Educators need more from us
Once again we are witnessing government actions that can only result in further relegating teaching to being the least-appreciated of occupations. The lack of financial reward has driven the best and brightest away from being public school teachers.
Plumbers do not need to spend time and money to acquire a college degree and yet they earn upwards of $75 per hour. The average pay for a schoolteacher is about $35 per hour. If you count hours spent working outside of the classroom, it is even less.
When public schools began in this nation, teachers were, for the most part, women and these women were told that they did not need money as they would soon marry and be dependent on their husbands. This novel idea was still in vogue in 1954.
Later, teachers were told that teaching was a sacred calling much like the ministry and that teachers should not seek monetary rewards as their reward was mostly the joy of shaping young minds. These were the positions of the mostly male-dominated school committees whose members were doctors, bankers and businessmen, who themselves steered their children away from becoming teachers.
Teachers now are drawn from the bottom 20 percent of the college graduating class, yet we still expect that our schools will be able to compete with those in other nations where teachers are honored and paid handsomely for their efforts.
We must decide if we really value our children or if we do not. If we do, then we must demand the best teachers and if we want the best we must be prepared to pay for it.
Remember, the "conservatives" who seek the destruction of the teachers unions send their children to private schools and have little regard for what happens to the kids of the lower classes — which soon will be the class of most Americans once the middle class has been dissolved.
The United States Chamber of Commerce, together with its international corporate members and their bought and paid for congressmen and senators, have destroyed all of the private sector unions. Let us not be deceived into killing off the last hope of the working class.
I am tired of hearing the wages earned by public employees being compared with wages paid in private industry. Instead of seeking to lower the public employees' wages, should we not be seeking to increase the wages of the private sector employees?
Richard Driscoll, Clearwater
Teachers aren't the greedy ones
I am in shock as I watch teachers become Public Enemy No. 1.
God help us when big corporations and Wall Street bankers — who, after decades of tax breaks and deregulation, outsourced jobs and ran our economy off a cliff — are defended and college-educated professionals who have dedicated themselves to educating our children are attacked as being greedy and selfish.
In Florida, luxury sky boxes at Buccaneers games, bottled water and numerous protected businesses continue to go tax exempt. The governor promises more tax cuts, while at the same time, teachers and other state workers are told they must sacrifice.
If the people support this, our future as a state is surely doomed.
Sarah Robinson, Safety Harbor
Consider cuts outside classroom
I am a past School Advisory Council member at two different schools in the county. There are plenty of areas to cut the budget before they touch a single teacher in the classroom. Here are some easier ways to cover the budget shortfall.
• Sell unused schools (Coachman Fundamental, etc). There are several closed schools barely being used and worth $7 million to $10 million each.
• Cut the administration building staff in Largo in half. The building has way too many people making $90,000 (worth two teachers each), and except for payroll and benefits staff, most would not be missed. There are hundreds of people in specialist positions that should be the first to go.
• Rent out excess space in administration or other unused buildings. The Pinellas County student head count has been dropping for four to five years now. The staff should also, and extra facilities/space should be sold or rented out like any normal business would do.
• Sell unused land.
These should be tried before one teacher in the classroom is touched. I hope the School Board members and superintendant have the guts to cut the fat. If enough people complained to them, maybe they would.
John Moran, Palm Harbor
Drug monitoring works already
Why do we need some new drug monitoring program? We already have one that works fine, has a long track record, all the drugstores have used it for years, and I've never heard any complaints about it or the cost to use it.
All of us who use pseudoephedrine for sinus complaints have to show our driver's license and sign to get it, and you can only get so much of it in a given time. It seems like this program could be easily and inexpensively expanded to keep track of OxyContin and oxycodone sales.
If so, why would Gov. Rick Scott or anyone else (other than Optimum Technology or Health Info Designs, which want to sell us their systems) object? Why do we never hear anything about using the system we already have? If it ain't broke …
Arnold Churchill, Clearwater
Governor caught in a contradiction
So the new guy in the governor's mansion — whose former company defrauded taxpayers out of billions of dollars — killed the high-speed rail project because of potential cost overruns and the possibility that taxpayers might someday be "on the hook" for it.
How is the $77 million for port dredging in Miami any different? We taxpayers are certainly "on the hook" for that, and what guarantees do we have that there won't be cost overruns for that project too?
It would be nice if the taxpayers could get an answer, but he'd probably just take the fifth — again.
Bob Lasher, Clearwater
Re: Pierogi Man vs. Statue of Liberty | letter, March 9
Let's bring the Pierogi man back
Yes, someone is dressed up like the Statue of Liberty and waving to cars on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, and city code enforcement is not stopping it. Bring the Pierogi Man back. And how about the McDonald's clown and Chick-fil-A chicken? I'm sure a few more businesses could supply some farm animals or cartoon characters. Gulf-to-Bay could become a national attraction. And while the new visitors are here, they may discover our white sandy beaches.
Bob Gardeski, Clearwater