learn and reach their full potentials. Too many adults express opinions loudly, lacking consistent involvement or positive resolutions for the problem(s) about which they complain. In the end, our students see themselves as victims of an educational system, rather than the recipients of a wonderful (and practical) opportunity to learn. Our students have been lulled into a security of low-level learning.
While people criticize FCAT and No Child Left Behind, they may have overlooked Florida's low standing prior to these initiatives being taken. The bar has been too low for too long. Our general-level student population decreases while our special education student population continues to increase, labeled with inventive acronyms to describe its disabilities, which, for the most part, equate to a lack of self-control, coping skills and accountability.
For too many years prior to the FCAT, etc., our literacy rate has been embarrassingly high, compared with other countries. We have had students unfamiliar with basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills upon which to build. Some do not know who's in the White House, and don't care.
When you compare the dress code to other problems in our schools, I would agree it would appear less significant at first glance. However, when you consider that uniforms would greatly alleviate our teachers' daily responsibility of being "attire enforcers," would eliminate student competition, would foster goals of student discipline and school respect (and reduce parent expenditures), the dress code is part and parcel in a goal toward teaching our students discipline in a learning environment.
Without a fundamentally disciplined, respectful and thriving environment, we are all wasting our time and money. To borrow a quote: "A student will rise to the level of their expectation." In my opinion, everything counts,
Mary Heery, Spring Hill
Time to stand up against insurers
Home and business owners beware: Notice that insurance is not in the headlines this year? It is not because the pot is not being stirred in Tallahassee. Today, Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and House Insurance Committee Chairman Don Brown scheduled a special meeting of the House Insurance Committee.
The publicized focus of this hearing is to address the Office of Insurance Regulation's (OIR) disapproval of Citizens' Property Insurance Corp. filing to increase commercial rates by 300 percent. In September, Citizens filed for a 300 percent increase in commercial-commercial (nonresidential business) windstorm rates, which actually translates to 300 percent for some areas, but up to 1,500 percent in other areas of the state. The OIR disapproved that increase and mandated a 15 percent increase in these rates.
Legislation passed in the January 2007 special session on insurance costs temporarily repealed "use-and-file" statutes that allowed insurers to charge any rate, bill customers and then request approval. The legislation mandated that any increase in insurance rates in excess of 10 percent must be pre-approved by the OIR.
The perception among many consumer groups is that today's hearing is the first step toward advocating for deregulation of the insurance industry, reinstating use-and-file and supporting other actions supported by insurers.
What does this mean to the residents of Hernando County? First, it means business owners will be looking at huge rate increases and if the use-and-file is reinstated, the insurance industry will go back to the practice of huge rate increases for all of us without prior approval, and without the ability of our insurance commissioner to veto those increases. They also are trying to make Citizens again the highest insurer in the state.
We may have been able only to freeze Citizens' rates and get a small premium reduction, but if the insurers get their way in Tallahassee, all of our good work will be undone and rates will again skyrocket.
What we do, or do not do this year will show up on your bill next year. The agenda of the insurance companies is to roll back prior rate review and reinstate arbitration panels. After that, their goal is deregulation. This committee is their first step.
Please call state Rep. Ron Reagan at (850) 488-6341 and tell him to stand up to the insurance companies and stick with the governor and insurance commissioner. Call Insurance chair, state Rep. Don Brown, at (850) 488-4726 and remind him that he works for the people of this state, not the insurance companies.
Ginny Stevans, president,
Having Affordable Coverage New Port Richey