Friday, February 23, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday's letters: Many tutors provide quality service

A Times investigation: No cash left behind Feb. 10-11

Dedicated tutors provide students quality service

In response to your series on Supplemental Education Services, I join thousands of members of the Tutor Our Children coalition in condemning abuses in the SES program. As with any program, there have been bad actors, and TOC strongly believes they should be held accountable. However, it is unfair to paint, with the same brush, the many conscientious providers who strive to provide quality tutoring support to children struggling in low-performing schools. TOC is at the forefront of efforts to critically evaluate and enhance this program, including supporting federal legislation designed to expand access to tutoring while requiring rigorous certification, reporting and accountability for tutoring providers.

TOC was founded by tutoring services providers. We are proud of our efforts to give a voice to parents and students who support this program but are forgotten in the debate over education reform.

There is ample research documenting the efficacy of SES tutoring. A study by the U.S. Education Department found the vast majority of participants in SES are from underrepresented minority backgrounds and that SES participation and achievement gains were statistically significant in both mathematics and reading.

The Hillsborough County School District was one of five measured in the study where students benefitted significantly from SES tutoring. A 2012 Florida Inspector General report also found that "significant learning gains were realized" as a result of SES, and that the program "is beneficial and effective in enhancing the academic achievement of students."

SES tutoring provides vital academic support to children of families who otherwise lack the means to pay for this basic assistance. Imposing rigorous standards on SES programs while ensuring our most vulnerable children have continued access is the right thing to do.

Stephanie Monroe, Tutor Our Children, Baltimore

Florida budget

Scott's correct priorities

Gov. Rick Scott recently released his budget for fiscal year 2013-14, and his emphasis is rightly placed on education and jobs. This is where our state's focus must be to continue building a skilled workforce and growing jobs.

One of many proposals of note is the governor's recommendation to double the annual funding for Florida's Quick Response Training Grant program, from $6 million to $12 million. This grant program directly helps expanding Florida businesses like Pinellas County-based Power Design Inc. The company expects to hire and train 134 people with the help of a QRT grant awarded in 2012. This performance-based, partial reimbursement program heightens productivity, enhances employees' skills and increases workers' wages upon completion. Recent data show employees' wages, on average, increased by nearly 30 percent after receiving QRT-supported training.

As chairman of the Workforce Florida board of directors, I applaud Scott for putting Florida's families first in his proposed state budget.

Dwayne E. Ingram, chairman, Workforce Florida Inc., Odessa

It's not limited to Greer | Feb. 12

Keep after this scandal

Adam C. Smith has done an outstanding job on the coverage of the Jim Greer case. He has made the point that Greer was not in this alone and covered the relationships to former Gov. Charlie Crist and others fairly. His comments on the relationship between Greer and the current administration were right on.

I would hope that Smith and this paper now move forward and address these issues in the other parties in our state and perhaps become a force to change this problem. I am sure all parties have this problem and we need, as noted by Smith, major changes in the law and the enforcement of these laws.

Sadly, this problem is at the national level as well as the local level.

Rich Prestera, Treasure Island

Truth is still out there

The Republican Party pulled a coup by having Jim Greer plead guilty, sparing a trial. A trial would have embarrassed not only the Florida GOP but the national party as well, and its "poster boy" Marco Rubio.

Contrary to GOP attorney Steve Dobson's statement, now we will never know the truth. There were too many powerful politicians involved. As citizens and voters we should have all the facts of the case.

If the GOP wants to claim its innocence in this case, Greer should receive the maximum punishment and not a slap on the wrist for taking one for the party.

Joseph Rohrbacher, Spring Hill

Florida Orchestra

Dynamic podium presence

My wife and I have been attending symphonies in Tampa since 1959. I have been out of state for seven months and returned to read that Stefan Sanderling is now conductor emeritus and artistic adviser, and that the orchestra is having a series of guest conductors so board members can chose a new music director and conductor.

Although Sanderling may be an excellent music director, I always thought his stage presence was rather mediocre and he lacked animation and vitality on the podium.

Having attended the Feb. 8 pops concert, I was extremely impressed with guest conductor Victor Vanacore. His stage presence was exhilarating. He was personable, effervescent and exuberant. The audience loved him. If the board could pry him away from the smog in Los Angeles it would be a feather in their caps. I believe that such an esteemed conductor of his status would definitely increase ticket sales.

Edward C. Prange, Tampa

Who's at the Trop? Feb. 10

Flesh out the figures

Only 800 season ticket fans from St. Petersburg? Why not include the total number from Pinellas County? That would be a relevant figure for the discussion. It would also be important to know how many of us in the county have partial season ticket packages. Admittedly the number quoted is low and in need of improvement, but these other numbers are important as well.

We have been partial season ticket holders from Pinellas for more than a dozen years. When the kids were at home they also had tickets. Now that they're gone, we still have tickets for ourselves.

A year ago we attended a Sunday evening concert at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. We were stuck in a traffic jam that was literally 2 miles long trying to get to the Forum, and that was on a Sunday. Frankly, if the stadium were in Tampa, the Rays would see us no more than a couple of times a season. We are not interested in sitting in weekday rush-hour traffic in Tampa.

John Fischer, Palm Harbor

President urges: Let's get it done Feb. 13

No help for jobless

Young black men in America's inner cities already have unemployment rates nearing 50 percent, and so to "help" them President Barack Obama wants to raise the minimum wage.

Coupled with having to pay for Obamacare, this will give employers more reason than ever to refuse to hire, and those with the poorest job prospects will face even harder times.

Rolf Parta, Bradenton


Saturday’s letters: Preserve home rule in Florida

LegislaturePreserve home rule in FloridaOn behalf of the members of Business Watch, a trade association for government contractors, I would like to voice our dismay over the Legislature’s wholesale attack on home rule. As local government contractors...
Published: 02/23/18

Thursday’s letters: Second Amendment is outdated

Second AmendmentCongress can act on firearmsThe Second Amendment is outdated, since it is predicated on the need for a "well regulated militia." Militias are defined as civilian soldiers trained under the command of competent military leadership. The...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/22/18

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18