I strongly disagree with most everything the letter writer said. .
I do not think the majority of people have opinions based on myths, I think they have facts. There's the fact that people (as the letter stated, 11 million undocumented immigrants) are coming into this great country of ours illegally, every single day.
There's also the fact that, very simply, they are coming here illegally. They are not taking the appropriate and legal steps to gain access to the United States. The letter writer says it is because of time, money and years of education. If that is the law, shouldn't it be upheld regardless of how much time, money or years of education it takes?
Our ancestors who came here followed the law. They took it seriously and with great pride and privilege. Now we have people doing it the way they want to do it, not the way the law says.
The letter writer wrote that "hopefully people of faith and knowledge can displace some of those fears with facts."
I am a person with faith and knowledge, and above are some facts. The fact is that illegal immigrants are dismissing the laws of the country they want to live in. How can this be good citizenship? How can this be a contribution to the United States? If someone wants to live here, please do, but follow the law on how to do it — legally.
L. Brady, New Port Richey
No open invitation
This response is not from a person with a fear that was created by myths. It is from a person who believes in the law and the definition of the word "illegal." These 11 million people the letter writer speaks about are not undocumented immigrants, they are illegal immigrants.
Yes, it takes time and desire to enter this country legally. That's for a purpose. My grandfather came here in 1910 and had to have a job, a sponsor, learn the language and wait almost a year before he could bring over the rest of his family. This is how immigration was done for years.
Now we say, come on in and we'll pay for your school, your food and your health care. No one paid the early immigrants anything except what they worked for.
Immigrants have helped make this country what it is today — legal immigrants, that is. Yes, immigration procedures need some updating but not a sweeping "come on in."
Harry Johnson, Tierra Verde
Use Mexico's rules
Forget the Arizona law! Let's just adopt the General Law on Population enacted in Mexico in April 2000. This law mandates, among other things, up to two years in prison or immediate deportation for illegal immigrants. If they are caught while attempting to re-enter, they may be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Visa violators may be sentenced to six-year terms and Mexicans who aid illegal immigrants are considered criminals.
The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to "economic or national interests," who are not "physically or mentally healthy" or lack the "necessary funds for their sustenance" and for their dependents.
Let's hear from Mexico's President Felipe Calderón on "racial discrimination" when following Mexico's own draconian approach to enforcement and compliance.
Harvey A. Smith, Palm Harbor
A grim future for many black males Bill Maxwell, Aug. 29
Parents are the only real advocates
Bill Maxwell hits the mark when he urges that the changes needed to improve black male graduation rates begin with greater parental involvement.
Unfortunately, parents seem to drift in and out of the education process based on which community activist is able to generate the most street noise about an issue — and the issues on which the community activists tend to focus are not those that impact educational achievement or graduation rates.
The "system" to which Maxwell refers is not without fault, but the fault is not that the system has failed these children. Rather, it is that the "system" tolerates academic failure, on-campus violence and other cancers that destroy the education process from within.
The danse macabre in which principals, teachers, their respective unions, community activists and civil rights lawyers play their well-worn roles reflects the failure of every stakeholder in the process. The lawyers take their engagements with the aim of enhancing their reputations, utilizing community activists who seek to enhance their reputations. The main purpose is often to secure from the "system" some type of consent decree that will furnish the civil rights lawyers with an evergreen source of fees without accomplishing anything whatsoever for students.
Parents must recognize that they are the only constituency that can truly put their children's educational welfare in a priority position.
Jeffrey Meyer, Clearwater
Low reading scores
Give reading priority
Bill Maxwell is a local hero for continuously bringing to our attention the low reading scores of minority children.
They will never get better if we continue to do what we have been doing in trying to teach children to read.
I have another suggestion and approach. We know that the majority of our locked up persons are functionally illiterate; most cannot read above a second-grade level.
My suggestion is that we teach all our children to read no matter how long it takes. With the technology we now have at our disposal, it seems to me that children will learn to read, and by knowing how to read they will be in a position to fill out an employment form, write a letter to a possible employer, in essence be part of an employable work force.
If it takes four or five years to learn to read, so be it. The alternatives are terrible for the young person and for the society in general. Do nothing else but teach reading and the young person will begin to feel a self-worth, a sense of belonging. This is something that must be alien to them and so they turn to destructive behavior out of frustration and a sense of despair.
