Income propaganda | letter, March 3
Teachers don't have that much time for second jobs
As a teacher for 34 years, I used to cringe when I read letters like Elvina Bergmann's about how teachers work six-hour days for only half a year. Now that I am retired, I am pleased to have the time to correct the misinformation she presented.
Teachers are required to arrive at school by 8 a.m. and stay until 3:30 p.m.: 7.5 hours. Many teachers arrive earlier and stay later. Most spend an additional one to three hours at home, correcting papers and planning lessons for the following day. Staff meetings, team meetings and parent conferences add even more hours to their workdays.
Her math is also wrong when she says teachers work 185 days, leaving "180 days to work at another job." No one works 365 days, unless they work seven days a week. Once you subtract weekends, holidays and the typical two-week vacation, that leaves 241 days for the typical worker. Subtract the 185 days teachers are contracted to work, that leaves 56 days that teachers work less than a nonteacher. But teachers don't just show up for the first day of school. Most teachers spend two to five days setting up their classrooms and more time closing up at the end of the year. So that leaves 46 to 52 days that teachers work less than nonteachers. Where I taught in Massachusetts, teachers had keys to the school so that we could get into our classrooms on weekends. I would average two extra days each month; that's another 20 days. Subtract that from the 46 days, and you get a truer picture of the real hours that the majority of teachers work.
Jan Demers, Clearwater
As to the letter that complained of teachers being paid too much for part-time work: Let's admit it, teachers are glorified babysitters, so let's pay them as babysitters. The last time we used a babysitter, we paid $5 an hour. But teachers aren't worth that, so let's pay them, say, $3 an hour for each child, 25 students to a class. So let's see, that works out to about $94,500 for 180 days, and we shouldn't pay them a penny more!
M. Stewart, Lutz
Giant step backward on restoration rights | editorial, March 1
Bondi is right
How fortunate for Florida that we have a governor and attorney general who are not classical politicians, but proceed with programs and budgets based on sound business decisions designed to protect the majority of Florida residents.
The arguments posed by the attorney general are not a "red herring" but based on sound professional judgment. If a felon wants his/her rights restored, then make an application under the current rules so that the totality of the subject's arrest and conviction rate coupled with gainful employment can be reviewed.
I am personally sick and tired of pro-Democrat groups making specious arguments and finding innovative ways to expand their ranks, including support from this newspaper. Arguing that a disproportionate number of African-Americans are affected by this process speaks for itself, because they represent the largest number of inmates, with Hispanics a close second.
Paul J. Marino, Belleair Beach
High court upholds 'hurtful' protests | March 3
Let me get this straight: It is okay for a group of people to turn a somber event into a circus? While there is a First Amendment right to free speech, that doesn't mean that anyone can go out and disrespect the very ones that have died to give them that right. The members of Westboro Baptist Church should be ashamed of themselves. Not only are they disrespecting the brave soldier who died but also his family. The U.S. Supreme Court siding with them is the biggest disrespect of all to these families. I hope in the future the Westboro Baptist Church will find a different way to protest, but I don't see them doing that because its members don't know what true compassion is. They are hate mongers of the worst kind who don't care whom they hurt or disrespect.
James Wilson, Tampa
Drown out the hate
Clearly, we now have to come out in droves to be the other "free speakers" outside any military funerals. We need to drown out these very sick people, so the mourners can have their funeral in peace.
Perhaps we can bring loudspeakers and play and/or sing appropriate songs for the funeral and carry huge signs that will block the view of the terribly inconsiderate, disturbing, un-American signs of the Westboro folks.
I find it interesting that the Westboro folks did not appear at the funerals of the three St. Petersburg police officers. Was that because there was such a huge police presence? Was it because killing a police officer is not "loved by God"? Who knows? It is impossible to know because the thinking of the Westboro folks is not rational.
Esther Kirk, Riverview
Senate bill strengthens insurance market | letter, March 2
Sinkhole bill is bad
State Sen. Garrett Richter's letter touting SB 408, a bill full of favors for the insurance industry, is blatantly disingenuous.
His letter leaves out most of what the bill actually does. SB 408 says insurers "may" offer sinkhole coverage but current law says "shall." Most companies, including Citizens, aren't going to offer sinkhole coverage in Pasco or Hernando, but banks are still going to require the coverage. The result: another wave of foreclosures and no further financing available. Jobs will be lost.
SB 408 does not extend "file and use" requirements for rate increases, meaning insurers can now raise your rates, and regulators can ask questions later. This is also called the "horse out of the barn" problem. Once rates are raised, it's hard to get them back down, ever.
Richter says Florida pup companies are losing money. Arrgh! Evidence shows they are shipping the money back to their parent companies, into fake management companies, or even into offshore affiliates. The property insurance industry has enjoyed a very profitable decade. The use of discredited "black box" models produced this bonanza. Why doesn't Richter's bill do anything about that?
Finally, Richter says we need to "attract capital." If he truly believes that, he should file a bill to reduce the state's role in the reinsurance business. The Cat Fund is the real source of taxpayer capital competing with the private market, not Citizens. Citizens sweetens the market for the other 415 insurers because it takes all the high-risk customers.
No consumer advocates I know support SB 408. Few were allowed to testify in his committee. Let's encourage our Tampa Bay area senators to stand up for consumers and oppose SB 408.
Bill Newton, Tampa