Plan bumps up vouchers | Feb. 11, story
Don't undermine public education
This article clearly shows what our Legislature thinks of public education. Our state Constitution specifically says that the children of Florida are entitled to a free, quality education. We also have something called the separation of church and state.
The Legislature continues to ignore both of these facts as it refuses to adequately fund public education.
Meanwhile during these difficult economic times it wants to increase the amount that goes for private school vouchers. I would also like the public to know that there is little accountability for students in private schools since their enrollees are not required to take the FCAT and earn minimum scores in order to graduate.
At the same time there have been decreases in every area of public education, and teachers and students in the public school are continually asked to do much more with much less. The Legislature should truly be ashamed.
I would like to remind people that public education is the reason we have police officers, firefighters, EMTs and people who know how to fix our traffic lights. The list obviously could go on and on, but the point is we depend upon public education to provide us with qualified people who keep our citizens safe.
Please remember these facts when you vote. Excellent public education is a necessity!
Shelley Foster, Clearwater
Too much stress
What is most significant about the story of teachers giving their students pills to reduce stress is that teachers feel the need to do this (Fake pills for FCAT stress bring complaint at school, Feb. 10).
What kind of world are we creating for our children if they are this stressed in school? These are 9- and 10-year-old children! This is not the SAT and potential college rejection. These are not adults in high-stakes work situations. These are little kids who should be enjoying learning and "worrying" about whether their mothers packed the right kind of cookies in their lunch boxes.
Our education system needs to get this right, or there will be a lot of young people in our state who actually need real psychiatric medication.
Marlene Rubin, Tampa
My photo gets skewed | Feb. 7
Just let the photo speak for itself
I read Edmund Fountain's "interpretation" of the photo he recently took of President Barack Obama bowing deeply to the mayor of Tampa. I would like to address Mr. Fountain directly:
As a photojournalist, you should know that your job is only to take the photo and let the photo speak for itself. You are upset by others' interpretations of your photo. They were not at the airfield with you. What they see (your photo) is what they get. They have every right to "spin" the interpretation of the actual photo as you have "spun" your own in your Sunday article.
How can you assume that the bow is a gesture of graciousness anymore than someone else can assume it is a gesture of weakness?
Shoot the photo of reality, print it, and move on to your next assignment.
James J. Harcharik, Parrish
My photo gets skewed | Feb. 7
Appearances can deceive
Thanks to the Times for printing a commentary from photographer Edmund Fountain, who shot the now infamous picture of President Barack Obama "bowing" to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
A photo is merely an instant in time. Fountain expressed his pleasure in the photo because it was a moment of respect between two people meeting.
There was a photo last year where President Obama looks as if he's staring at a young girl's derriere. A video shows that he was merely looking down and helping his wife down a stair.
Ever had your picture taken and you blinked? Looks like you're sleeping. Sometimes things just aren't what they appear to be. I only wish Fountain's story had been on the front page of the Times.
David Lubin, Tampa
My photo gets skewed | Feb. 7
Our lost civility
Concerning Edmund Fountain's observations on President Barack Obama's "respectful bow" to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, and the resulting furor in a lack of civility, I have two words: Here, here!
Fountain has expressed the opinion of millions of Americans who are sick and tired of the rancid political atmosphere of late. A little courtesy, combined with thoughtful debate, goes a long way in solving our national issues. The prevailing pundit putridism denouncing Obama's gesture of courtesy adds nothing positive to our discourse.
D.T. Fiorini, St. Petersburg
Down with people | Feb. 10, commentary
Get back to teaching civics
A democracy only works effectively if its citizens are informed and rational. A majority in a democracy that wants to cut taxes, increase spending, cut spending and eliminate the deficit, is neither.
But what is the solution? I suggest, as does former Sen. Bob Graham, that the fault lies in the lack of civics education. Only if citizens are properly taught from childhood of the need to be informed, thoughtful and civil will they be so. Democracy depends upon it. The alternative is to let the nation go over the precipice with the resulting upheaval, if not revolution.
Ed Bradley, Lithia
I received an e-mail from Sen. George LeMieux that I thought was very enlightening. He blasted President Barack Obama for spending too much, called for rescinding $120 billion of spending and demanded that government programs be cut. "This mountain of debt is unsustainable and harms the future prosperity of our children," said Sen. LeMieux.
That was in one part of the e-mail. Elsewhere, Sen. LeMieux called for more spending on manned spaceflight, demanded that Florida get twice as much money for high-speed rail funding, and applauded sending a nuclear aircraft carrier to the Navy's Mayport base because, as he put it in his e-mail, "this will mean thousands of jobs for this region."
This is typical of the politicians who decry government spending while trying to grub up and take credit for as much government spending as they can. Republicans loudly cry "socialism" while demanding more government spending on their constituents.
The real tragedy is that because Sen. LeMieux is a placeholder for the GOP, he doesn't have to sweat re-election and could actually show some principle. Instead, he's joined the chorus of people decrying spending by the current president while lapping it up.
Tom Butler, Tallahassee
The way to treat terrorists
Regardless of what liberals in this country choose to call it, the war on terror exists. A declaration of war isn't necessary for that condition to be a fact. Regardless of how liberals feel about it, terrorists believe that they are at war with us. To ignore that fact is to compound the problems we face. Any attitude that doesn't make us safer is a waste of time and will ultimately cost lives.
The Christmas Day underwear bomber is a case in point. I hear many on the left now taking the tack that Obama's policies regarding the treatment of terrorists are bearing fruit. The underwear bomber is "spilling his guts" despite the fact that he was allowed to "lawyer up" after 50 minutes of initial interrogation.
This is foolishness. The fact that this man is "spilling his guts" is a matter of luck, not policy. A "criminal" interrogation does not lend itself to military solutions. Military solutions require actionable intelligence. Actionable intelligence saves lives. Gathering information to present in a court of law is a separate and unrelated task.
President Barack Obama should treat all terrorists as military combatants. Treating terrorists like bank robbers doesn't make anyone safer but the terrorists.
Jay Johnson, St. Petersburg
No easy answers on budget | Feb. 7, editorial
Where's the change?
I see that President Barack Obama has proposed a $700 billion-plus defense budget for 2011. This budget has been chock-full of cost overruns, fraud and shady deals for as long as I can remember. Yet it remains a sacred cow, increasing by 3 to 4 percent over the mindlessly inflated defense budgets of George W. Bush. This is not the change I voted for.
Obama ran as a progressive, but he has ignored the progressives who voted him in and governed center-right. This is bad politics and bad for the country, which resembles a giant plane with just one wing — the right wing.
Bret Raushenbush, Palm Harbor