Outside influence steers leaders
Re: Leader must live up to title on sprawl, June 22 Dan DeWitt column
That's the problem with Hernando County Commissioner David Russell Jr.: He is focused on one objective. He can't possibly think outside the box.
What motivates leaders to make decisions that are unpopular? It certainly does not represent a majority of Hernando County residents. But it does represent builders and developers. I think we know where Russell stands on his choice. Yet, he is not alone. It just proves that the supermajority still does not represent a majority of the county. The only commissioner strong enough to take a stand on sprawl is Diane Rowden.
DeWitt points out that Russell chaired the House Transportation Committee when he was our state representative. He certainly understands the consequences and cost for infrastructure for such developments. Does he not represent his constituency in the county he was elected to serve? Why did he vote for Lake Hideaway? His decision certainly did not consider transportation, as DeWitt pointed out.
If THE Bus costs $600,000 a year to the county, which has a budget of more than $121-million, that represents less than one-half of 1 percent of the entire budget. That is a little shortsighted when you are cutting $2-million from pavement management, which could have been paid for from a 1-cent-per-gallon increase in sales tax. All of us who are now paying more than $1 per gallon more would have gladly sacrificed 1 penny out of a dollar to keep our roads safe. But again, we aren't running for re-election.
True leadership thinks outside the box with no outside influences. If our commissioners would consider every consequence of their decisions and evaluate them before they make their decisions, then maybe Hernando County wouldn't be struggling to balance its budget.
Vito J. Delgorio Sr., Spring Hill
Stories exclude many mothers
As a mother, I read every parenting story with real interest; however, most of the time, I am left with the feeling that those stories are incomplete or lacking in content. For instance, when an article goes on and on about the benefits of breastfeeding, what is the general public to think? What about mothers with medical conditions that prevent them from breastfeeding? What about adoptive parents and their children? What about the grandmothers who suddenly became mothers of their children's children?
I totally agree that people need to know about the benefits of breastfeeding. I also agree that breast milk is the best meal an infant can ever wish for. However, there are really great alternatives to breastfeeding for those who, for one reason or another, are simply not able to breastfeed their infants. All I need is for the parenting stories to go one step further to offer solutions for those who would love to breastfeed but can't — people like me, whose children were adopted at birth.
Madeline Berk, Spring Hill
Mass gifted tests miss the mark
The mass gifted screening to find replacements for the disenfranchised students who aren't going to the new gifted center raises questions.
Under normal circumstances children are tested when educators or parents — or both — notice certain gifted characteristics. It usually is an exceptional student, but not always. "Acting out'' and boredom also are signs to the trained observer to probe more deeply.
High FCAT scores by themselves are not a gifted characteristic.
So, why is the Hernando County school district frantically testing anybody with a high FCAT score? It is curious they are not mass-screening at Challenger K-8, where every child in my son's third-grade, nongifted class scored a 5 on the FCAT. This is a political move to recoup lost funding and fill spaces at the gifted center at Explorer K-8.
Sure, they may find a handful of moderately to profoundly gifted, and that's a good thing. The truth is they should be testing anyway based on classroom interaction and parent-teacher reports over a period of time.
So, what about the kids who have worked hard to get good FCAT scores, the ones who hadn't shown any obvious gifted characteristics before, but based on the FCAT and NRT are now maybe, on brief enthusiastic screenings, showing one or more of the over 50 gifted characteristics. IQ tests are part of it. With the mean being 100, a score of 130, i.e., two standard deviations above the mean on the bell curve, should get you in. A 120 will be fine on plan B. One deviation, i.e., and a score of 115 is considered normal.
One purpose of the new Immersion Gifted Center is to allow moderately to profoundly gifted students to speed through the regular curriculum they find very easy and move onto a more challenging, and for them enjoyable, education. This is great and I'm 100 percent for those it suits. But will it suit mildly gifted kids? The hard workers, perhaps excelling and feeling confident about themselves for the first time?
They may struggle and lose confidence with the bar so high. Speeding through the regular curriculum may damage them in the long run. Many of these kids already benefit in streamed classes with their "official' gifted friends in the current inclusion program.
Counties should be wary of generating income by taking over advantage of a funding system designed in good faith to help those who truly need it. Short-term gains may be outweighed by a long-term overhaul of the system. Does Hernando County want to follow this dangerous path in the current economic climate?
Jeff Fuller, Brooksville