An age-old query: what we stand for | Dec. 19, Blumner column
Leftist solutions aren't only ones
As usual, Robyn Blumner eloquently and objectively pens a serious societal problem in her Dec. 19 column: namely, the plight of aging Americans facing the very real threat of workplace discrimination.
But also as usual, she ruins such awareness with sweeping generalizations — "only workers … in unions or who are protected by tenure or a civil service-type system … enjoy job security" — as if unionized workers never faced the closing of a factory or state workers never saw a budget shortfall that left them jobless.
Uncertainty exists in every field, and to assume that leftist solutions are the only viable ones isn't credible. As a 32-year-old, I want to personally assist those who have helped build this great nation, and I do it every time I give my money to my local church. A portion of the general fund is aimed directly at addressing the problem Blumner cites. But I do it of my own free will; no courts, no judges, no laws.
J.C. Ford, New Port Richey
For a better education | Dec. 20, letter
Parents are the key
A letter writer says private schools do a better job. Really? Look at it with an open mind: Who attends private schools? Typically children of parents who are very involved with their child's education. Most of these students would do well regardless of the school they attend.
My two stepchildren went to prestigious private schools; my daughter attended public schools from K-12. My stepchildren struggled academically and are struggling as adults in the employment world. Their mother, the primary caretaker, was not actively involved in their education. My daughter received an excellent education, graduated with honors from USF and is now gainfully employed. What was the main difference? The home environment and parental participation in education.
Public schools are taking the fall for those parents who are not doing their job.
Kathy Freriks, Tampa
Scott's education transition team
Reform, don't destroy
I read Rick Scott's education panel list with dismay and disbelief since there is not one recently retired or currently employed teacher or American Federation of Teachers/National Education Association member included. His list is a diaphanous attempt to deconstruct and destroy both teachers unions and public education, which Thomas Jefferson passionately believed was the foundation of a free nation. His list of education business CEOs, business CEOs and superintendents reflects people with a vested anti-public education slant.
If politicians truly want to reform public education, they should read the research on Finland's public education. That country's reforms were not aimed at dismantling public education but at making the teaching profession a revered, integral part of the country's future. Standards for teacher training were changed to reflect more rigorous content-area demands. Teachers are consulted about what works in the classroom. Students are not tested using high-stakes exams created and bought from a test mill. And teachers are not blamed for students' failures. Finland used its research and applied it to public education, shooting Finland's public school students to the top of the academically excellent list in world education in less than a decade.
Now is not the time to dismantle teachers unions or deconstruct public education. Now is the time to re-evaluate successful public education models by bipartisan, professional educators who only want public education to be the keystone of a free and glorious nation.
Shirley M. Gilbert, Land O'Lakes
As a Muslim, I say: Enough violence, killing Dec. 19, letter
Teachings too often ignored
The Muslim letter writer stated her Islamic beliefs beautifully. She said that in the Koran it is written that the killing of one life is like killing all of humanity. Every life is precious; every person matters. Everyone deserves happiness.
I am a Christian, and growing up I was taught the love of Jesus and how he was our teacher. He said to love one another and care for one another. It's a shame other Muslims and Christians ignore these teachings.
Cynthia Boadway, St. Petersburg
Campaign not an illusion | Dec. 19, letter
Don't force religion
The letter writer's comments about the "war" on Catholicism neglect the fact that the United States was built on a desire to be free from religious government.
Frankly, I am saddened but not shocked that there are still those who don't understand that my taxes should not be used to pay for religious displays in public places. Why should any student who is not Christian be forced or intimidated to fall to his knees to pray before a sporting event in a public school?
No one can deny your right to pray, anywhere at any time. Just don't force your religion on me or anyone else.
Ronald Medvin, Tampa
Bieber magic | Dec. 20
Hardly of top importance
Was it just a really slow news day, or was "Bieber magic" the most important thing happening in the world? One has to wonder what has happened to news reporting and editing at the Times.
When the largest headline above the fold on the front page is a story about a teenage singer, our daily newspaper of record has sunk to a new low.
The concert story belongs in a different part of the newspaper — arts and entertainment or even the local section, perhaps — but not on Page One, and not as the largest headline.
Gary Gibbons, Tampa
Somewhere near you, there's a hungry family | Dec. 21, commentary
The giving season
Connie Schultz's opinion piece is so true. Here at home hunger might be your next-door neighbor. The economy has taken a toll on many hard-working people who never thought they would have their hand out for assistance. I see this every day at Trinity Cafe, a free restaurant for the hungry and homeless in downtown Tampa.
Like other charities, we depend on the generosity of donations to operate. The economy has adversely affected every organization that helps the needy, including ours. In nine years we have provided meals to more than 669,000 hungry people; the need is staggering. Often we must turn people away.
This is the giving season. Generosity abounds among families and friends. More often than not, many charitable organizations have been holding their breath waiting for gifts to arrive. How many clients have been met with closed doors when looking for a place to get a free meal when their own cupboards are empty? More than you might think.
I concur with Schultz when she said "please ask your friends and loved ones to skip your present and, instead, give the gift of a meal in your name." As program director of Trinity Cafe, I can assure you that every donation, no matter what the amount, will help ensure that one less person will go to bed hungry tonight.
Cindy Davis, Tampa