The Blame the Teacher Syndrome | Oct. 17
System needs big improvements
Bill Maxwell's column about teacher accountability made some excellent points. The clearest message conveyed was that there are no simple solutions to the problems faced by public education. One-size-fits-all solutions, be they any one of the examples he cited, clearly are not the answer.
The desire to hold teachers accountable for their work is a good one. Any veteran teacher has seen his or her share of barely competent teachers and administrators. The system needs major improvements in how it weeds out incompetents. Continuing to employ dysfunctional people as teachers and administrators is as big a problem as lack of interest in education by students and their families.
Denying opportunities to qualified, motivated individuals at the expense of protecting obviously bad employees from financial harm borders on malpractice.
The idea that teachers are responsible for things totally out of their control is ludicrous.
So far, in 22 years of employment with the public school system, I have only been disappointed. Now it looks like President Barack Obama is going to disappoint me as well on education reform.
Stephen Hinkley, Clearwater
Putting down the chalk
Well, there's finally a name for the feeling that I have after 35 years of teaching mathematics in three different states and at three different levels. Thank you, Mr. Maxwell. "Blame the Teacher Syndrome" was instrumental in my decision to put down the chalk and retire.
All "roads to the cure" for whatever is ailing public education seem to lead back to the classroom teacher. I tired of undisciplined students, unsupportive parents and unyielding administrators.
Suzanne S. Austin-Hill, Ruskin
Times Festival of Reading
A lack of diversity
Surely a festival of reading should not consist of 99 percent white and mostly male writers. In more than 15 years of bookselling, I know, in a state as diverse as Florida, even a minimal attempt to look beyond oneself would result in a broader selection.
Timothy Shea, Tampa
The Fed is printing money and that's bad Oct. 17
Rodney Johnson's article in Sunday's Perspective concerning the Federal Reserve was excellent. Indeed, the Fed's printing of money out of thin air dilutes and devalues the U.S. currency.
An important point that should be emphasized is that the printing also increases the national debt since it is sold to the Treasury in exchange for interest-bearing Treasury bonds.
Gregory Keuroghlian, Dunedin
Prisons and a permanent underclass Oct. 17
Prison model not working
On the heels of reports that African-American males in the area are graduating from high school at a far lower rate than other students, the Times tied things together by running this Slate article.
How can a supposedly progressive society tolerate such a drain on its resources, both human and financial, that results from more than 35 percent of blacks who fail to graduate being incarcerated?
Many citizens smugly fall back on the argument that too many blacks are being raised in single-family homes. Well, that vicious cycle is inevitable if the prison system continues to be used to warehouse this growing segment of the population. Further, our nation's prisons, with a few notable exceptions, focus on punishment over rehabilitation.
For America to prosper, the prison for-profit model must be phased out in favor of a system that separates true threats to society from individuals that have committed missteps but still have a sincere desire to contribute to their communities.
Michael Henry, Bradenton
All alone in the middle | Oct. 17
Run as an independent
Sen. Susan Collins prides herself as being a moderate and willing to reach across the aisle.
If she wishes to foster an atmosphere of compromise, she would do well to run as an independent when her term of office expires. Her colleagues in the neighboring New England states of Vermont and Connecticut exercised their self-reliant, individualistic mind-set by achieving victory as independents.
Earl A. Myers Jr., Tampa
GOP has early voting lead | Oct. 22
Early voting is an affront
Friday's front-page story about where the early voting stands is an affront to my rights as an American citizen. Publishing such results, however justified, seems to be meant to influence the overall election. I have never been a fan of early voting for this very reason.
It used to be the American way to vote on Election Day in November, period. The results were slow in coming but I always had the feeling that they were accurate. Now that the early voting process is in place, I see too many possible ways to influence the outcomes, mess with the results and change public opinion prior to the "real" Election Day voting.
Bruce Johnson, New Port Richey
When America feared Catholics | Oct. 13
Sharon Davies attempted to compare the past persecution of Catholics in this country during the 1920s to America's attitude toward Muslims at present. I fail to agree with her analogy.
There have been no signs announcing "Muslims need not apply," no discrimination against Muslim children in our schools, no government intrusions or violations of the sanctity of Muslim mosques and no sanctioned discrimination toward Muslims in the workplace. Nor should there be.
Religious and all bigotry is abhorrent to all fair and clear-thinking people.
Walter E. Wiedemann, Spring Hill