With inflated grades from taking advanced and honors classes — a perfect 4.0 GPA may no longer be good enough — students and parents are "amping up" the pressure to "perform." It is not about learning; it is about achieving the highest possible grade. Tests — especially the FCAT — do not gauge learning but forcibly cram "round" students into the "square" hole of education determined by politicians, administrators and teachers. In order to survive and achieve, some students resort to amphetamines (Adderall) and other stimulants — prescribed or otherwise.
The Times has published several articles regarding the rampant diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the use of stimulant medications to "treat" it. Many parents who feel the pressure for their children to perform desperately look for a quick solution and allow the child's pediatrician to prescribe stimulants. Very early on everyone — especially the child — learns that a crutch is necessary to get through life. And we wonder why so many children possess such poor resiliency and crumble in the face of ordinary obstacles.
Do we really believe more than 2 million children have this "mental disorder"? Do we believe that in the last five years the number of children with this "mental disorder" has increased by 26 percent? Are we not concerned with the side effects of these medications — heart irregularities, acute exhaustion or even psychosis?
M. Jim Teixeira, LMHC, Tampa
Adoption tax credit
Help for families who adopt
While the decision to adopt a child is one of the most joyful and rewarding a family can make, it may also be one of the most expensive. For most domestic infant or intercountry adoptions, the cost is typically between $10,000 and $40,000. Adoption from foster care is more affordable upfront, but children adopted from foster care often have significant special needs that may require added expenses for years to come.
The adoption tax credit, currently $12,650, goes a long way to support parents willing to give families to children who need and deserve them. In our family, the adoption tax credit was life-changing for our children because we were able to adopt five children and are looking to possibly adopt another sibling group of three.
Since 1997, the adoption tax credit has helped thousands of families defray a portion of the high cost of adoption. Although the credit has been extended every year, it has never been made a permanent part of the tax code, despite its wide bipartisan support and the strong recommendations of child welfare advocates.
Unless Congress takes action, on Dec. 31 the credit will be reduced to less than half of its current amount, and very few adoptive families will be eligible for it. Without action, the 2012 adoption tax credit will not be refundable, meaning that many lower- or moderate-income families will not benefit at all.
If American families can't afford the high costs related to adoption, it is the waiting children who will suffer — the more than 100,000 children currently available for adoption from foster care, and the countless millions of orphaned and abandoned children worldwide.
Our legislators have the opportunity to continue the life-changing support the adoption tax credit provides. Please contact your senators and representatives in Congress and ask them to act on behalf of children and families and save the adoption tax credit.
Jenni L'Eon, Seminole
We need a national ID card | June 12, letter
Passport will do the trick
The United States has a national ID card: It is called a passport, and now a card version is available. It proves citizenship in the United States and is accepted by officials of other countries.
A state-issued driver's license, voter registration card, etc., does not say "United States of America." A passport can be used to get a driver's license, but not the reverse. People all over the planet use a passport as a national identification document; it is time we did as well.
Ward Weinstock, Lutz
After mauling, he's calm | June 12
Warning on photo needed
Was it absolutely necessary to post the gruesome photograph of the victim on the Times Web home page, where viewers are subjected to it upon accessing the page? Surely you could have posted the story and provided a link to the photo with an appropriate warning.
Furthermore, I doubt that this photograph would have been released and published had the victim not been homeless and if he had family or friends to object. This cannot possibly be justified in the name of journalism, public safety, keeping the community informed, or any of the other common reasons for publishing such intrusive photographs.
Not only is it in extremely poor taste, it is completely insensitive to the victim's feelings.
Mary Jeannine Henderson, Clearwater
Lack of respect
I was appalled to see a picture of the mauling victim on the front page of the paper Wednesday. I do feel for the victim, yet I believe a person should be given a choice of whether or not to view that photo.
I have three children who routinely glance at the paper while they eat breakfast. To have that photo on the front page shows a lack of respect for the victim and others who might not care to or should not see the image.
Lynn Cornwell, Palm Harbor
Norman out of race for Senate | June 13
I'm betting he'll be back
While Republicans and Democrats alike will sometimes eat their own, as evidenced by Ronda Storms' impulsive decision to jump into Rob Turner's race, they also feather the nest of their own.
As relieved as I am to hear of Jim Norman stepping aside, I'm sure there is a less public but equally lucrative job opening awaiting him among his powerful friends. Perhaps as a new Florida Polytech board member? Or a supervisory position overseeing yet another Taj Mahal? I'm sure we haven't heard the last of Nine-Lives Norman.
Lynn Cannella, Tampa
20 years of net worth lost | June 12
Middle class dismantled
The true story of this election and this nation is the slow, systematic dismantling of the middle class. One state, Wisconsin, has all but codified the right to abolish collective bargaining for state employees, and others will surely follow. The foreign trade gaps widen on a daily basis, costing American jobs.
Now, the Fed has released a new study that the American middle class has become at least 40 percent poorer since 2007 and real wages have decreased by 8 percent.
More and more of the country's wealth is going into fewer and fewer hands. My fear that this country will eventually be torn apart by corporate greed until civil war is not just a weekend re-enactment and hobby.
Phillip Marmanillo, Safety Harbor
A split over MLK parade | June 13
Bringing a dream to life
I like state Rep. Darryl Rouson's proposal to dedicate ourselves to a day of service on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to honor King.
Although the parade is wonderful, I too believe that it is not doing much to further King's legacy. Certainly, most of us don't use the day to help move society any closer to fulfilling King's dreams and visions of true racial equality and social justice for our nation and world.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the path to a day commemorating King's work, we took a shortcut instead of using the day to further his work.
We turned MLK Day into just another public holiday like Christmas, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Most of us also don't spend those days thinking about what prompted the creation of those holidays. We rarely spend those days thinking about love and forgiveness, the men and women who sacrificed for our freedoms, the meaning of our democracy and our responsibilities as citizens, the rights and plight of workers, or the meaning of living in this great land with its vast bounty, which we have so carelessly failed to protect.
We still have a long way to go to achieve the goals for which King gave his life. Rouson's proposal would move us in the direction of working together to bring King's dream to life. We could party on the Saturday before King's Day with a parade and then get down to work on that Monday to finish the job King died doing.
Lin Young, St. Petersburg