School demand up for fundamentals | Feb. 6, story
All our schools should be 'fundamental'
On the Pinellas County Schools Web page, fundamental schools are characterized as having a structured environment, a back-to-basics approach, parent-teacher-student commitment to education, a focus on student responsibility and self-discipline, daily homework, a dress code exceeding that of other schools and required attendance at conferences and monthly parent meetings.
Am I the only one who feels this is what should be expected of any school in the district? Why are these standards enforced in a fundamental school and not in my own child's high school or elementary school?
As a taxpayer, I feel that I have the right to expect these standards at any given school in the district. I expect that the environment at school will be structured because that is how children develop self-discipline, learn how to complete tasks and how to constructively control themselves and their environment. That is how teachers maintain consistency in expectations.
I expect that my child will come out of the public school system strong in the basic building blocks of education.
I expect that my child's teacher will be just as committed to his education as I am and that commitment will be conveyed to my child, just as I convey my commitment to my child.
I expect that there will be a focus on my child's responsibility and self-discipline in the classroom, and that the consequences for lack of responsibility will be strictly enforced.
As for the required attendance at conferences and monthly parent meetings, it would go a long way toward changing students' apathetic attitude toward education if parents were required to set the example and show they are invested in their child's education by attending meetings regarding their own children.
Why are we so tolerant of the behavior occurring in so many public schools today? Too much nonsense is tolerated. Here's a novel idea: Let's label all public schools "fundamental." It's what we, as taxpayers, should expect, even demand!
Lori Emery, Belleair
Other schools can be put at a disadvantage
As a parent I am all for fundamental schools because I know my daughter will not be subjected to many of the issues normally facing middle school girls.
But as an educator I see that fundamental schools could be a source of the problems faced by our other public schools. All schools should require and receive the involvement and support of the students' families. All schools should have high expectations for behavior and should have set consequences for those who choose not to live up to those guidelines.
What happens when a student gets removed from a fundamental program is that he or she gets placed in a different, "regular" school. The regular schools are frowned upon by many parents and get a bad rap because we can't pick and choose the best behaved students with the most involved parents. We teach all students regardless of their behavior choices.
We work very hard to provide a safe, thriving learning environment for our students, but many times have little to no connection with many of the families whose children sit in our classrooms each day. They cannot come to school meetings or conferences due to transportation or financial constraints. So, we do the best we can each and every day.
Removing the best and brightest and putting them in fundamental schools does not help the other schools in their quest for greatness.
Kelly McGee, St. Petersburg
Discipline's role is fundamental Feb. 8, editorial
Isolate the unruly
The tail is wagging the dog! Having to place your child in a fundamental school where you are not even provided bus service in order for him to be taught in a proper learning environment is not right. Rather, the parents of disrespectful, undisciplined children should be required to provide transportation for their children to fundamental schools specializing in education for children with disciplinary problems.
To allow these disruptive students to remain in the classroom is to allow them to steal educational opportunities from children who want to learn. Every minute that a teacher has to spend dealing with them is a minute not spent in teaching.
As a middle-class baby boomer, I was educated in overcrowded classrooms along with kids from varied social and economic backgrounds. Back then classroom discipline problems were rare because most kids were taught by their parents to respect their teachers and to behave in school. Parents who do not teach these values to their children should have to deal with the consequences.
John Johnston, Clearwater
Tea Party's bitter brew | Feb. 9, commentary by Dick Polman
Mr. Polman, the Tea Party Nation no more represents all Tea Party groups than you represent all so-called reporters. Contrary to what you want people to believe, the members of the various Tea Party groups do not want a third party. They want the existing parties to do their jobs — uphold the Constitution!
Yes, we are against big government and a big deficit. We are not against big corporations, big banks or the major parties. We are against the extremists in both parties who want to take away individual freedoms and turn this country over to the government. This is not a populist movement. It is the mother bear (citizens) backed into a corner while you try to take away her cubs (individual freedoms).
Roosevelt Moore, Largo
I'd like to know where these Tea Party people have been for the past 10 years. Where were they when the Bush administration was cutting taxes for the richest of us, giving multibillion dollar contracts to friends at Halliburton, whose shoddy work was killing our soldiers while earning its people hundreds of thousands a year? Where were they when Democrats were pleading with the 106th Republican-led Congress not to do away with the laws protecting us from bank abuse (Glass-Steagall Act), and exposing CIA agents for telling the truth (Valerie Plame), and not reading terrorism briefings (9/11), or weather reports (Katrina)?
We've had enough of the name-calling, the "no, I don't wannas" and the temper tantrums. They need to go back into time-out and think about what they've done while the Democrats clean up their mess, again.
Madeline Orio, Tampa