Thursday, May 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Thursday's letters: Measure students at start, end of year

Teacher ratings unreliable | Dec. 8, editorial

Measure students at start, finish

As a classroom teacher and someone who is subject to Florida's new teacher performance evaluation system, I believe I can speak for many teachers across the state. The worst mistakes weren't made recently with the release of erroneous results. Rather, mistakes began with the creation of a system that doesn't measure a student's growth or a teacher's effectiveness.

I don't believe teachers are afraid of being evaluated. And they are not afraid to be judged on the impact they have had on their students. They are afraid of a convoluted system that compares their students to a profile of composite students that data indicate are so-called "like" students. If we want to know how well Johnny is doing and whether a teacher is doing his or her job, test Johnny's knowledge of a subject at the beginning of the year and compare it to the results at the end of the year. That will tell us exactly what Johnny has learned and would say a great deal about a teacher's effectiveness.

The 2011 teacher evaluation bill (SB 736) has failed. The damage it has caused to our teachers and their morale is huge. Measuring the performance of our schools, teachers and students is too critical to waste another year. We need to take whatever time it requires to get it right.

State Rep. Carl Zimmermann, District 65, D-St. Petersburg

Failure to protect children | Dec. 9, editorial

We must take responsibility

The horrendous treatment suffered by this medically fragile child, Marie Freyre, is a disgrace. My heart goes out to her mother in her wrenching grief. It's unconscionable that our state of Florida allows such treatment. These kinds of laws and rules need to be changed now.

Our state government has failed to protect the most helpless, the most vulnerable. Please, we cannot let this happen again. It's time to write letters to our governor, our representatives and senators. We all must take responsibility for what happened and make our voices heard.

Lilyan Dayton, New Port Richey

I pledge allegiance to that gasbag Dec. 9, John Romano column

Root out the fraud

This column focuses on the wrong root causes of our national debt problem. Our bloated federal government has an overspending problem, not an undertaxing problem.

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security lose over $200 billion a year to waste and criminal fraud. The IRS readily admits that it fails to collect over $380 billion every year from tax evaders. President Barack Obama's deficit reduction commission identified $100 billion in annual savings from unnecessary Pentagon spending.

These improvements in government functions would dwarf any tax increases. No matter how much Obama increases the taxes on the rich, it will have a minimal impact on our annual budget deficit and our skyrocketing national debt. There are just not enough rich Americans in the country. All it will do is take tens of billions of disposable income out of a struggling economy and give to the Washington political class that will turn around and waste it on itself, their cronies, and silly government programs.

Walter Korschek, Palm Harbor

Don't encourage spending

I do not support Grover Norquist; however, John Romano seems to miss the point as to why Norquist is taking pledges from politicians stating they will not increase taxes. By doing this, Norquist is attempting to hold politicians' feet to the fire for the promises made on the campaign trail.

Increasing taxes only encourages further outrageous government spending like we have had the last four years. The current revenue from taxes is the highest in history, and government spending the last four years has been so outrageous that we now face a fiscal cliff and further downgrading by financial institutions.

Just remember the adage: "Give a politician a dollar, and he will find a way to spend it."

Robert K. Reader, Clearwater

America's best bet: Stay involved Dec. 7, commentary

Money brings big returns

The authors are precisely right about the leverage in dollars and human kindness that our foreign assistance gives the United States. Over the last two years, the international affairs account has already been cut by 15 percent. Sequestration or additional disproportionate cuts will not make anywhere near a significant dent in reducing our deficit. But they will create serious adversity, even death, for millions living in poverty and illness — as well as subtract from America's global leadership and moral standing.

Yes, we need to put our economic house in order, but not on the backs of those most deeply in need. In its fiscal negotiations, Congress needs to protect our proven, effective poverty programs and to oppose deep and disproportionate cuts to the international affairs account.

Linda Schatz, Tampa

Learning, not fads | Dec. 9, commentary

More than facts

A former school superintendent, I was long puzzled as to why students who received GED diplomas fared worse at college than students with comparable skill levels who received traditional diplomas. I can only conclude that in-class students acquire more than facts in school — they learn the social and academic rules of learning, interaction, inquiry and application of what they have learned.

All four of these vital components are also lacking in online learning — a fact which the moguls pushing the fad won't acknowledge. No physician educated solely online will operate on me; I want a doctor who has had his ideas challenged in person, had them confronted by other people's ideas, then tested — in person — by some means sounder than paper-and-pencil examinations.

There may be components of education that can be packaged and consumed online — namely, the small, rote-memory bits we all need to know — but to hold forth online learning as a panacea for today's education problems is folly.

Stephen E. Phillips, St. Petersburg

Comments

Wednesday’s letters: Thanks to jurors for fulfilling civic duty

May is Juror Appreciation MonthThanks, jurors, for your serviceTrial by a jury of one’s peers is among the bedrock guarantees that make our representative democracy exceptional. Without it, the courtroom fates of defendants and civil litigants would ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Thursday’s letters: Heated chemotherapy won’t treat most ovarian cancers

Heated chemotherapy has promising results | May 16Cancer treatment not a cure-all While we were pleased to see the story about ovarian cancer treatment, we are concerned that the article could mislead many patients. The treatment described has be...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Wednesday’s letters: A princess gives us a lesson to live by

Royal treatment | May 21Princess offers advice for us allThe radiant and joyful Princess Anna Noela Lokolo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, recent Eckerd College graduate, has given us a huge gift in her parting words. "If people have a negat...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/23/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Central High School bomb threat suspect to be tried as adult | May 4Angry mob rhetoric not helpfulWe have observed the public discourse surrounding the case of Mizella Robinson with increasing unease. A sampling of the more common sentiment...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Proposed TECO Solar Plant Opposed to the TECO solar plantAs a 21-year resident and property owner, I am writing in opposition to the proposed Tampa Electric Company solar plant in rural northeast Pasco County.The solar plant will be .2 miles from...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Tuesday’s letters: If you don’t like the Electoral College, then amend the Constitution

The popular vote | May 20, letterIf you don’t like it, amend ConstitutionA recent letter supports the idea that a state should be able to change its Electoral College vote to match that of the national popular vote winner as opposed to the result...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Friday’s letters: Putnam and Publix, two P’s lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17A pleasure to shop elsewhereMy family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye.Firs...
Published: 05/18/18

Saturday’s letters: For Florida to move forward, focus on a healthy and sustainable environment

Tampa’s future is bright | May 12Protect Florida, boost economyThis past year, Florida set another record-breaking year for tourism, welcoming more than 116 million visitors. While Florida boasts a unique quality of life and more than 1,300 miles...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Sunday’s letters: What conservatives stand for

How can conservatism survive after Trump | May 13, Nickens columnhed#6324 I think it obvious that traditional conservatism was squeezed out of the 2016 campaign narrative and has become a niche thesis owned by a small group of intellectuals. A gr...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18