Schools' FCAT grading is flawed
As a concerned citizen I was a bit upset by our school superintendent's overzealous game of musical chairs. I asked several people within the education system why principals were being reassigned so much. The answer I kept hearing over and over again was something about our schools' grades. If a school does not meet certain standards, it receives a low grade. Now, I'm all for standards and I believe that if a school and its personnel are not doing the job, then changes are necessary. However, I was not totally informed until recently as to how a school is graded.
Schools are evaluated on how the lowest 25 percent do on the FCAT. If that lowest 25 doesn't show improvement, it doesn't matter what the rest of the school does. A low grade can and will be issued. My son, currently a sophomore at USF, received a scholarship thanks to the quality education he received at Ridgewood High School — a D school. My daughter is currently attending Ridgewood and receiving the same quality education.
I have been aware of Ridgewood's D status, and frankly, quite surprised and confused by it. I know several other recent Ridgewood graduates who are doing very well in college. Now that the grading policy has been explained to me, I'm still confused and angry as well. What kind of system uses the lowest 25 percent to establish an evaluation?
I'm not sure the good people in our community — people who have children attending our schools — are aware of this grading policy. If this same process were used to evaluate individual teachers, any teacher with a class of 20 would be deemed a failure if five students didn't perform to an adequate level. The other 15 could all be at the highest level and it wouldn't matter.
It's time to wake people up. If it's a state issue, then to Tallahassee we need to go. I'm ready to take action, but I'm only one person.
Tony DiCairano, Port Richey
Elected officials deserve respect
I am afraid that some public testimonials given at the Aug. 11 County Commission public hearings bordered on the disrespectful. I know that some of my ideas may strike people as funny, outlandish, fanciful, or even disconnected from the commissioners' discussion. But I am prepared to treat them with respect as elected officials.
When people laughed at my suggestion for them to gut the county-financed budget of the Economic Development Council, by nearly a half-million dollars, I made the remark that a half-million will be no big deal for Wilton Simpson to make up. If anyone can find that kind of money, he can. The county needs that money to fund the bus system, if it is serious about keeping the poor and disabled connected to the rest of society by work, medical appointments, etc.
However, the rude remarks by Mr. Clay Colson I object to. He demonstrated no sense of humor and no sense of respect for the commissioners. He says basically to them, "You people don't know anything," and struts around like he owns the place.
I suggest more security at jammed public hearings, more respect for those elected to do their jobs, and tents and portable bathrooms for the overcrowded conditions!
Kathy Lambert, Dade City
Health care reform opposed before | Aug. 2 guest column
Raise the cap on Social Security
I applaud Dr. Marc Yacht. The solution is so easy to see that we blindly look through it. It's obvious that the cap on Social Security has not kept up with the economy.
The cap on Social Security should be raised to $160,000. The cap is at $106,800 at present. Professional athletes reach that cap after the first game they play. They don't pay into the Social Security system for the rest of the season. This should apply to all athletes, celebrities, administrators, everyone who works. This would help solve the Social Security deficit in a heartbeat. The interest earned on this money would be a good cushion to back up health care for all Americans.
Victoria C. Miller, Hudson
Shoot first law is vague, dangerous | Aug. 14 letter
Gun signs could reduce crime
As has often been said, guns don't kill people. People kill people. Why not outlaw knives and let people gnaw at their steaks.
There is a proper place for each and a value use for each. I have thought that if people put up a sign in their yard that guns are in this house and people know how to use them then crime in those houses would go down.
Earl Tyer, Trilby