Remember those who sacrificed for us
As we prepare for Memorial Day and countless vacations, barbecues and celebrations, let us not forget to remember all the servicemen and women who have served, protected and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom throughout our great nation's history.
The members of the American Legion Family remember the sacrifices of military service borne by the men and women who wore the uniforms of our country's armed forces. We remember as well those countless mothers and fathers and wives and husbands who loved them and supported their decision to serve.
On Memorial Day, we should actively remember our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors and our friends who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Please pause and think upon the true meaning of Memorial Day in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. today.
Sid Damsgard, commander, American Legion Post 275, Dunedin
Why we honor them
Is Memorial Day a day of remembrance and honor, or has it become just a weekend of sales, sunshine, fun and the unofficial start of summer?
Memorial Day is a national holiday to honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives in service to our country, the greatest country on the face of God's Earth.
We honor them because they gave their lives to preserve the "freedom and liberty" we so often take for granted.
This Memorial Day, along with all the things we do to celebrate, keep them in mind and be thankful for their courage and heroism, which is the reason we can do the things we do.
What better way to show the thanks they deserve than to display the flag, the emblem of our country, for which they sacrificed. It seems the flag has become a political emblem that too many show disrespect for. When we disrespect the flag, we are disrespecting our soldiers.
This Memorial Day, celebrate and honor them by displaying the stars and stripes that they gave their lives for.
Have a safe and joyous Memorial Day while honoring them.
Donald Murphy, Clearwater
Teacher pay supplements
Let's help all students
I have read with dismay about the salary supplements for Pinellas County's teachers. I think it's great that teachers are helping students be more successful. Isn't that what teachers do — even if they don't get a supplement?
I know many teachers, including myself, who work through their planning periods for free! Part of the problem is that we have so many struggling students who are not targeted for special help. Maybe there should be something in place for teachers who work with struggling students — you know, like the ones they threw out of John Hopkins Middle School.
Maybe if our struggling students received the same kind of treatment/support as the high achievers, they would be less likely to misbehave at school. This would impact costs such as extra staff, campus police, court costs and juvenile detention centers.
Maybe the district can look at ways to assist students by actively recruiting volunteers, develop links with agencies mandated to help our youth, solicit support from private industry, and require parents to step up to the plate and help too. Maybe we could get really creative and give parents of struggling students a supplement when their child shows significant improvement. After all, learning starts at home. Let's consider rewarding parents for a job well done. Yes, that is what parents should be doing anyway, but so should teachers be doing their best.
Hopefully, the district will look at the big picture. In the long run, if we help all students, not just honors students, we will save money and keep our schools and communities safer.
Chris Stanley, St. Petersburg
Teacher pay supplements
The equality principle
In my 30 years of teaching the physical sciences and chemistry, including honors chemistry, I read in school board policy manuals that cost for instructional units within the district should track an equality principle. People like myself spent endless extra hours preparing and grading lab work, tests, etc., while being paid on the regular salary scale. Teachers are professionals who do not get paid on hours of work, but work the necessary hours to get the job done.
The International Baccalaureate program, no doubt, requires even more talent and hours of work, but it is also considered an honor to be selected to work with the brightest students. Maybe any extra cost for "buying" the IB or other special programs should be paid by the parents directly, so that those extra funds could be spread across all students according to the equality of expenditure principle.
Henry L. "Harry" King, Clearwater
Little change in FCAT scores | May 28, story
Schools need to change
Students in kindergarten, first, second and third grade are drilled to pass the FCAT. They are not getting what I will term "traditional" schooling. Yet the progress has stagnated.
With the stagnant progress, does it seem the curriculum might need changing? Or will education continue as is? If our children do not learn the basics in the early grades, how do we believe waiting until high school to get worried is going to work?
Maybe eliminating some of the schools' executive dead weight might help too. Start condensing positions to save money and use that money to actually educate the children. I say eliminate FCAT from all grades and use traditional teaching and grading in all grades.
Christina Ennist, New Port Richey
Rentboys, Cadillacs, scandals, oh my May 18, Howard Troxler column
Howard Troxler makes the ludicrous statement that "same-sex couples raise children just as well or better than male-female couples." He claims, "These children are no more likely to 'turn gay' (sheesh!) nor to be more troubled." Troxler must not be aware of the infamous John Ward vs. Mary Ward custody case in Pensacola. John Ward's daughter's gender mannerisms changed substantially due to the influence of Mary's lesbian relationships. Circuit Judge Joseph Tarbuck agreed with John Ward and awarded custody to John and his new wife. The ruling was upheld by the 1st District Court of Appeal.
The Ward case is just one of dozens of custody challenges in Florida where a child's change in behavior resulting from the influence of their same-sex partner guardians was the central issue in the claim by the challenging parent.
Troxler's statement that "it is hard to come up with scientific evidence in support of Florida's ban" resulted from his biased unwillingness to research the facts. The evidence captured in child custody case interrogatories and depositions involving a parent demanding custody over his or her former partner who is now gay provide plenty of facts to support the innately understood notion that a child is better off with a real mom and real dad role model.
The greatest social concern is the children's natural desire to please their parents, which does put pressure on them, as seen in the Ward case, to be like their same-sex partner guardians. No "sheesh" about it, Howard. You are very wrong on this issue.
David Caton, executive director, Florida Family Association, Tampa
Things look up … up north | May 23, story
A great help
This article references Larry LaBelle, who is a true unsung hero in trying to mobilize and equip the many unemployed in Tampa Bay. He is trainer by profession and he has volunteered his time to so many groups, secular and faith-based, including Tampa's own Real Estate Lives, to try to train the unemployed in new techniques of resume preparation, networking, job search skills and Web 2.0.
It is a wonder to me when he finds the time to earn a living. When Tampa's many unemployed do rediscover the joys of paid employment, many will owe a great debt to people like Larry LaBelle.
Andrew Hahn, Wesley Chapel