We must reinvent education model June 24, guest column
Schools must team up with employers
If we choose to listen, Carl Zimmermann's article on the need to reinvent schools may be the most important piece of educational journalism you have ever published. Somewhere along the line we forgot what the purpose of our school system is. We think it has something to do with abstractly "educating children." And so we fill them up with classical literature, trigonometry and chemistry with the idea that the well-rounded student, steeped in rigorous mental exercise, is prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
For the college-bound, this approach works. But for the majority who intend to enter the workforce immediately, this approach is failing miserably, failing so miserably in fact, that most of these students end up dropping out altogether.
The purpose of the public schools is to train the workforce of tomorrow. We can't even begin to properly train that workforce if we don't accept the simple fact that only a small percentage of students are college-bound. For the rest, only basic reading, writing and math skills are required. Hand-wringing over high school FCAT scores only exacerbates the problem. The question isn't "Why can't Johnny read this expository essay on fruit bats?" The question is "Can Johnny read well enough to be a competent HVAC tech?"
The noncollege-bound need other skills, vocational skills that can be marketed and applied in an increasingly competitive 21st century working environment. That is why, as Zimmermann points out, it is imperative that the employers and the schools team up to design vocational academies and curricula that produce workers and not unemployable drop-outs or equally unemployable well-rounded graduates with 13 years of schooling but no marketable job skills.
Rickard Webster, St. Petersburg
Learning as they serve June 24, story
What perks will homeless get next?
After these shelters, now being constructed by students, are given to the homeless, I wonder how long it will be before hundreds more homeless people head for St. Petersburg?
What an attraction. We go from sleeping on streets and under bridges, to getting our own tent, with people coming around each day to feed us. Now we will get our own little building.
But with it being so hot here, I really think air conditioning is a must, and for those few cold weeks in the winter, maybe a small heater.
I wonder when the demands will get to the point of a plasma TV? Oh, that would never happen. Would it?
Jim Bardsley, St. Petersburg
Golf carts save gas, give independence | June 24, letter
40th Street is no place for golf carts
It's obvious the letter writer has never traveled 40th Street between Mainlands and Wal-Mart, otherwise he or she would have noticed the road has double yellow lines. If you check your driving manual, this means no passing. A vehicle would not be allowed to pass a slow-moving golf cart: Think about the road rage this will promote. And it's obvious the writer hasn't watched the cars that race along 40th Street. Yes, even with speed humps. The writer has no idea the number of vehicles that "bottom out" flying down this street, hitting these bumps. Now let's put a golf cart out there, in their way.
The writer also states there is not a lot of traffic on this road. You must be joking. That is an extremely busy two-lane street. I live at 40th Street, so I can say this. Drivers coming from and to Mainlands, the Gateway Industrial Park, cutting through from U.S. 19, mechanics testing vehicles from Toyota, they all use this road. Maybe the letter writer needs to take a better look. Allowing golf carts on the street is a disaster waiting to happen. Not if, when.
And let's not forget that four-way stop sign at 82nd Avenue and 40th Street. We've requested many times an "unmarked" police vehicle be stationed out of sight to watch all the sign runners to no avail. Everyone is in a big hurry to get to or leave Wal-Mart. The city of Pinellas Park could recoup all their lost budget from this little intersection alone. Now add a golf cart to the mix, in the middle of the intersection. You must be joking!
Lana Golden, Pinellas Park
Stolen bike story has happy ending
My 91-year-old mother's bicycle was stolen recently from my carport in Treasure Island. It was a special bike in that she had used it last year to participate in the Meek and Mighty triathlon. This year her son used it to do his first triathlon in her honor. Many people have said that her feat inspired them as well.
I notified the Treasure Island Police Department and quite frankly did not expect it would be found. The entire staff was wonderful in taking the report, keeping me advised and using all of their resources in locating the bicycle — even to the extent of contacting Channel 10 to do a story.
Because of their efforts, a neighbor, Mary Ann Bugansky, contacted them about an apparently abandoned bicycle. It was my mother's, and it was returned to her. It was a joyful reunion!
Our heartfelt thanks to all involved. My world looks a lot brighter because of you.
Barbara Towey, Treasure Island
Take up baseball, back off mailboxes
Thirty-some years ago I stepped out of my front door to retrieve my copy of the St. Petersburg Times only to discover that my mailbox had been battered and knocked off its post. I did some moaning and groaning and spent the rest of that morning buying a new one and mounting it on the post. Not too big a deal.
Since then this has happened to me, and my neighbors, several times. Reporting the incident to the police had no evident effect. Besides, they are too busy without having to follow up on such misdemeanors.
Recently, the event was repeated, except that the entire post was knocked down. What I would like the offenders to realize is that 30 years ago this was a terrible inconvenience, but now when just driving to Home Depot is a chore, it is a major event in my life. Not only must I shell out $58 for a new unit, but I have to find someone willing to dig out the broken post. Not as easy as you might think. For another $50 I found someone.
So give me a break and find another sport. How about a baseball batting practice cage?
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole