Parents should be asked questions, too | March 25, Bill Maxwell column
Parents are child's first teachers
Was Bill Maxwell sitting at the breakfast table when my husband and I discussed the responsibility parents must take to ensure their children are properly educated? Perhaps he was outside the window? Parents are their children's first and continuing teachers throughout life.
The Pinellas County school system provides formal education. Outside of that, how about family field trips, reading to your children and encouraging lifelong learning? Parents can volunteer at school and at after-school activities.
We shared family dinners. The tasks of setting the table, a prayer before meals, discussing the news of the day, sharing funny stories, admiring the positive accomplishments of other friends — all this was part of the educational process. These steps develop responsible adults and good citizens. Thank you, Bill, for expressing our thoughts so succinctly.
Norene Dagly, St. Petersburg
Parents should be asked questions, too March 25, Bill Maxwell column
Track parental involvement
This column suggests an excellent model for the "parental trigger" law. The law would remain the same: If a vote of parents equal to a majority of the number of students in the school voted for it, the school would be shut down in favor of a charter school. However, in order to be eligible to vote, the parents must objectively demonstrate parental involvement.
The criteria would be based on scientific studies, but could include such things as seeing to non-excused attendance, ensuring that homework is turned in, attending parent-teacher conferences, attending PTA meetings and the like.
This would cure the problem of charter school operatives getting uninvolved parents to vote. They would first have to get the parents involved in order for them to vote.
Ed Bradley, Lithia
Robyn Blumner column
A job well done
When I receive my Sunday Tampa Bay Times, I turn to the Perspective section and Robyn Blumner. Her articles of information, hope and worry are needed in this period of confusion and hatred. I thank her for her courage.
Her recent articles have produced name-calling responses from those who would put the pope in charge of morals, Wall Street in charge of money, Republicans in charge of regulations, and a gun in every pocket. She must be doing a fine job.
Reese Hodges, Weeki Wachee
Weigh more, pay more: Could the idea fly? March 24
Idea already in use
The idea of weighing passengers and their luggage has been implemented for well over 40 years in other parts of the world. For example, if you fly from Tortola, British Virgin Islands, to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, you and your luggage are weighed in order not to overload the small plane.
The metabolic argument is spurious simply because the law of physics doesn't care what your metabolism is. When you step on the scale, whether it's you or your luggage, the physical effort to get you off the ground is proportionate to your total weight. Weighing passengers and their luggage might even encourage folks to lose weight and get healthier in the process.
Peter Sontag, Clearwater
The difference between health care, broccoli March 29, commentary
Snark is uncalled for
In the arguments about what the government can force you to buy, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia snarkily asked, "What's the difference between broccoli and health insurance?" and stumped the solicitor general.
The answer is simple. If people don't buy broccoli, the price goes down. If people don't buy health insurance, the price goes up. And it continues to go up until it is so high that many people can't afford it any longer. It's disconcerting when someone who holds the fate of such an important issue as health insurance regards the key provision so flippantly. We can all get by without broccoli, but sooner or later we are all going to need health benefits.
Rick France, Tampa
A mandate alternative
I think the conservative justices are way off base. But perhaps the mandate should have been framed this way. You have a choice of carrying health insurance or posting a $50,000 bond dedicated to your future health care costs. If you remain healthy and never tap the bond, the money can go to your heirs and/or cover your funeral costs. This way you would not be forced to buy insurance, but you would be responsible for your own health care costs to some degree.
Kenneth Hinnenkamp, Safety Harbor
Pull plug on nuclear project | March 27, editorial
Nuclear risks too great
I applaud the Tampa Bay Times for speaking out on the proposed Levy County nuclear power plant issues through its excellent, informative articles by staff writers the past few months, culminating in a bold editorial Tuesday.
From a medical perspective alone, nuclear power and the resulting radiation and radioactive waste creates an unacceptable risk to public health and to the health and safety of future generations.
The Chernobyl catastrophe found a large increase in thyroid cancers in children and adolescents starting four years after that meltdown, and we've yet to see the cancers and genetic mutations that will result from the disaster at Fukushima.
Can we promise our children a better future? Maybe, but only if we get serious today about clean and safe alternative energy, and stop building nuclear power plants.
Lynn Ringenberg, M.D., Tampa