Lawmakers drop their own tenure
Let's make a deal. I'll support the Florida Legislature's desire to abolish tenure for our teachers if our legislators first abolish tenure for themselves.
I'm offering the anti-gerrymandering proposal in which voting districts are redrawn in ways that do not ensure the re-election of every single incumbent — in ways that do ensure competitive elections. Of course, if that happens, we'll be less likely to have legislators eager to declare war on our educators.
Many years ago I had a choice between a job at Pasco Hernando Community College or a college in New Mexico (which paid more). It was a difficult choice. I chose PHCC and have had a most rewarding career. With our current legislators firmly entrenched, that same choice today would be much easier.
Richard Downing, Ph.D., Hudson
Can't blame it all on the teachers
Who's smarter than a fifth-grader? Clearly it isn't Charlie Crist. The governor states, "This is a bill that really focuses on trying to help children and encouraging better teachers. It pays better teachers more, and that just seems to be the right thing to do." Those words may be politically correct and sound good in theory. Who doesn't want to focus on helping children? Encouraging better teachers and paying them more, of course. That, however, is the very black and white of it.
What isn't being spoken about is the wide gray area. The multiples of truly "helping children" and "encouraging better teachers" will only come from addressing the No. 1 problem — discipline. Then add the accountability of students and parents. Now factor in all the components that affect a student's success or failure. Beginning at home, getting proper sleep, hygiene and breakfast. Throw in the fact that the majority of students are so addicted to video games, iPods, MP3 players, computers and cell phones that in order to even capture their attention once they enter the classroom, you need to put on a Broadway show to keep them engaged.
Teachers and school-related personnel are the bones, joints and muscle of any school. To trim this already lean department contingent on mere test scores is ludicrous. The fat needs to be cut at the top. Where is their measure of accountability? Is their salary going to be regulated in the same manner?
Leigh Eckert, New Port Richey
Legislators need to do homework
I have to question the reasoning for the education bill SB 6. The general public has been told it is to eliminate bad teachers. This has not been my experience while working in public education for over 10 years, having three children graduate from public schools and previously serving as a school volunteer. I have worked with caring, educated and dedicated staff.
I am sure that in any profession there is a small percentage of employees who make bad choices or need guidance. If the theory is that our success will rise with this legislation, then the same financial accountability should extend to all elected officials.
Unfortunately, like any profession, there are outside factors preventing our highly qualified, certified educators from accomplishing their goals. We would like to think that our elected officials will have the quick fix, but educational success begins outside the classroom and in our society today. If our government wants to help students/educators, then the United States needs to encourage self-discipline, respect, personal responsibility, innovation and informed legislation, qualities our country was built on. As a citizen, once again I see legislators jumping on the bus without doing their homework, getting permission or funding the field trip.
Can and will our good teachers afford to remain in this profession? Will our young people enter into the education field with this new bill? Are only teachers being targeted because almost 70 percent are female? Does a reliable test exist that will be the sole indicator of student/teachers' future accomplishments? Are we going to eliminate educating the whole child to pay for testing? Are there personal gains for the people supporting the bill? Are you negatively impacting your community?
As a family of five registered voters, the answers to these questions will influence our election choices. Also, thank you to all of the retired public school educators, my children's former teachers and colleagues for your professional dedication in educating all children in all subject areas for a well-rounded education.
M.K. Abremski, New Port Richey
Develop nature, not parking lots
Instead of paving over more of Pasco for ball fields, shopping centers etc., why doesn't the Tourist Development Council promote, advertise and improve out natural Florida habitat, like Werner-Boyce State Park and Starkey Wilderness Park?
Draw tourists to see what Florida used to be like. There are enough developments, ball fields, tourist attractions. Why not encourage the development of the natural Florida? Save what's left of Pasco County and encourage campers, kayakers and the outdoor appreciation of the old Pasco.
C.T. Schmitt, Port Richey
Make those ugly words unwelcome | March 25 column.
Reporter should back free speech
While I applaud Michele Miller's disgust for racial epithets, I find her one statement about the capital health bill protesters disturbing.
Michele states she was somewhat shocked by people merely exercising their First Amendment rights. That wasn't so shocking.
A reporter shocked at people exercising their Constitutional rights. That is what is disturbing.
Richard Golden, San Antonio
Street 'fix' needs some fixing now
I have seen some dumb changes made, but this has to be the dumbest I have seen in this area. With the opening of the new Fivay High school north of State Road 52, the intersection at Chicago Avenue and SR 52 has supposedly been improved.
What was a left turn lane (southbound on Chicago) was made into a left-and-through lane and the right lane was made into a right-turn-only. Does someone have to get killed before this move is changed? When an auto is going north from Chicago Avenue/Osceola Drive and wants to turn left onto SR 52, there may be five cars heading south wanting to make a left turn onto 52.
With a fraction of drivers using turn signals, the front car might be the only one waiting to make a left turn, therefore, the northbound auto begins to turn if the other has on the left-turn signal. At that time, the southbound auto going straight races through the light and someone is seriously hurt. Combine that with the increase in traffic when this new school opens and law officers need to be prepared.
Donna Herrick, Hudson
Ridgewood thinks radical March 21 article
Not all is rotten in Ridgewood High
Ridgewood High School is not a place of failure as has been recently presented. Nor is it the teachers' fault for less than average FCAT passing rates. The main issue does not stem from a lackadaisical staff, but from a large number of unmotivated students.
As an Advanced Placement and honors student at Ridgewood, I have experienced the best in education. Teachers stress the importance of individualism and self-improvement. They do not assign homework so we can fail, rather they assign such challenging work so we can better ourselves, and become more self-disciplined and improve critical-thinking skills.
Students must be able to accept responsibility and take some initiative, study, and maintain good grades. Teachers cannot teach motivation. Motivation needs to be instilled by parents, who are a students' key to all success. Teachers can only go so far to motivate students to succeed in academic endeavors. However they cannot go home and become the student's parents. Parents need to model study and working habits that their kids can adapt into daily use.
It is the students, who during class time, meander through the halls and skip school, who are being targeted by the media and stigmatizing Ridgewood High School as a poor academic entity.
I am proud to say that I am a member of the Ridgewood community and disappointed that we are punished for a handful of lazy, incompetent students.
Frank J. Chavez, Port Richey
Old cemetery needs more care and respect | March 21 column
Landscapers also need pat on back
Our family appreciated the column by Bill Stevens about the Hudson Cemetery. Many of our ancestors, members of the Littell family, and our parents are buried there. We have been frustrated over the maintenance of the cemetery for years.
We appreciate the efforts of Jeff Cannon and the Hudson Cemetery Preservation Association. We are sorry, however, that you did not mention my nephew's landscape company, Luke Bros. Inc., which is maintaining the cemetery on a regular basis pro bono. They really deserve recognition for this unusual and generous effort.
Jo Nichols, Clearwater