Republican primary campaign
Issues were settled decades ago
Republicans want to eliminate Planned Parenthood and make contraception hard to get? You've got to be kidding. In 1972 I volunteered for Planned Parenthood in Lexington, Ky. That is 40 years ago — before abortion was legal. At that time, Planned Parenthood was an essential provider of affordable health care and contraception for women and men. (They tested for and treated sexually transmitted diseases.) They still are.
Nearly 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court forced Connecticut to stop outlawing contraception in Griswold vs. Connecticut. Yes, young people, it took the Supreme Court to make contraception legal for married couples. Now, the Republicans and their billionaire donors want to make the courts answer directly to them. If you think your rights are safe when money controls who becomes a judge, think again.
Catherine Blackburn, Gulfport
Charter school's troubling twists | Feb. 26
Articles on school skewed
The biggest losers of the Tampa Bay Times' recently skewed reports about the Life Force Arts and Technology charter school are its students, most of whom come from lower-income, African-American and Hispanic families.
The positive letters from parents and the success of the students at LATA were ignored by the Times reporter, who never quoted any of the parents or teachers who have continued to participate in and support LATA until the end of his article of March 7, and yet, he was provided with letters from parents and knew the positive results of our FCAT scores last year almost two months ago — well before the series the Times has been spinning on the school.
Your reporter was also provided with the data that there was no religion being taught in the school. The fact is the Times misrepresented the community holiday event the students, each with signed parental approval, attended at the Church of Scientology in Tampa. The children received toys, food, clothes and storybooks.
If going to one event at a church was a problem, why was the Times not concerned about the fact that the school was housed in a Christian church for over two years and even held school performances in that church's sanctuary with Bibles and "Come to Jesus" fliers aplenty? This was certainly never a problem for us at LATA because then, as now, we did not incorporate religion into the school. I raise this point to show just how hypocritical the Times is.
The Pinellas County School District only graduates 21 percent of its male African-American students — of the nonmagnet students last year, only 9 percent passed the FCAT, with the superintendent of the district stating that, "You do not teach students to read in high school." Does that mean that even if they can't read, there is no need to expend funds on remediation because by the time they are in high school they just won't be able to? Is the superintendent saying just let them graduate not being able to read?
This is absolutely unacceptable for any child and a condemnation of the attitude toward African-Americans in the school system.
Because of the reading problems our students were experiencing when they entered LATA, we wanted to use a proven method of literacy remediation. Study Technology is a nonreligious method that is successfully used in both public and private schools all over the United States and the world. However, even though there was a seminar done that introduced this to the teachers, the Study Technology was never implemented with the children. LATA was just not able to do this because of our limited tutorial resources.
That the Times ignored all of the above shows that they are continuing their racist, biased and hypocritical agenda and care nothing about helping our children. Shame on you, Times!
Louis Muhammad, Life Force Arts and Technology Academy board chairman, Clearwater
County sets bait for trophy store | March 14
Low tech vs. high tech
It's hard to believe our leaders are planning to spend $15 million in public funds as an incentive to land a Bass Pro Shops store. For only $21 million in Texas Enterprise Fund incentives, Austin will land a $304 million expansion of an Apple facility with the promise of 3,600 jobs over the next few years.
Apparently we have money to give away. Maybe it's our poor educational system that keeps real business from seriously considering Florida as a home.
Hal Freedman, St. Petersburg
Jobs numbers aren't good news for Scott March 14
Voters should have known
Gov. Rick Scott has been accused of everything from wrecking schools to failing to create jobs. When are the voters going to admit it's not his fault? Floridians voted for him despite his known connection to a health care company involved in fraud — what did they expect? Did the people who voted for him honestly believe his promises? If they did, then I've got some awesome land in the Green River area for sale.
Robert Greer, Brandon
Tribe gets okay to kill 2 eagles | March 14
Religious rites have limits
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit to allow the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming to kill two bald eagles for religious purposes. By that logic, if there were descendants of Aztecs, would we allow them to sacrifice a human because it's part of their religion?
The freedom of someone's religion clearly oversteps its boundaries when it harms someone or something else. Shame on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Barbara Cabrera, Beverly Hills
An 11-minute meeting, at great expense March 15
Rep. Joe Gibbons said it right: "If taxpayers understood the process they would be very upset." I don't understand the process, but when we came here in 2000 and found that the legislative session was only two months we were astonished. How can a major state like Florida with an annual budget of $70 billion adequately legislate on such a compressed schedule?
By comparison New York state has a $135 billion budget and opens its session in January and closes it when needed. North Carolina has a budget of nearly $20 billion and has a full five-month spring session.
Years back I asked Sen. Mike Fasano why the Legislature meets for only two months. He said that it was a constitutional mandate. I suggest nothing should be cast in stone. Please change it.
Jack Bechtold, New Port Richey