A realistic, ambitious push | Feb. 17, commentary
Time, not technology, is the key
I have been an early childhood teacher in Hillsborough County for 18 years and read with great interest David Brooks' column discussing President Barack Obama's push for better early childhood programs.
Brooks accurately pinpoints that parents are a child's first teacher and that without their skill, interest, etc., it is a hard road for teachers to travel alone. I cringe whenever I pull up next to a car and see the lights from a DVD player in the back seat or when a parent pulls out a DVD player, cellphone, video game, etc., in a restaurant. In these cases and many more, they are missing a fantastic opportunity to educate their child. Talking to your child while driving in the car or sitting at a restaurant is as vital to their development as reading to them every night.
I speak endlessly with the parents of my students about how important their everyday interactions with their child are to their child's academic success. Sometimes I'm successful, but often technology wins.
The one thing I disagreed with was Brooks' quote that "there's still a lot we don't know about how to educate children that young." We do know. The research is there. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff outline how young children really learn in their outstanding book, Einstein Never Used Flash Cards. And they are not the only ones. What we don't know how to do well is assess young children. Young children by nature are not good test takers and they learn in a developmental sequence, not at a specific point in time.
We know how to educate young children. We just need to coordinate efforts between highly effective teachers working in a developmentally appropriate environment with parents who are willing to spend time with their child and put away the technology.
Marcy White, Tampa
No austerity at the top for Citizens | Feb. 18
Ruthless with customers
As a homeowner whose feet have been held to the fire by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. for the last five years, I know firsthand how ruthless they are when dealing with me. Lowering coverage and raising rates has been their credo.
Now with your excellent article exposing the corporate officers' pay and raises, along with their blatant expenditures for food, travel, limousines and the such, I wonder how Gov. Rick Scott can sleep at night.
Being retired and on a fixed income, of all of my living expenses, insurance is the one that is bleeding me out.
Daniel Orsello, Tampa
Public service reporting
This is why I subscribe to the Tampa Bay Times. Thank you for the good reporting in exposing the continuing poor management of the only company that will insure my home. As my fees increase and coverage decreases, I am sickened by the lavish spending these people see as "normal business policy."
Milton Anderson, Hudson
Hold them to account
Citizens' "vision statement" says it is a responsive steward of the public trust. How do Citizens' executives spending exorbitant amounts on hotel accommodations, meals and travel garner the public trust and fiscal responsibility? And what about pay increases of 14 percent? The government office I worked in did not receive pay raises for the past seven years. How does firing the state-mandated internal investigator garner public trust and fiscal responsibility?
Sounds like the only efficient and fiscally responsible thing to do is issue some pink slips.
Roz Fenton, Hudson
Unfair discount denial
Citizens changed their rules to deny our discounts (in spite of our Dade County-rated shutters and roof) increased our rate, lowered our coverage, and spent the money on booze, food, travel and unwarranted raises. This is organized crime sanctioned by our state government.
Jean Hynes, St. Petersburg
Case for Obama's drone war is clear Feb. 18, commentary
Charles Krauthammer begins his defense of the Obama administration's drone war by writing, "If we know a freelance jihadist cell in Yemen is actively plotting an attack, we don't have to wait until after the fact (to use drones)."
The key words are "if we know". Know? As in 2+2=4? Is it possible Krauthammer takes our Mideast "intelligence" sources at face value? Has he forgotten that the disastrous Iraq War was based on the faulty assumption that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? Do neocons ever moderate their views when faced with inconvenient truths?
Robert Lockwood Mills, Sun City Center
Brand Rubio | Feb. 17
After reading Sunday's front-page article, I could not help but notice the lack of female names on Marco Rubio's team or inner circle, with the exception of "hired gun" Malorie Thompson. Rubio and the Republican Party better think seriously about that demographic before 2016.
Richard Boyett, Lakeland
Pope's unorthodox move raises many questions | Feb. 18
Here's what seems odd about the pope's resignation: Every really old pope over the past 600 years, since the last resignation, has probably grown too intellectually and physically feeble to do the job well. It's a lifetime position, and often lifetimes drag on beyond the point when anyone can do a good job. Which leads to the conclusion that over the last 600 years deputies have stepped in quietly to continue the work until the pope dies.
So what makes this pope's condition different from any of the other old popes before him? Why aren't there papal helpers who can step in under the radar and take care of business for his last few years? Or is he being pushed out under the weight of pedophile priest and Vatican bank scandals? That's an unpleasant thought, but it makes more sense than that no Vatican staffers could be found to step up and silently help the pope through his last years.
Edward Cifelli, Dade City