Thursday, February 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Sunday's letters: Good education isn't expensive

When parents act, students succeed and Where poor is new normal Oct. 20, commentaries

Good education isn't expensive

Lyndsey Layton's column perpetuates the myth that students from low-income families are expected to underperform in school. Bill Maxwell's column right next to hers helps shatter that defeatist thinking.

Families don't have to make a lot of money to supplement a child's education at home. All they need is time.

Even if you don't have a college degree or didn't finish high school, you can still read to your child every day and take him to libraries and museums. You can correct mispronounced words. You can demand that he read more instead of watching hours of television.

If he's at the homework stage, you can check it every night and make sure it's done. You can stay in touch with teachers and monitor his progress. If there are problems, you can find out what you need to do on your end to help fix it. If he needs special attention, make sure he gets it. Again, none of these things require money.

Blaming poverty and funding for the so-called achievement gap is convenient but ineffective. As the headline of Maxwell's column noted, when parents act, students succeed.

Joseph H. Brown, Tampa

Path to improved teaching is clear Oct. 21, commentary

Changes to teacher training

As a classroom teacher in Florida for 25 years, I read with interest the scathing critique of teacher preparation programs by David Colburn and Brian Dassler. On the surface, their argument that teacher education programs are not doing a good job might make sense to some, but it made no sense to me, as my own experience differed so much from what they were describing, and certain considerations seemed to be missing. When I researched their main source, the National Center for Teacher Quality, I realized that the Times was providing a platform for the so-called education "reform" agenda that is all too familiar here in Florida.

NCTQ is an anti-teacher union organization that promotes the use of standardized tests to both certify and evaluate teachers. It rates states based on a list of policies they agree with. Interestingly, Massachusetts ranks lower than Florida on teacher preparation, yet it has the highest student test scores in the nation, which according to NCTQ is a valid indicator of how schools are doing.

While relying on NCTQ is reason enough to question Colburn and Dassler, it was their praise of Florida's teacher preparation that really astounded me. This is amazing since over the course of the last 15 years, the state has lowered its standards for teacher certification, not raised them. The same time Jeb Bush started his "school accountability" agenda, the Florida Department of Education eliminated the "education" part of the college degree requirement, allowing anyone with a four-year degree to complete an "alternative" certification plan.

Education majors spend a minimum of a full semester, after two years of upper-level college coursework in their majors, as student-teachers learning under the expertise and guidance of experienced teachers. This was an invaluable experience for me and all other teachers I know who did the same. Following graduation, new teachers had to complete a three-year probation period requiring more frequent supervision and mentoring by veteran teachers. So, Florida teachers used to receive, on average, five years of preparation. While some still choose this route, fast-track certification is now an option in Florida.

So perhaps it's not colleges that are failing to prepare teachers, but the politicians and "reformers."

Sarah Robinson, Safety Harbor

AARP-backed plans drop providers | Oct. 22

Don't impugn quality of care

Speaking on behalf of the physicians at Tampa Eye Clinic who have been terminated from participation in UnitedHealthcare's Medicare Advantage plan, I find it disconcerting that the provider feels it necessary to tarnish our reputation for excellence by citing that those doctors retained in the network "demonstrate the highest quality at the greatest value." This suggests that those physician providers dropped were either of substandard quality, inefficient or both.

We at the Tampa Eye Clinic have been providing ophthalmologic care of the highest quality for over 50 years. Our services encompass a broad range of ophthalmic specialties. Tens of thousands of Tampa Bay-area residents (and beyond) have received care that is of the highest skill and ethical standards. Moreover, since we are staffed to deal with such a breadth of opthalmic diseases, our care is highly efficient and conveniently localized. Other physician providers, equally dedicated and diligent, can make claims such as these, too.

While UnitedHealthcare has a right to taper its network of providers for financial reasons as it sees fit, it is unfortunate that its public relations message must cast a shadow on those physicians who have served its patients so well.

William D. Reynolds, M.D., Tampa Eye Clinic, Tampa

How Florida kept blacks from voting and Misjudging voter ID laws | Oct. 20

Threats to democracy

It was bad enough when those in power succeeded in keeping an entire race of people away from the ballot box. Now, many Republicans are doing their best to disenfranchise the voting rights of an entire opposing party.

"Jim Crow" has morphed into voter dilution and voter suppression. What's next? The dissolution of our "democracy"?

Stephen Feldman, Valrico


Thursday’s letters: Second Amendment is outdated

Second AmendmentCongress can act on firearmsThe Second Amendment is outdated, since it is predicated on the need for a "well regulated militia." Militias are defined as civilian soldiers trained under the command of competent military leadership. The...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18