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New proposal will harm Palm Harbor's IB program

Re: Bold school plans, improved by input | Oct. 19 editorial

New IB proposal will hurt program

As a parent of three graduates of the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School and as the spouse of one of the teachers in that program, I take issue with the editorial finding that Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen's revised plans for IB can be implemented "without damaging the successful programs at their current schools."

It is indeed commendable that the superintendent would initiate additional IB programs and perhaps a Cambridge program in the county, but the plan to downsize and dilute IB at Palm Harbor is a plan to do real damage to an extraordinarily successful program.

IB at PHUHS is such a stellar success in large part because every IB student is working toward the IB diploma, not just the certificate. This distinguishing feature of total immersion creates a communally shared attitude of dedication that fosters perseverance and attainment of excellence, resulting in exemplary rates of successful completion of this extremely challenging program. The only domestic school that consistently outperforms IB at PHUHS is an IB boarding school in Arizona where annual tuition exceeds $40,000.

The shared goal of earning the diploma makes a real difference in success rates. That is what the new plan would destroy, and Palm Harbor's IB program would cease to be exceptional. It would become merely ordinary. While that is not the end of the world, certainly, it is the end of something very special, something that should have been treasured, protected and held forth as an example to be emulated.

John Brockman, Dunedin

Re: Palm Harbor IB could be safe | Oct. 16 story

Janssen creates chaos and fear

There was never any real threat to Palm Harbor University High School losing its International Baccalaureate program. Superintendent Julie Janssen has an innate ability to create chaos and fear whenever there is a barrage of bad news swirling about her.

The mental abuse she caused students, parents and teachers in the school's IB program served as a great distraction from weeks of negative news reports about former director of professional development Janet Hernandez.

When negative news about John Hopkins Middle School poured out for several weeks, Janssen's passive-aggressive behavior whipped magnet teachers back into shape with the threat of taking away their supplemental pay. She took revenge on parents by announcing new bell changes, causing them to grovel at her feet for mercy. Once the attention is drawn away from the original drama, she flip-flops her decision and becomes the hero to all of her victims.

Never mind the trauma caused to students in these exchanges. Teachers and parents will be slower to criticize her in the next wave of negative reporting by the St. Petersburg Times.

Sami Leigh Scott, South Pasadena

Tampa Bay roads are too dangerous

I have been living here on and off for the last 20 years. There have always been accidents, and most are caused by inattentive drivers. What has me terrified and wanting to move out of Florida is the pedestrian and bicycle deaths being caused here by drivers who, for the most part, hit and kill and keep on driving. Yes, they must get to their hair stylist or that manicure. Can't be late for that.

I was in an accident because someone who ran a stop sign crossed five lanes of traffic on Missouri Avenue. As a result of that driver's stupidity, I am on Social Security disability for the rest of my life. But it looks like I fared far better than those poor people who get killed by drivers who just keep on driving.

Tampa Bay, if not the No. 1 place in the country for hit and runs, is still among the most dangerous places for pedestrians. The drivers think they can get away with it only because they do. Is there a police force here? Speeding tickets? Lazy police!

I'm sure if most drivers were caught for speeding, lives would be saved, there would be more income for city budgets, and the streets would be safer for pedestrians.

I'm leaving here as soon as I can.

Bertram Z. Hogan, Clearwater

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You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our website at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

New proposal will harm Palm Harbor's IB program 10/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2010 3:26pm]

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