Freedom fighter | Dec. 6
Mandela's words to remember
In one of the many training sessions I attended as a Pinellas County teacher, a presenter quoted something without credit that stuck with me. I scribbled it down, getting it wrong, and tucked it away.
Years later I ran across my scribble and was struck again by how profound and true the quote is to my craft as a teacher and also to our community and nation. I finally researched the quote through Internet, got it corrected, and found it to be from a speech by Nelson Mandela on the occasion of the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund in 1995.
He said: "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
I believe these words are more true today than ever. Every parent, teacher, neighbor, relative, community leader, and state and federal legislator needs to ponder these words and the implication they have for us and the society in which we live.
Charles B. Wood, St. Petersburg
On the menu: protests over pay Dec. 5, Robert Trigaux column
These are entry-level jobs
I'm sick of hearing about fast food workers getting low wages. These jobs were meant to be stepping stones, not long-term employment.
In high school, I worked as a landscaper for a low wage. I quickly decided it was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. In my 20s, I started at a job that paid me $20,000 per year. I worked hard, moved to other companies and continued to increase my earnings. I also continued to improve myself so I would be more competitive for higher-paying jobs.
The way to higher wages isn't protesting fast food; it's through hard work, investing in yourself and not starting a family until you are financially ready.
Steven K. Lenardos, Tampa
Gains and losses
I am not opposed to an increase in the minimum wage, and I sympathize with the plight of low-wage workers. However, wages are determined based on the skills and ability of the worker. It is not possible for a business to tailor its wage structure to take into consideration each employee's family size and needs.
LaShonna-Kyrell Delgardo is protesting to increase her pay from $8.30 to $15 an hour. This, as Robert Trigaux points out, is an increase of over 80 percent. However, the biggest winner would be the federal government. A $15 per hour wage would increase her federal income taxes by over $4,000 and cause her to lose food stamps and Medicaid valued at around $5,300. This would shrink her increase to 16 percent. Her windfall could be further reduced if she incurs medical expenses as her cost-sharing subsidy would shrink by $3,000, which would leave her with a per hour increase of less than a dollar.
Lack of social mobility is a serious problem in this country. The gateway to the middle class depends on education and skills. We, as a country, would be better off if we addressed the barriers those at the bottom face in furthering their education rather than paying them a few more dollars to languish in a dead-end job.
Mary Anne Reilly, St. Petersburg
Do your part on wages
If you care, the next time you visit an establishment you know pays minimum wage, drop off a note indicating you would not oppose paying a few cents extra for your purchase if that establishment were to pay their employees a wage that would move them out of the "poverty wages" category. Have your note with you. Maybe have them handy, already in the car.
However, your concern and actions may not be enough. Please tell your friends about your thoughts and what you are doing, and urge them to get involved.
David M. Childress, Palm Harbor
Racism remains, despite what policymakers say | Dec. 5, commentary
Stop playing 'gotcha'
I find it hard to stomach this column's partisan response — "whoops" — to the Republican National Committee's tweet about Rosa Parks: "Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism." Does the writer really think that the Republican National Committee believes that racism does not exist in this country, or in other countries for that matter?
Why not accept the tweet as a statement in honor of Parks rather than spin hatred into it? In truth, the tweet's use of "ending" describes an ongoing process — a fact I think we can all agree on.
Stephen Small, Indian Rocks Beach
Start over on teacher ratings | Dec. 5, editorial
Parenting and poverty
The real problem with U.S. education is poverty and bad parenting.
A teacher with a classroom full of students dealing with poverty and bad parenting is a great teacher if she can teach them anything. She is much better than the teacher who gets an A out of students without these problems.
Margie Johnson, Beverly Hills
The pope vs. Rush | Dec. 5, commentary
Limbaugh should read Bible
The photos appearing over this column about Pope Francis and Rush Limbaugh prove the much-quoted dictum that a "picture is worth a thousand words." One visage shows a smiling face with a hand raised in benediction; and the other an apparently loudspoken person talking into a microphone.
Limbaugh calls Francis a socialist. I'd like to remind him that Jesus of Nazareth was considered a "socialist" and a rabble-rouser in his time.
I refer Limbaugh to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10 and the story of the rich man. He could not part with his wealth and went away sad. What did Jesus say? "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
The message of Francis is the message of the cry of the poor of this world made poorer by income inequality.
I urge Limbaugh to read the papal exhortation to Catholics and try to really understand on a deeper level what the pope's message is. I am afraid that Limbaugh's interpretation of Francis is based on news sound bites taken out of context.
Florence Laureira, Hudson