Disrespect can pass as racism in class | March 14, story
Imagine if racial roles were reversed
Disrespect, not racism? Give me a break! I am sick and tired of racism against blacks being portrayed as offensive while racism against whites is portrayed as excusable. Your article about the conditions of our schools sickened me and only confirmed what I imagine the majority of white people feel: disgust at the attitudes of many blacks in this country.
If a white student had called a black teacher a "black b---h", the student would have been expelled from school, the Uhurus and Jesse Jackson would have shown up on the school campus in protest, and the teacher would have had another chip to add to the mounting wood pile on her shoulder. Instead, this white teacher welcomed the black child into her class and offered her a fresh start devoid of resentment.
Don't tell me that poverty is an excuse or reason for a child (or anyone) to be disrespectful. The black community needs to expect and demand more of its own members in order for them to ever make it out of their self-actualized, miserable state.
In order to make it out of the depths of poverty you need to build your own ladder, not wait for someone else to dig you out. In order to learn how to build that ladder, you need an education. In order to be appreciated you have to be appreciative. In order to be gracious, you have to be grateful. In order to gain respect you have to act respectably.
Maria Higgins, St. Petersburg
Disrespect can pass as racism in class March 14, story
Blaming school problems on race is dangerous
The hard truth is that racism is a problem in our schools as it is throughout our society. The bigger problem is that we as a society don't know how to recognize it and combat it as we tend to think of it in terms of the mid 20th century segregationist and civil rights movement while the problem has evolved in almost every respect in the years since.
We've come to a place where many black folks will use racism as an excuse for any of their shortcomings and white folks will accommodate those charges as evidence of their own moral superiority.
Is disrespect a problem in our schools? Yes. Is all this disrespect flowing from black children? No. Are black children disproportionately represented as problem students? Yes. Does this make it a racial problem? Only if we make it so, and this story makes it so. We ignore the fact that by sheer volume there are more problematic white children, and that there are a very large number of well-adjusted black children who have to deal with guilt by association from their very first day of kindergarten.
When we start talking about academic achievement and discipline problems in the context of race, this is where the racism begins. There is room to collect this data, and perhaps adjust for it. But when it becomes the reason for the problem, we are only laying the blame of all our failures on a disfavored minority group. This is the very definition of racism at it's very worst — the kind of racism that brings about multigenerational warfare, ethnic cleansing, pogroms and genocide.
Our schools need to quit blaming black kids for all their problems and institute a plan to bring order out of chaos, and insist that teachers and administrators follow it, and back them up when they do — even if they are called racists in the media, or threatened with lawsuits.
David Horning, St. Petersburg
Disrespect can pass as racism in class March 14, story
Roots of disrespect
I appreciate the attention your article gave to the problem of disrespect and racism in the classroom. As a veteran public school teacher of 21 years, I agree with your conclusion that disrespect of teachers, in any form, is on the rise.
But I felt your article missed two of the main contributing factors for lack of respect in the classroom: what is taught/reinforced by the parents at home and by society and the entertainment media. In fact, a section of your article asks six questions about why disrespect has become a reality in the classroom and then quotes media assistant Sherry Howard as saying, "I don't know what the answer is."
I was raised by my parents to respect my teachers no matter what their race or ethnic background. I knew that if I didn't, the consequences at home would be worse than any consequences from my school. Also, society and the entertainment media usually portray teachers as irrelevant, incompetent, or use them as the frequent punch line to jokes!
I think the solution for teacher disrespect can be solved by trying to fix those two problems first.
Anthony Fuoco, Clearwater
Parade prescription | March 14, editorial
Move it downtown
Thanks for admitting that the drinking and urinating in public at the Gasparilla parade is out of control and for saying that residents are understandably upset. You go on to talk about the gross misbehavior we have to put up with each year.
Then you give a few suggestions that really don't get to the heart of the problem: Start early. Okay, then the drinking will start at 8 a.m. instead of 10:30. Add toilets. Won't help. We residents have directed people to porta-potties less than a block away and the answer is usually "Ewww, they stink." Ban cars. From where? People are already banned from parking on the streets after they are filled, five or so blocks from Bayshore.
Your answer is, as usual, akin to putting lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. How can you say moving it is unreasonable, then go on to say moving it would only shunt the problem onto someone else?
You did not address the city of Tampa's complicity in allowing this to become a great big beer fest. The city invites hundreds of thousands of people to come, drink, and take the day off from responsibility.
Move it downtown. Merchants would no doubt love for people to discover downtown again. There are no yards to trample, but there are restaurants to eat in, Channelside to visit. It's outgrown Bayshore. Period.
MaryLou Tuttle, Tampa
The kindest cut? Neutering | March 13, story
Make it mandatory
Friday's article concerned the desirability of spaying/neutering dogs to help negate the aggressiveness of dogs — among the many other benefits of this surgery.
Tens of thousands of homeless animals are also killed each year in Florida because their "parents" were not spayed or neutered.
Does anyone see any parallels here between voluntary compliance with spaying and neutering ordinances and so many animals being euthanized each year and the number of people and children being bitten? If mandatory spaying/neutering is not the answer, does anyone have a better idea?
Don Hinderliter, Sun City Center
A poem's meaning meanders | March 11, commentary by Brian Schott
It was a welcome treat to open the op-ed page to an explication of Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, especially one which addresses a common misreading of the popular poem.
Even with the help of Frost biographer Jay Parini, however, Brian Schott manages to miss the most obvious clue to the poem's meaning: the title. The Road Not Taken emphasizes that the poem is really about our difficulty to know if we have made the best decision, about the lack of solidity of thought and action in the modern world.
We also see Frost's play between the title and the most memorable lines in the poem in Mending Wall in which the oft-quoted line "Good fences make good neighbors" is repeated by an old curmudgeon who is described as "an old-stone savage armed" and who can offer no reason for there to be a fence between pines and apple trees.
Why does any of this matter? Misunderstanding poets who reflect the American soul so well may also point to our misunderstanding of ourselves. Good poetry requires close reading (and rereading), which is an essential skill in many situations in a free society.
Gregory Byrd, Ph.D, Clearwater
A matter of heart and sole | March 14, story
Freedom came first
Regarding your article Friday, I offer the following:
If Muntadar al-Zaida had thrown his shoes at Saddam Hussein, where would he be now? Would he be an Iraqi hero?
Americans and Iraqis should know that the shoes hurled by Zaida were first untied by George W. Bush.
James Andrews, Seminole