Teen killed racing to bus | Dec. 19
Alter schedule to fit students' body clock
The article on the latest child killed running to a bus stop reminded me that high school kids are always tired, which leads to reduced judgment. Anyone who has studied learning, or even just remembers being in school, knows that high schoolers are tired before noon, that little kids get up early, and that middle school kids are a mix of both.
Obviously we need to get better, safer stops for kids of all ages, but the simple remedy is changing the schedule. Let the bright-eyed little kids go to school first. Their parents will either guard them or drive them, hopefully in carpools. These kids are up being a pain already; put their energy to school use.
Leave the middle schoolers in the middle slot because they're a mix of near-infants and near-grown-ups.
But let the big kids sleep a little later. Their scores will rocket up as they sleep later and do their work better-rested. When they have to travel it will be in daylight. Those who don't walk, bike, drive or carpool will at least be able to see traffic and defend themselves.
This idea should have been implemented decades ago for academic reasons. We now know a lot about age groups' sleep needs and no longer need school start times to be based on farmers' needs that originated in the dim age of pre-electricity.
Get this done before the clock kills another high schooler.
John Follman, Tampa
Put bus stops at schools
I made a suggestion regarding busing prior to the change of the Choice Plan. My suggestion to reduce busing costs was to have the bus stops at schools only.
For example, a child would walk to the school nearest her/his home and be bused to their school from there. The majority of families have a school within 2 miles, which is the distance which the district deems appropriate for a child to walk to school, possibly reducing the chance of death as in the tragic case last week. Instead, the board would rather place bus stops on busy streets, which increases the chance, not only of accidents, of child abductions as well.
I have four children and have always driven them to and from school. When I received the most recent bus card in the mail, I was stunned to see that my child was expected to walk to a busy intersection seven blocks west and ten blocks north when her school is southeast of where we live. We have a school four blocks south of our home. Using my suggestion, that would be much safer for the students.
Lisa Hoffman, St. Petersburg
Always pay attention
As a bus driver for Pinellas County schools, I was picking up my Largo High students in the dark of early morning on Friday, Dec. 18, when I was alarmed by the sound of a very distressed female voice over the dispatch radio. "One of my kids is lying in the middle of the road!" the bus driver cried out.
The dispatcher replied in an urgent but calm tone of voice, as he requested the information emergency vehicles would need.
Moved by the emotion in my fellow driver's voice, I took a moment at the next long red light to pick up my microphone and speak to my own teen passengers. "I think a student may have just been hit at a bus stop," I said. "I just want to remind you guys to pay attention, especially in the dark at these bus stops, but also anytime you are anywhere near a moving vehicle. Don't assume anything. Unless you can make eye contact with a driver and get a very clear signal, just don't take any chances."
Later I heard the dispatcher say the student had been "run over." I did not know she had died until I read your paper the next morning. It was upsetting to see that, from the subtitle to the lead paragraph and on into the article, the slant was against the school bus driver.
According to your article, folks who are upset and needing to blame someone are saying that the driver told the students "she wouldn't even wait for them to cross the street." If the bus driver said anything of that nature, I imagine it was in an attempt to motivate her teen passengers to get to their bus stop on time, precisely because she did not want them rushing at the last minute, running across the road after the light had changed.
Alda Thomas, Clearwater
Teach them at young age
How many of our young people have to die before we understand that we cannot make traffic cope with pedestrians and learn that we have to teach children to cope with traffic?
When they are taught from a young age that cars stop for them and that cars never go over 15 or 20 mph, they will continue to be run down.
I see the buses stop across from my house every day and the kids walk across the street not looking in either direction before they cross. They then go home and come back to play in the park, crossing the street without looking. After all, the cars stopped when they got off the bus.
We must teach these children at a very young age how to cross a street and cope with traffic.
Susan Hanes, Tampa
Stop for flashing lights
Parents do have an obligation to get their children to the bus stop on time, and bus drivers need to be more patient, especially when stopping on a busy thoroughfare, but drivers also need to take heed and stop when they see a flashing school bus light.
It is required by law that all lanes, whether two across or six, should stop.
Gail Wohl, South Pasadena
For PSC rookies, no time to relax | Dec. 21
Newest PSC appointees
are unprepared for duties
The determination of what makes a suitable Public Service Commissioner has been the subject of many articles in the media. One conclusion is that appointees should not come from industry or the staff of the commission. In addition, the commissioners should operate similarly to sitting judges and be cloistered from contact with the public and the utility industry.
Judges have attended law school and are appointed or elected from the legal community. Their qualifications include extensive experience practicing law and the demonstration of skills needed to take on the responsibilities of the court.
