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Locked in a prison mentality and Patronizing the poor | March 1, editorialand commentaryCrime connects to the cycle of poverty

Floridians want sex ed in schools | March 1

Teachers are already busy

What are Floridians thinking? Teachers all over the state are working hard every day to raise students' scores in reading, math, writing and science so that our children can compete worldwide.

Shall we teachers take time from those subjects to teach sex education in greater detail? That responsibility should fall to the parents, so that teachers can do what they've been trained to do.

Colleen Bender, St. Petersburg

Floridians want sex ed in schools | March 1

Where are the parents?

This article said the majority of Floridians think that public schools should teach sex education, including disease prevention and contraception.

I agree that these are important issues that children need to learn about and discuss with adults, but what are we expecting from parents? Teachers wear many, many hats each day, but we can't do it all, and shouldn't be expected to. Parents need to be involved in the education of their children, too.

Amy Hlebak, Tarpon Springs

Floridians want sex ed in schools | March 1

Generations of failure

The response offered by Terry Kemple in your article is as backward-thinking as it is potentially harmful to our children.

Doesn't he know that attempts at purifying the young didn't work for his generation? Or his father's generation? Or his father's generation? Abstinence teachings have failed for thousands of years. What makes anyone think they will work now?

The age of sex as bad, evil, heresy and/or an abomination to God is over. Threats of eternal damnation, torture and death didn't work. They have never worked and never will. All they will do is irreparably damage the psyche and place at risk those to whom they are directed, telling them that they are bad for giving in to the same urges that every generation that preceded them did.

Steven Lipson, Valrico

Some people just love to hate the Clintons

Feb. 29

Don't spread the hatred

Why on earth would a newspaper that bills itself Florida's "best" run a Page 1 story quoting an unemployed nobody who tells abominable lies about the Clintons?

Granted, Bill Clinton is no saint, but even without knowing this particular Clinton-hater, I'm certain he isn't either. As for Hillary, she, like Eleanor Roosevelt (who was also the target of gender envy-hatred), is a brilliant, highly accomplished American.

Your article identifies the virulent strain of Clinton hatred that began during the Clinton presidency and has progressed far beyond partisan politics. I've not seen or heard justification of it, and your article perpetuates the slander while doing little to help us understand why it exists.

Joseph H. Francis, St. Petersburg

Obama's Reagan appeal | Feb. 29

No comparison

E. J. Dionne's commentary seizes on the oratorical skills of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama to relate them to one another. However, the article betrays a disturbing lack of context. The adoration and airports came after Reagan had actually accomplished something. The Obama adulation comes after … after what, exactly? A desultory three years as U.S. senator? A keynote at the 2004 Democratic convention? Seven years in the Illinois Senate? An Oprah- style confessional/self-help autobiography?

Prior to running for president in 1980, the most analogous time period to the present, Reagan had unsuccessfully challenged Gerald Ford for the presidential nomination, had run California as governor, had given a nationally recognized speech in support of Barry Goldwater, had run the Screen Actors Guild, and had written extensively on public policy.

Obama has not carefully ascended the tall ziggurat of American politics; he has ridden a rocket fueled on vaporous hope, and his apogee may or may not be reached by November.

Dennis Pemberton, Largo

Town wants kids to hitch their britches

Feb. 24, story

Pants in their place

Hurray to the city of Baldwin and other communities for taking a stand with ordinances for persons exposing themselves and their undergarments.

It will take the "old timers" to help this generation make a moral change. I'm a 56-year-old (soon to be 57) and a director for Christian Outreach Center. My staff and I told all of our kids (200 of them) in the past five years, "Your britches up or you are not welcome here."

I'm happy to say we had no problems and proudly watch our children dress "properly." I need to say, however, that we took the time to educate the students why it was important to dress "properly."

John Grampsas, Clearwater

There is an irony in both the substance and the proximity of these articles on the Times' editorial page. Doesn't anyone see a correlation between a relative level of poverty, growing crime and incarceration, and the growing disparity of wealth between rich and poor in this country?

When I worked for the Agency for International Development, the lead paragraph in virtually all of our congressional presentations on various countries highlighted the fact that the vast majority of wealth in the developing country being presented was in the hands of a minuscule portion of the population. Now in the United States, we seem to be resembling the characteristics of the nations whose profiles our assistance hopes to change.

The first step in changing (not eliminating) this situation is recognizing that both Bill O'Reilly and Douglas MacKinnon have valid points. Yes, a large segment of poor and middle-class Americans do not spend their money wisely (not that our current administration provides much of an example). There are poor who try to milk the welfare system, but there are many others who have genuine need, and the notable but few examples like O'Reilly (if he indeed was that poor) do not merit blanket condemnation of the remainder.

Having volunteered as a guardian ad litem for nine years, I have frequent contact with youth not only born into poverty but into its ever-present accomplices: nonexistent or irresponsible parenting, and lack of education and related ignorance.

We need to recognize a genuine need in some citizens, and develop multifaceted social welfare programs that not only help them, but also focus on breaking the cycle of poverty, parental neglect, and related rejection of educational opportunity. At the same time, incentives for both fiscal discipline and not abusing the system need to be established.

Unless and until this happens, pundits like O'Reilly will keep blustering, and expanding prisons will keep filling up.

Bill Ackerman, Homosassa

Locked in a prison mentality and Patronizing the poor | March 1, editorialand commentaryCrime connects to the cycle of poverty 03/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:25am]
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