How long will it take before the Pinellas school system admits that something is not working? Are we to go through another generation of frustrated young people, not to mention those teachers who have been given an impossible task the way things are currently structured?
Herb Snitzer, St. Petersburg
Black group set to oppose more fundamental schools | Sept. 8, story
Stable families essential
The conflict over fundamental schools in south Pinellas County shows the different interests of those who come from intact homes and those who come from broken homes. Some 70 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock. Low-income single mothers are often too stressed to provide the assistance to their children that fundamental schools require. Therefore African-American community groups oppose fundamental schools.
But more than 50 percent of Hispanic children are now born out of wedlock. More than 50 percent of all children born to mothers without college degrees are born into a single-parent family, which means a large percentage of poor whites. These groups will be increasingly drawn into the educational vortex which now produces low 20 percent high school graduation rates among Pinellas County black males.
The solution of the African-American community groups is to spend more money on the schools, which means higher taxes. Meanwhile, intact families are increasingly alienated from the public school system, and often express their rage by being completely obstructionist regarding all taxes and government spending.
We need to be able to frankly discuss that the changes to marriage in the past 50 years have produced conditions that are oppressive to the poor. We need to re-link marriage and procreation. We must discourage single motherhood. Procreation and marriage must contain obligations.
Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg
An immoral use of human life | Sept. 7, letter
A scientific treasure
Anyone who writes as a medical doctor has the obligation to write without prejudice, and when speaking scientifically, must show the proof, not moral but scientific proof, that what he says is correct, and can be shown to be correct by unbiased observation.
When a physician says, "Based on scientific evidence, not religious prejudices, embryonic stem cell research destroys human life," he must show the unbiased source of his statement, and show that it is not the result of his religious beliefs. Who defines life?
The letter writer claims that because DNA at fertilization contains the sequences of adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine, which have the potential to become a human being, it must be accorded the same rights as a living, already born, human being. This is a dangerous road to go down. Horses, dogs, turtles, and even roaches, have the same four DNA components, but in different sequences.
It should be remembered that this is his genuinely held opinion to which he has a definite right. My opinion is that if there is a chance to regenerate a cut spinal cord, or heal a Parkinson's disease victim, or any number of other ailments in those already born, loved, suffering, and thinking, it should be pursued with all speed.
It is not a "plague of unused embryos" but a rich scientific treasure that could do wonders for our health and that of generations to come. Not using these soon-to-be discarded embryos for research is what I consider immoral.
Lois Fries, retired registered nurse, Largo
An immoral use of human life | Sept. 7, letter
Many people can be helped
Although I respect the opinion of the physician who wrote this letter condemning the use of embryonic stem cells, I would like to state a case for that research and use.
It has been proven that stem cells have been used successfully in treating a number of previously untreatable problems. The use of stem cells has enabled some stroke victims to recover sufficiently to live productive lives; children with epilepsy have been able to grow up to be responsible citizens; and patients with multiple sclerosis have been cured. These are only a few of the stories of successful uses of stem cells and surely the future will find many more.
I agree with the doctor that in vitro fertilization should be strictly monitored, as should embryonic stem cell use. Pregnancies should not be aborted merely to obtain the embryonic stem cells, but I can find no problem with benefiting from unused embryos. Surely the good doctor would not discourage further exploration of embryonic stems cells should he have a child or other loved one with a hitherto incurable problem who could be helped through this research.
Renee G. Salzer, Seminole
Mike Luckovich cartoon | Sept. 9
A positive message
I am always a little surprised when an editorial cartoonist draws a positive, yet effective, cartoon. The Mike Luckovich cartoon of Sept. 9, depicting an American mother telling her child, "Not all Muslims are hateful," and an Arab mother telling her child, "Not all Christians are hateful," each while watching depictions of hatred for the other, is outstanding.
With the exception of a few Americans who pull stunts in order to get publicity for themselves (Koran burning) or instill fear for political reasons (anti-Manhattan Muslim center), most parents want their children to know that the world has more love than hatred.
We will soon see satire of politicos falling short, but it is good to see that we are able to celebrate human kindness — in an editorial cartoon.
Larry Bush, cartoon historian, Lutz