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State must fund reduced class sizes

Janssen weighs expense vs. basics | Aug. 14, story

State must fund reduced class sizes

Pinellas superintendent Julie Janssen is right that the cost of class-size reduction is hefty, and she is probably right that there is not much difference in student success in a classroom of 25 compared to one of 30.

If we were really interested in the research on student success, we would be looking at class sizes between 15 and 20 students.

But when it comes right down to it none of this is about research or student success. It's all about money. Fundamental schools are good! They save the district money. The class-size amendment is bad! It costs the district too much.

The irony is that the superintendent says, "… we need to give our families what they're asking for." As I recall, our families voted overwhelmingly to reduce class sizes in this state. No, it's not about research, and it's not about what our families want. It always has been about funding for education.

The Legislature, which has completely abrogated its responsibility to our schools, needs to step up and fund the class-size reductions. The high-quality public education guaranteed by our state Constitution costs money, folks.

It's time to let the governor and Legislature know they must find new revenue sources so our public education system can really be about research and what's best for kids and families.

Robert McMahon, Safety Harbor

Can you know the heart of homeless? | Aug. 12, letters

New group forms to help homeless

Responding to the overwhelming reports on the homeless in our county, here is one thing that I consider. The unfortunate truth is that the face of the homeless in our country is changing. No longer can the homeless be strictly identified as an addict or alcoholic.

There are also families with children, single persons laid off from work or even some on disability whose government check is not enough to cover expenses. More than 1,000 children under the age of 6 are homeless in this county alone.

More than 1,500 schoolchildren in this county are homeless. Imagine having to decide whether to buy food for the week or pay rent? A lot of people are only a paycheck away from being homeless.

Recently, the "Christian Coaliition for the Homeless of Pinellas County" has been formed. I sometimes volunteer to help provide hot meals to these people. I listen to them and know firsthand some of the stories. I have also seen some of these people rebuild their life. A hot meal or a grocery box full of food is all that is needed sometimes for someone to get on with their life.

I personally have seen people who were considered "homeless" come back to say, "Thanks, I now have a job and can stand again on my own."

I urge each of you to become involved with the newly formed "Christian Coalition for the Homeless." You can contact the coalition through Paul Talley of Solid Rock Christian Ministries at (727) 365-4284. Any and all help is needed.

Daniel Duffy, St. Petersburg

Pinellas spins wheels | Aug. 16, editorial

Trail should be part of area road plan

It seems as though we could kill two birds with one stone. This mass transit summit didn't mention the old Gandy "Friendship Trail." It seems as though there is a lot of controversy over repairing it or tearing it down. Why don't we use the money and stimulus to rebuild it to accommodate both uses? (The only down side I can see is possibly no fishing on the south side of the bridge.)

The county owns a lot of land in the Gateway/Toytown area. It is also near the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority main terminal. It is also my understanding that there have been plans for an elevated road on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa. This could possibly be included in the planning of that. On the Tampa side, the possibilities are endless — Crosstown, Interstate 275, Interstate 75, Interstate 4, etc.

Steve Ferris, St. Petersburg

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State must fund reduced class sizes 08/22/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 22, 2009 4:30am]
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