A smart way to fix schools | June 22
Change schools from top down
The method of procuring potential college "students into teaching with a mean SAT, ACT or GRE scores in the top third of the national range" could "reboot" teaching into the professional category with doctors and lawyers. With this "reverse engineering," Amanda Ripley makes the assumption that if we can fix the teachers, then all will be right with education. But instead the "reverse engineering" needs to occur from the top down, not from the bottom up.
We need legislators, educational pundits, superintendents and principals placed in their positions of responsibility from the top third of the national range. This would eliminate some of the harmful and unfunded mandates as well as the jump-on-the-bandwagon research-based decisions that teachers are tasked to do. Then teachers could resume and reclaim their "prestige" by being the professionals they were trained to be.
Sharon Pelchat, New Port Richey
World War I
Lessons from history
In the summer of 1914, all of the major capitals in Europe were seized with war fever. It took only a spark to ignite the threat. A bizarre incident in the Balkans provided that spark. Military alliances, rampant nationalism and the arrogance and stupidity of most European leaders provided the added fuel that turned that incident into World War I.
One hundred years ago, on June 28, 1914, a chauffeur made a wrong turn on the streets of Sarajevo in Bosnia. His passengers were the heir apparent to the throne of the Austria-Hungary Empire and his wife. In correcting his mistake, the driver turned the car directly in front of a Serbian assassin who fired the shots that killed the archduke and his wife. The Austrian government in Vienna overreacted to this tragic incident and declared war on Serbia.
And then the dominoes fell. Serbia's alliance with Russia obligated that country to declare war on Austria-Hungary. Germany now entered the picture and fulfilled its commitment to Austria by declaring war on Russia. And so it went with France and England declaring war on Germany. In a month, Europe went from a fragile peace to a war that would consume 10 million lives, including 100,000 Americans later in the conflict.
The war that was fought "to make the world safe for democracy" ended four years later with a treaty that destroyed the German economy and created a vacuum that allowed a twisted creature like Adolf Hitler to come to power. The war that ended in 1918 resumed in 1939, this time with the loss of 60 million human beings.
"Those who fail to learn the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat them." And the beat goes on in 2014.
Lloyd Watson, Palm Harbor
She created the Iraq of today | June 22
Bell didn't get her due
I enjoyed reading about Gertrude Bell in the Sunday edition. I read The Queen of the Desert many years ago. I feel strongly that the British government failed to acknowledge how she had shaped the region and paved the way for the British to install King Faisal. Lawrence of Arabia will always be remembered for his role helping to unite the Arabs, but dear Gertrude was mainly forgotten for her great achievements in Iraq. I believe she was a extraordinary woman of her time and, because she was a woman, she did not get the fame and credit she so richly deserved.
Anne Skovron, Tampa
Lies, damn lies and Dick Cheney June 22, Daniel Ruth column
Daniel Ruth has it right. Winston Churchill said in 1940 of the brave airmen fighting the Battle of Britain, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." For Dick Cheney to snarl out a hateful, ignorant paraphrase of this honorable statement by a man so much more worthy than he shows how spiteful he is. The blood of thousands of Americans, also far better than him, and untold tens of thousands of Iraqis, is on his hands.
Lee Martin, Tampa
A house divided | June 22
The center goes missing
This was an excellent article on the state of our political spectrum. Along with a story in the Wall Street Journal this past week by Randy Yelp, it clearly puts the responsibility (blame) on us the voters. One of his statistics shows only 39 percent of "middle of the road" voters always vote, while an average of 60 percent of the "wingers" vote.
John Teti, Tampa
Perspective | June 22
Enjoyable Sunday reading
Last week's Perspective section had many good pieces. I particularly enjoyed the "House divided" article and Susan Taylor Martin's story on how the mess we now know as Iraq came to be.
My reason for writing, though, is to vigorously applaud the triple assault on Dick Cheney's latest mind-boggling rant. Daniel Ruth hit the nail on the head (numerous times), Andy Borowitz added the icing on the cake, and Jim Morin's cartoon was the perfect cherry to top it all off.
Jim Becker, Lutz
Pasco school removes book | June 25
A reading list with teeth
After reading the article about offensive summer reading suggestions for students of Pasco County, it reminded me of why a public education is unchallenging and void of structure. It is great that the school board is encouraging reading, but let's get real. Ninety percent of public school kids are not picking up these books during the two-month break .
If you want to give this reading teeth, assign maybe two classics to be read — The Catcher in the Rye, The Old Man and the Sea, Lord of the Flies, etc. When the youngsters return from summer break they have to take a test about the books they were assigned or chose.
You know the FCAT and Common Core crowd would not promote this. This would make kids work to move forward, advance their personal intellect and open some to worlds never imagined.
Of course this will never happen, so thank goodness for private, religious and charter schools who advance the next generations with a purpose.
Jeff Bender, Tampa