Saturday, March 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Sunday's letters: There's value in online courses

Best education is face to face | March 17, Bill Maxwell column

There's value in online courses

I hope Bill Maxwell considers softening his stance against massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as they provide opportunities and make a good fit for many people.

I didn't begin my college education until I was over 30 years old, and I worked full time throughout my entire college career. I received my associate of arts degree from St. Petersburg College almost completely online. Without having the flexibility of online classes this would not have been possible. And the traditional classes I did attend while at SPC were highly distracting at best because they were essentially filled with 20-something high school students.

Next I went to Eckerd College, where I received my bachelor's degree in human development. I attended the Program for Experienced Learners and this was a wonderful experience that I continue to highly recommend to anyone who asks about my education. I feel that I was fortunate to have such a high-quality educational institution like Eckerd so close to where I live, but many students, either young or older, don't have such an excellent opportunity. To these students, MOOCs may be the only access to higher education available.

I then went on to receive my master's degree from an accredited online university. At that time, I continued to work full time and was faced with a family health crisis that would not have allowed me to continue my education in a traditional university setting.

I feel fortunate to have had both traditional classroom settings and online classes available to me to achieve my academic goals. The online learning environment offers solutions to barriers that many people face while attempting to fulfill their wishes, hopes and dreams of achieving a higher education.

M.A. Russell, South Pasadena

Best education is face to face March 17, Bill Maxwell column

Many modes of learning

Bill Maxwell and Donald Eastman assert that the "best education is face to face" and dismiss online learning and MOOCs (as if they were the same), inferring they are "cheap" financially and of lower quality and thus more suitable for adult learning.

Is that why Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other elite colleges, to be joined by Yale this fall, offer MOOC courses? Recently Duke, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and others announced they will offer a program called Semester Online.

The main point, neglected by Maxwell, is that we are going through an important period at all levels of education when educators and cognitive professionals are focusing on the variety of ways that we learn, as children and adults. There is no one "best" way, but ways of learning. Online learning, blended courses, MOOCs, etc., are just a few of the various learning modes we now have at our disposal. It is way too early and unhelpful to take sides.

Merle F. Allshouse, St. Petersburg

The wages of capitalism March 17, Robyn Blumner column

Working for low wages

I was pleasantly surprised by Robyn Blumner's column that exposes the American Legislative Exchange Council for their fight to keep wages low for the working class. Most media outlets will not critique ALEC because they are afraid of their advertising dollars being pulled from the many companies that belong to ALEC.

Please inform yourself by researching ALEC online, because you will not get the truth about this organization from most of the so-called liberal (corporate-owned) media.

Scott McKown, Palm Harbor

Pension change hurts Floridians March 21, letter

Pension problems

A major argument used against Will Weatherford's plan to replace Florida's current fixed pension plan with a 401(k) program is to point to what happened to the stock market in 2008. Those who use that reason need to look at the stock market today.

They also need to look at most of the workers in the private sector, who have a 401(k) plan or nothing. Why should my tax dollars go to pay for a pension plan better than I have?

Also they need to look at the huge unfunded pension liability crisis this country is facing, which is one of the root causes of why American cities are declaring bankruptcy.

H. Lockett, Tampa

Health reform brings better care, lower cost March 21, commentary

Insidious fraud

It is heartening to know that, at last, big-dollar cases of Medicare fraud are being uncovered and prosecuted.

But there is a far more insidious type of fraud that goes unnoticed. It's found in the form of doctors, unknown to or unapproved by the patient or patient's family, "visiting" in the hospital — showing up bedside, asking a few questions to uncover already known information, then billing Medicare for the visit.

This happened on numerous occasions to both my elderly mother and father; I've heard similar stories from residents of my mother's nursing facility.

Multiply this by millions and you have tens of millions of dollars of waste about which Medicare claims it can do nothing.

Terri Benincasa, Palm Harbor

Iraq war anniversary | March 17, Perspective

Losses run deep

Sadly, no one is being held accountable for this unnecessary war and waste of money. The American taxpayer again is ripped off by power-hungry politicians and their defense contractor friends with big bucks to buy votes. You can't buy friendship in the Middle East.

Judy Wooden, Dunedin

Caught with their hands in the cookie jar again | March 20, Lucy Morgan column

Tallahassee temptations

How ironic for Will Weatherford that he finds taking health care money from the federal government as an attempt at a "buyoff" but he sees nothing wrong in taking rides on airplanes owned by lobbyist.

It did not take long for him to succumb to the Tallahassee two-step. I had such high hopes for him. I guess it was too much to expect that the new guys would be a change for good.

Ronald Matte, Land O' Lakes


Monday’s letters: Driverless cars on perilous roads

Driverless cautions | March 23, commentaryDriverless carson perilous roadsHaving watched the video of the tragedy in Tempe, Ariz., I believe the police are correct. This accident could not have been avoided as the pedestrian stepped out of the sh...
Published: 03/23/18

Friday’s letters: Think through assault weapons ban

Gun controlThink through assault rifle banI recently emailed a Florida state representative who had pledged, among other things, to ban assault rifles in the state. I asked him if he would ban the sale and transfer of these guns or ultimately make th...
Published: 03/22/18

Saturday’s letters: Tax guns to pay for security

Million-dollar questions | March 21Tax firearms to pay for securitySo public officials are wondering where they’ll get the money for stationing an armed guard in every school. How about heavily taxing every gun? It’s the proliferation of the weap...
Published: 03/21/18
Updated: 03/23/18

Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Published: 03/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18