Monday, November 20, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: School reforms not one-size-fits-all


Common Core reversal | Sept. 24

Reform isnt one-size-fits-all

Gov. Rick Scott recently issued an executive order that pulls Florida out of the PARCC system of assessments for the new Common Core State Standards. In response, House Speaker Will Weatherford released a statement saying, "I applaud Governor Scott for taking decisive and bold action to affirm Florida's constitutional role in education. For the past 15 years, Florida has been on a purposeful road to improve our schools through higher standards, greater accountability and higher pay for our best teachers. These efforts are paying off and our students are achieving better results."

What is clear is that the education system in Florida is clearly broken. After 15 years of high-stakes testing, school grading and now an evaluation system of teachers based on testing, the public is losing faith in how the state manages public education.

Scott's executive order puts a heavy burden of the blame on the federal government for efforts at controlling local schools. But that is exactly what the state has been doing for 15 years. The real experts on education reside in the classrooms and schools throughout the state. Local communities know better than the state what works and doesn't work in schools. They adapt to local needs and don't use the one-size-fits-all template that has been imposed by Tallahassee for too many years.

While the governor's approach might lead to some positive changes, we need a complete overhaul of the accountability system from top to bottom. Florida's teachers and school employees have been repeatedly ignored when political leaders and the Tallahassee education establishment have built this flawed system. It is long past time that teachers and other school employees be included as an integral part of forming a new education system that can be strongly supported by parents, students, teachers, administrators and the political leadership.

If the same education "reformers" who built this broken system are charged with making minor changes, the system will still be broken. Without any input and buy-in from the education experts in the classrooms and the local schools, public education in Florida will not make any real progress.

This is an opportunity for Florida to set public education on the right path. The governor's executive order said that the evaluation system should help teachers support student learning. That would be a great improvement over the current system that generates data that is used to shame and blame teachers and schools.

Kenny Blankenship, Land O' Lakes

Common Core reversal | Sept. 24

Pitch in to help schools

There seems to be a lot of concern, time and emotion being spent protesting new standards in education. I have been unable to find any specific, substantive objections that anyone has to these standards; it seems to be more of a general principles sort of thing. I would like to suggest a more impactful use of time and/or resources to help improve education in Florida.

My husband and I, recently retired, were recruited by a friend to volunteer at a middle school a few months ago. It didn't take long before we were hooked on "our" kids, many of whom are born with two strikes against them from the get-go. They struggle with basic literacy and math skills, for a number of reasons, from homelessness to poor environment to medical.

The needs of these students are endless. We are inspired by the dedication of staff members who, though underpaid, spend their own time and funds on other people's children, and by the dedicated volunteers we have met — but they are all spread thin.

So if you want to use your time or financial resources to make a positive impact on education, there are two ways:

If your schedule permits, volunteer. Even an hour a week, perhaps helping out in a classroom or mentoring a kid at lunchtime, can make a real difference. Most kids respond to a caring tutor, one-to-one.

Can't volunteer? Then donate supplies — packets of pencils, notebooks, or felt pens — or perhaps finance a field trip for a child or two, or a class.

What have we learned from our experience in our school? Standards, schmandards — your schools need help.

Joan Sowick, St. Petersburg

Greenhorn and spam in Senate | Sept. 26, editorial

Let the majority rule

The editorial, memorializing Ted Cruz's historic and heroic nonsensical speechifying, was right on.

I am not particularly thrilled with the Affordable Care Act either, but recognize that something was needed and that a single-payer system was "a reach too far."

This is America, where majority used to rule and anarchy was not allowed to interrupt progress with endless kvetching with no hint of an alternative plan. Dr. Seuss is an excellent choice to highlight the childish behavior of the Congress.

Bernard Waryas, Dunedin

Obama mocks 'crazy' Obamacare warnings Sept. 27

Receptive audiences

Whenever President Barack Obama wants to promote his unpopular agenda, he carefully picks his audience. While the vast majority of Americans are not infatuated with the Affordable Care Act, he takes his case to the nearest grade school, middle school, high school, community college or convenient liberal arts college to get the response his ego desires.

While these folks may be bright people, they are undoubtedly the least politically savvy segment of the population. They have yet to have to pay for all these "free" and wonderful programs. If he faced an audience of hard-working, taxpaying "adults," his reception would be quite different. Come talk to the folks who pay for your ultra-liberal giveaways.

Don Niemann, Seminole

Technology to the rescue | Sept. 25, letter

The texting cure

The letter writer has a great idea for a solution to texting while driving. The phone, noting the movement of the vehicle, would not function for the would-be texter.

Picture yourself, though, with a teenage son or daughter in the backseat unable to use their phones due to the movement of the vehicle. Never fear, tell them, there will be a tomorrow. But — OMG — without the use of their phones, they might even start talking to you!

Ramon Navarro, Riverview


Monday’s letters: Doctors should speak up on harassment

Sexual harassmentDoctors need to speak upThe recent widespread recognition, followed by disapproval, of sexual harassment across many workplaces signals a paradigm shift in social attitudes toward abuse of power that is long overdue.The male-dominate...
Published: 11/17/17

Saturday’s letters: Reservoir project off to a good start

Lake OkeechobeeReservoir project off to good startThis year, more than 70,000 Floridians contacted their legislators to support expediting a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee. Another 150 business people, anglers, health care professionals a...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Sunday’s letters: Roundabout way to help the rich

Senate GOP’s tax plan to kill ACA mandate | Nov. 15Devious way to hurt middle classSo, let’s see if we have this straight. The proposed amendment to the Senate tax plan, to kill the individual mandate, will cause young people to not buy health in...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Friday’s letters: Stop laying blame on teachers

Hillsborough teachers are set to protest | Nov. 14Stop laying blame on teachersI am a veteran teacher, coming up on 30 years of service to public education. My mother was also an educator, clocking over 40 years of service in public education. Sh...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Nov. 17

Questioning fees draws snarky responseYou are probably aware of the new Pasco utility fees that became effective last month.Under the dubious title of "convenience fee" for making utility payments by credit card or e-check, Pasco Utilities adds $2.75...
Published: 11/15/17

Dollars need to stay at home if south Brooksville is to survive

As a member of the Moton High School Class of 1967, I grew up a poor but very happy child because of the love given to me by all. So all I had to do was be a child and not rush to be an adult.There were many black businesses along a four-block area o...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/18/17

Wednesday’s letters: Generosity makes all the difference

National Adoption MonthThe difference generosity makesAs a football coach, I always had to be ready to overcome unexpected challenges. With injuries, crowd noise and especially weather, the game plan is always adjusting to overcome adversity.Our stat...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17

Monday’s letters: Moore is not fit for public office

Woman: Candidate pursued her as a teen | Nov. 10Moore is not fit for public officeIt is sad that Roy Moore, a self-professed religious man, is running for a Senate seat when he is clearly unfit for any job involving the public for so many reasons...
Published: 11/10/17
Updated: 11/13/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t fall for the tax cut ruse

Tax billDon’t take your eye off the ballThe rush is on. The Republican Congress is rushing to pass a modest tax cut for the middle class while giving corporations a massive tax cut. While taking away some of the tax deductions from ordinary taxpayers...
Published: 11/10/17

Sunday’s letters: End greyhound racing in Florida

Tom Lee wants to phase out greyhound racing | Nov. 8Put a stop to this cruel industryKudos to Sen. Tom Lee for shepherding a constitutional amendment to end greyhound racing in Florida. Greyhounds forced to race live in misery and frequently die ...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/10/17