Don't injure, kill animals during military training
Florida Voices for Animals, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about animal cruelty issues, is disappointed to learn that a Florida National Guard medical company has been shooting, stabbing, dismembering and disemboweling live pigs and goats in a study funded by a Defense Department grant to the University of South Florida's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation.
In this goat lab, sentient animals are subjected to physical trauma while combat medics practice hemorrhage control, airway management and emergency medical skills. While FVA acknowledges the importance of learning these skills to care for our wounded combat soldiers, procedures to address these injuries can most effectively be taught in a course using high-fidelity medical simulation, partial task trainers and immersive learning environments. In this day and age, there are numerous simulators proven to provide training without harming a single animal.
No more animals should be killed or injured in the name of "medical science" when there are proven alternatives that do not require live animals. As Col. Scott Goodrich, a surgeon with the U.S. Army, stated, "There still is no evidence that live tissue training saves lives."
Kimberly Gronemeyer, FVA board, Tampa
Shine light on mystery donations Dec. 2, editorial
Money buys power
I have too much respect for your editorial wisdom to think that you are so naive as to believe that the Washington power brokers would kill the golden goose by requiring political donation disclosure. All politicians, regardless of party, are committed to one common goal: staying in office.
The "Abe Lincoln days" are over. Without monetary clout, a politician is doomed to failure on Election Day. Our political system will continue to chug along on the wings of wealthy men and corporations who aren't donating out of the goodness of their heart, but out of greed.
Don't expect any real campaign disclosure reform. It doesn't work for the politicians, and they make the rules, don't they?
Mick Puleo, Zephyrhills
Evaluations hint at system flaws | Dec. 4
What led to this sorry state
This headline should have been, "Evaluations hint at cultural decline." If you couple this article with the decline in the world standings, you really cannot come up with any other conclusion.
I refuse to believe our higher education institutions that produce our teachers have gotten, over the past 50 years, so inept as to produce this embarrassment in educational standards. We need to look at parents' inability to shoulder their responsibilities. Poverty, loss of social institutions, abdication of parenting to the schools, no parental evaluations or responsibility, unfunded federal and state mandates — these are but a few of the issues that have caused the sorry state of education.
But as long as we have politicians at the state and federal level whipping up the electorate (parents) by making the teachers the scapegoats, then nothing will be done to improve the lot of students or educators.
Richard Longden, Land O'Lakes
The keys to good teaching
The problem with teacher evaluation forms is simple. These forms are written by administrators and teachers who know nothing about teenagers or good teaching.
I had a wonderfully successful 35-year career teaching in Cicero, Ill., because I immediately realized that teenagers don't think like adults. In the movie Saturday Night Fever, when told to "save" for the future, Tony said: "The future is tonight." Secondly, I realized that a genuine affection for students is vital to meaningful communication.
Do you know all of your students' names the first week? Do you know something special about each student? Is there shared "joy" in the classroom where every student feels accepted? I can be in any classroom for 15 minutes and know if the teacher is going to be successful. It is about the tone set by the teacher. You can feel it, every time. It is first about fulfilling student needs and, then, about curriculum and testing.
Great teachers know these elements. Administration is lost. Therefore, in our Catch-22 educational system, administrators and Arne Duncan set the standards.
Robert F. Clifford, Tarpon Springs
Scott's elections official signals vote truce Dec. 4
Clark's public service
I would say that Secretary of State Ken Detzner had no choice but to "stand down" after he found himself up against Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark. I congratulate Clark on doing her job as a public official. It's nice to see, every once in a while, a public servant actually speaking on behalf of the public.
Darryl David, St. Petersburg
Switch to mail ballots | Dec. 2, letter
Risks of early voting
A letter writer suggests that everyone should vote by mail. What would happen if you sent in your ballot two to three weeks early and then found out your candidate got busted with one week to go for smoking crack?
Sorry, no do-overs.
James Molloy, Pinellas Park
Sales tax fairness for Florida Dec. 4, editorial
A small business burden
On the surface the sales tax solution you wrote about in this editorial sounds like a good idea, but is it really?
So a small business in New York that wants to sell items via the Internet is supposed to keep 45 sets of books, one for each state that has assessed a sales tax? I think that puts too much burden and increases the costs on a small or even a large business unfairly.
I believe the real solution would be for each state to collect its sales tax on sales made at the point of sale, where the item is located when the purchase is made. Internet sales are a totally different animal.
The bottom line is your idea sounds like something big government would legislate, rather than something that is simple, foolproof, and easier to police and enforce.
Fred Singleton, Largo