Public Service Commissioners are not to be experienced in the industry that will be the subject of their office. They will not be able to associate with persons employed in that industry. They also cannot attend conferences at which commissioners from other states and representatives of the utility industry attend.
The problems found in these industries and possible solutions are discussed at these conferences. This is a means of becoming knowledgeable about the industry and to share ideas.
The rookie PSC commissioners referred to in the article demonstrate just how unprepared the latest appointees are. In addition, they have clearly received their instructions from Gov. Charlie Crist that he does not want them to approve any rate increases at the January 2010 hearings. It appears they are wasting their time studying the files from the past hearings as they do not intend to approve rate increases.
With no independent knowledge about this industry and the history of developing and operating power plants, transportation and purchase of fuel to power the plants, the rookies cannot be expected to read, analyze the data and testimony, and come to an educated and experienced conclusion regarding the rate increases.
I don't think the governor and media understand the responsibilities of the commissioners and the real duties performed by them.
This should not be taken as an insult of the honest effort being taken by the two rookies to prepare for the upcoming hearings. It is just that they will be ill prepared for the tasks expected of them.
Paul C. Blatt, Dunedin
Pursue the deeper truths
Civilization has created classic literature and knowledge revealing universal truths. For 10 years I have been on a quest to read the works of history's great thinkers such as Plato, Cicero, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. The pleasure, virtue and wisdom I have received is priceless.
However, I am deeply concerned about the future of humanity. Morality and civic responsibility are replaced by instant gratification and a culture that worships celebrity. Sophisticated technology coupled with an uneducated population that is divided by extreme ideology represents a danger few fully understand. If citizens are uninformed, power is gained by the skillful use of mass media to manipulate the perception of reality.
If Earth is the only place where life has evolved, the survival of our species is of profound urgency. I urge my fellow humans to engage in intellectual pursuits with your children tonight ... and tommorow.
Mark A. Wilson, Wesley Chapel
Pull together for U.S.
Lately something has been amiss in our country. The strong sense of unification that this great nation was once known for has seemed to vanish in thin air, replaced by words of slander toward one another and rumors being spread about the very people who are overseeing the welfare of this country.
With our president's approval rating at a mere 52 percent according to a recent Gallup poll, it is obvious that our country is literally divided at the seams.
Why is this? Well, for one, rumors, which have since been proven false, have been spread throughout the country and have been forever ingrained in people's minds. People are also losing faith in him more quickly every time he spends more money to try to stimulate the economy.
Historically, though, these actions that critics claim are the wrong ones actually helped us in the Great Depression. In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt initiated the New Deal, which focused on reform, recovery and relief. Relief was given to the unemployed and reform of businesses was put forth all while promoting recovery of the economy. Thanks to this, the United States was pulled out of the worst economic times to date.
Now, let's come back to 2009. President Barack Obama has attempted to stimulate the economy by passing a huge stimulus package, worth $789 billion; he has tried to create jobs; and he has proposed new regulations on big businesses and banks.
It may take some time, but eventually the United States will begin to see results out of all of this spending, perhaps even diminishing the deficit. Americans need to come together to support their country as one, no matter their perception of the current president or policies.
David Baldwin, Brooksville
Legal hires thwarted
Florida House Republican Leader Adam Hasner threw legal workers of Florida under the train during the recent Tri-Rail boondoggle legislation in favor of illegal alien workers.
Hasner revealed his hand when Democrats offered amendments requiring an E-Verify system be used to ensure all new hires would be legal workers. Not one Republican offered an amendment requiring E-Verify.
The amendment was barely filed before Hasner filed amendments removing the language requiring E-Verify. "Leadership" knows the most effective tool to turn off the illegal aliens' jobs faucet is to mandate E-Verify for all businesses, and they are determined to keep the illegal aliens' job faucet wide open.
Arizona passed mandatory E-Verify for all licensed businesses, and in 18 months one-third of all illegal aliens self-deported and crime went down in Phoenix by 25 percent, although it remains the kidnapping and stolen car capital of the country because of illegal aliens. Similar results in Florida would result in 350,000 illegal aliens self-deporting.
George R. Fuller, Sarasota
Gone fishin'? Not yet
My wife and I recently moved back to Florida from Georgia after a 10-year absence. We got a house in Spring Hill, paid our taxes, got our new Florida drivers' licenses, registered our vehicles and registered to vote.
After doing all this, we went to get our fishing licenses and were told we had to wait six months from the day we got our drivers' licenses to get a Florida fishing license. I don't understand how we can get to vote for our leaders who make the laws but we can't catch a fish legally for six months.
Robert Nadin, Spring Hill