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Principals make the real difference at schools

Teacher moves affect quality | Sept. 6, story

Principals make the real difference I respectfully disagree with the premise of Saturday's front-page article suggesting that the movement of veteran teachers to affluent schools from inner city schools was bad for district-wide quality. I am a former Army officer and a retired teacher.

No one in the Army would suggest improving a situation by changing the soldiers. They would suggest new leadership, changing the generals. Similarly, if school districts are to improve inner city schools, they need to send in principals who have a proven record of success. Move those principals with a record of straight A's for their schools to those schools that have been less successful.

It is for the good of the children and should be high on the agenda of the new Pinellas County school superintendent.

Mike Anderson, Clearwater

Leadership sours things

I taught at one of those south Pinellas County "D" schools last year. I spoke with teachers every day who desired to transfer to another school. There were a lot of them. There were a few students with major behavioral problems. That was not the main reason for teachers to seek an alternate teaching location.

The No. 1 reason for teachers wanting to transfer was connected to the administration of the school. The teachers spoke of school and county policies that were not enforced or not enforced equally. They spoke of favoritism of teachers and students and lack of support by the administration.

I also heard from teachers every day about the lack of consequences for students who violated school rules. Teachers began to write referrals solely to get disruptive students out of their class for a brief period of time.

Ultimately, most teachers stay where they are and try to provide their students with the best education they are able to provide, while hoping for improvements in the areas they are not able to affect.

Dave Hinz, Clearwater

Do your homework before going to the polls

Polls tell us that many voters are still undecided about their vote in the upcoming presidential election. I would suggest that they study the issues carefully before deciding on a candidate. Read the platforms of both major parties (available online) and see which reflect your views most closely. If you can't wade through the entire 50-odd pages, check the sections that most concern you. Check the rhetoric of the TV sound bites against the party's platform to see if they are consistent.

Voters who consider themselves members of a specific party should read the platform of the other party to be sure they are not voting a certain way out of habit or tradition.

Ruthellen Pohlman, South Pasadena

Voting matters

Floridians are seriously a joke nationwide when it comes to elections. For the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Jay Leno, we are the laughingstock. Now is the time to prove who we really are: intelligent people who care about others.

If you have never voted or haven't voted recently, register to vote. Don't delay. We have a chance to clear our name. This is the year it matters more than ever. Do it now.

Nancy Waltz, Trinity

McCain speech fails to deliver on change Sept. 5, editorial

An unfair assessment

In your editorial on Sen. John McCain's speech, you condemn the attack on "the media," yet you illustrate the very media bias that justifies such attacks. You claim that Gov. Sarah Palin is "not prepared to be president" because "her record is uncomfortably thin." Yet Sen. Barack Obama, whom you clearly support, has only an invisible record of leadership. Where then are the "leadership skills" you say are necessary for the candidate "to steer this country in a new direction"? And why do you entirely omit the leadership skills Palin has already shown in several acts as governor?

You claim that McCain uses "routine scare tactics about the danger of terrorism and Russia's aggressiveness." Does this mean we should all be complacent now about terrorism and Russia's rape of the democracy of Georgia? Further, do you oppose the oil drilling that McCain favors, along with the other sources of energy he mentioned but you omitted?

One could go on with more examples of your unfair assessment of Republican speeches. But perhaps you could be honest enough to preface future editorials on national politics with the words: "As intransigent Obama supporters, we find McCain and Palin …"

Arnold Silver, Brooksville

Picture of bias?

I had just finished reading the article written by Eric Deggans, Politicians target common foe: media, in Saturday's paper, when I turned a few pages and laughed at the photo of Gov. Sarah Palin you choose to use in the "Your Letters" section.

On the one hand, the article focusing on the perceived bias of journalists was balanced and attempted to defend the neutral approach of the art of news coverage, yet on the other, you choose a photo of the Palin looking as if she was either about to sneeze or as if she smelled something really awful. Come on now. Who are you trying to kid? You must have had other photos to choose from.

Or, in fact, is this candidate's frustration with the media justified? I think something does smell bad — and it's a rat in the newsroom.

Tom Wilkinson, Palm Harbor

Repulsive party

As a patriotic citizen, I watched both conventions. I am a registered Democrat. I try to keep my points of view enlightened and opened.

I found the Republican convention pushed me even further away than I was before I watched. I have never seen so many blind white men gathered in one place at one time, following party rhetoric to the max! So much for change from this party.

What I learned from the these people is this:

"I got mine, and I am going to keep it, and the hell with you!"

Yes, I am sorry to say, that is what I heard.

Matthew Mahoney, Seminole

Right by Miles | Aug. 31, story

Courageous coverage

I would like to congratulate Meg Laughlin and the St. Petersburg Times for a job well done in the story about the death of Miles White. This is an important story and could have easily evaporated without the obvious hard work and not a little courage shown by both the reporter and the paper. Thank you.

Neal Norton, Brandon

Right by Miles | Aug. 31, story

A call for accountability

"Two teenage boys are in a car chase with a reckless, sexually perverted Polk County sheriff's deputy. The boys crash, killing Miles White, 16. But the Sheriff's Office does not investigate its deputy's involvement. Why?"

I read the article. It was convincing. If what you wrote is accurate and legally demonstrable, then heads should not just roll but prison sentences should be meted out besides what the deputy received who was sentenced for his nefarious sexual crimes. If true, the deputy ran them off the road, and then there was a cover-up. Both are crimes.

Lee Martin, Brandon

Principals make the real difference at schools 09/08/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 4:31pm]
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