Teacher pay bill is badly flawed
I have taught dropout prevention/alternative education students at the high school level for the past 30 years in Pasco County and hold a master's degree. I have been teacher of the year three times and nominated several more at the two schools in Pasco. I have taught at Schwettman Education Center in New Port Richey since the school opened 17 years ago. At that time, Gov. Lawton Chiles visited our school twice to see the difference we were making with our students' lives. We also have had several school board members from other counties in Florida visit to see how they could model our school.
Gov. Charlie Crist mentioned that judging teachers on the basis of learning gains may not be fair for those teachers who work with special needs students. I agree and would like to point out that alternative education students often have their own special needs/situations that we as teachers cannot control.
We are sent students from regular schools throughout the school year for a variety of disciplinary reasons. In the past, we even had students enroll at our school during FCAT week and were held responsible for their scores. To base 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation and raise on a student's learning gains would not be fair to the teachers, who like me, are required to take students at any time during the school year and have no say in what they may have or have not learned from their sending school/teacher. We often get students with only a month or two of school left and then have to give them an end-of-course exam. This bill would not be fair to the teacher giving the exam.
Having a teacher judged by a parent or even the principal to determine part of the salary is very subjective and is rife with problems. That would be like basing our legislators' salary on their popularity with their constituents, or Florida's ranking among the other states.
I have seen students who have had elementary reading and math skills sitting in high school classes. We work with those students as best we can and try to bring them up to grade level or to the best of their abilities. Other students have come to us from a rough or broken home life and may have given up on education, but we still try to give the student the benefit of caring teachers and staff.
I teach six periods each day and have three preps of science — biology, integrated science, and marine science — but have had students sent to me that needed environmental science, honors biology, AP anatomy and physiology and other science courses, all of which I worked into my classes. Alternative teachers do not have control as to the students who come to their classes, the courses that they were taking or the learning level of the students.
This is not a well thought-out bill and has had no input from those who are affected the most: the teachers.
Doug VanEtten, New Port Richey
Hold the teachers accountable
Instead of everyone complaining, whining, blaming and finger-pointing, how about trying individual accountability for a change? If each person decided to hold himself or herself to the highest moral code possible, striving for excellence in every task, the foolishness of the teachers' protests would disappear.
They are setting a bad example by their bad behavior. Shame on them. Where else can someone be assured a job with benefits, a summer vacation, holidays off, pension, no weekends and not have it based on performance? Once tenured, a teacher is secure for life.
Good, bad and ugly. Students and parents are stuck with all of them. It's about time we change the way our educational system works. No one should be entitled to a position by virtue of tenure.
Eileen Fisher, Elfers
Raze more woods for houses? Why?
I couldn't believe the plan the County Commission has for the "last blank piece of paper in west Pasco." Ann Hildebrand wants a walkable city and even a pedestrian bridge over Little Road. She also wants a core commercial village area and to create a sense of place on that stretch of Little Road between Plathe and Decubellis roads. She thinks this will be a cool showcase.
If Commissioner Hildebrand wants a sense of place, she should walk that stretch of road or ride a bicycle and peer into the woods. It's mostly pine and palm; the floor is a carpet of pine needles. It's eerily quiet and calm. If she travels south on Little Road for a few miles, there's another cool showcase called Trinity Town Center. This project has been languishing for two years while everybody sues everybody.
Over in central Pasco is the biggest debacle of all, Connerton. There are 15,000 foreclosed residences in Pasco County, 50,000 in the bay area, and the commission proposes 4,300 more. I can't believe we pay commissioners to plan destruction of woodland. I would prefer that they worked on the budget and fire department problems.
Thomas Karcher, New Port Richey
Forget all the talk — just let Tiger play | April 10 column
Let's butt out of Tiger's private life
Way to go Barbara Fredricksen. I have been saying the exact same thing since all this Tiger stuff started.
What business is it of ours what Tiger Woods does in his private life? For that matter, who cares what any sports star does in his private life? Why do people need to know?
Would you like your private life under a microscope for the public to comment on? Of course not. I don't understand why he's been so vilified. He hurt no one but himself and his family. He's probably the greatest golfer ever and that's all we should be concerned with.
Barbara Stierle, Spring Hill