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Sunday's letters: 'School to Work' plans need safeguards

The costs of college obsession | Feb. 20, Bill Maxwell column

'School to Work' plans need safeguards

Bill Maxwell wrote about the folly of a college education for everyone. I wholeheartedly agree with his premise. No doubt millions of dollars and hours are wasted by college students who do not belong there. However, caution must be urged in implementing the solution he suggests, i.e., tracking students at middle school age into alternative occupational goals.

When I was a candidate for state representative in the '90s, someone suggested I look into the "School to Work" program. On inquiry, no one acknowledged its existence. Then it was suggested that I look into Missouri's "Roadway to Success" program. "Sure, we have that," I was told. In the second paragraph of the first page, the words "School to Work" appeared.

This program would have forced middle school students into education tracks without an opportunity to escape. Further, it would have assigned quotas for various employment disciplines.

In Maxwell's article, many of the terms used in the "Roadway to Success" appear. While his suggestion has merit — in guiding students toward successful careers — government mandates should always be viewed as possibly overreaching.

We must watch the suggested approach carefully. Government-mandated education tracking and employment placing is not an appropriate approach for a democratic society.

Robert E. Hagaman, Homosassa

The costs of college obsession | Feb. 20, Bill Maxwell column

Vocational path

As someone who has taught for 32 years in a community college (physics for both science and nonscience majors), I applaud Bill Maxwell's take on the national obsession that all public school students take an academic route that leads to a college education.

Some benefit from an academically rich curriculum, but too many don't. Is it any wonder that those who don't simply drop out? Better instead that our schools provide vocational pathways to students without an academic bent. The outcome would be more graduates on paths to financial success, and more importantly, more citizens with the dignity that comes with achieving that success.

Paul G. Hewitt, St. Petersburg

A better solution

Thank you, Bill Maxwell. You have reminded everyone what Doug Jamerson was saying 15 years ago and which every schoolteacher understands. The rest of the civilized world acknowledges that students are not all alike and that not all of them are college-bound, yet here in America we presume that every student is bound for higher education, even though statistics clearly show otherwise.

In the meantime, we are producing graduates with no marketable skills. We are doing these students an enormous disservice, one that could be corrected with the proposals of the Harvard study.

The upper-level school administrators and politicians rarely if ever get into the trenches with the teachers to see the reality of this situation. If they did, we might move more quickly toward intelligent solutions.

Scott R. Hopkins, Brandon

On EPA water rules, an all-new nullification | Feb. 20

Keep eye on polluters

Thanks to Diane Roberts for shining light on the ongoing pollution of Florida's waters and the state government's attempts to block federal regulations to clean them up.

I'd welcome a closer look at Mosaic, the "world's leading producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate," with its 11 facilities in Florida, most of which produce phosphates for fertilizers. Thanks to such phosphates, agriculture fertilizer runoffs in Florida's waters — and those coming down the Mississippi River to befoul the Gulf of Mexico — threaten the gulf waters so treasured by our residents and tourists as well as our drinking water.

So the next time you catch a warm and fuzzy Mosaic TV ad touting what a wonderful service it provides, please remember the hazardous, nutrient-filled waterways and Red Tide-closed beaches courtesy of ineffective regulations.

I am not optimistic that clean water will be a priority of our current state agriculture commissioner, Adam Putnam, who formerly represented in Congress areas that are prime phosphate producers.

Rick Carson, St. Petersburg

Police officer's killing

Help for children

I was touched by Mayor Bill Foster's comment that we need to provide more help for children. It brought back to mind my sophomore year at Jefferson High School in Tampa back in 1950. My history teacher, Xavier Francis Cannella, spoke on the subject of juvenile delinquency. He said if we built community centers every 10 or so square blocks to provide help in studies, sports and more, we could eliminate a prison for every one.

That sounded so relevant back then, and now. Think of all the lives and money that could be saved.

Anita Knight, St. Petersburg

Day of thanks

With the heart-rending deaths of three St. Petersburg and two Tampa police officers recently, I recommend that we officially designate a day of thanks to our police officers.

Mayors of both cities could officially declare a specific day. The Tampa Bay area should lead the way to what should become a national day of thanks.

Richard Simpson, St. Petersburg

Enough coverage of accused

Another tragedy in St. Petersburg takes the life of one our brave police officers. Another mindless action by a punk. And, as if on cue, the newspapers start telling us all about the accused killer. He is a good boy. Quiet and respectful. Has caring parents. Only two arrests, and they were nonviolent crimes. A family who supported him, but he lives in an environment of poverty and crime.

Please stop telling us about a loser who thought he was cool and "bad." No one forced him to "run" with the "wrong crowd." He has at least average intelligence and we believe he knows right from wrong, and he chose wrong.

It is a shame that a portion of our society continues to demonstrate that they have not yet attained any understanding of how to live in a civilized society.

Robert Padgett, Clearwater

Pictures inappropriate

Stop it. For two days in a row the Times printed a huge color photo of an accused killer and a small picture of the victim. Don't you realize that your paper is actually glorifying this person? The police caught him and he is in custody, so his picture is not critical content for the story. As far as I'm concerned, his picture should not be in the paper until he is convicted.

Midge Silk, St. Petersburg

Wrong focus

The Times should be embarrassed by its reporting of the cold-blooded murder of Officer David Crawford.

Portraying the accused killer as a 16-year-old who "loves football and family," who is "quiet, polite and obedient" and who "struggled with grades" is disgraceful.

Printing huge photos of "Lil' Nick" on the front page on two consecutive days, while Officer Crawford's photos were small, is beyond comprehension.

Jack Keefe, St. Petersburg

What support?

I was amazed to read that Nicholas Lindsey has "a strong support system." What kind of support system allows a teenager to miss 42 days of school by February?

Marilyn Renner, Dunedin

Sunday's letters: 'School to Work' plans need safeguards 02/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 26, 2011 7:49pm]
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