Primary not just for partisan races
The primary election is just around the corner (Aug. 24) and many voters have already voted by mail. But there is a misconception among citizens that those registered independent or for other minor parties may not vote in the primary.
This is not the case. The school board and judicial races are nonpartisan elections, and every registered voter is eligible. In fact, these offices may affect you more personally than state- and national-level offices. Do you have children in our school system? Do you want to see fair, unbiased court proceedings?
Take the time to learn about candidates for all of the races. There are many candidate forums available and there will be more after the primaries. This is an important election year in Florida. We will vote for a U.S. senator, congressional representatives, governor, attorney general, state representatives, and the county commission as well as judges and school board members. Exercise your right to vote in the primary on Aug. 24 and in the general election on Nov. 2. See you at the polls!
Lisa Meyers and Amanda Patanow, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area
I wince every time I hear or read the phrase "throw the bums out." As newspapers are on the decline in readership and a lot of citizens get their information from Jon or Jay and political posturing in TV ads, how do we select people who will look out for "our" interests?
If you are a thinking voter, it is difficult at best given the current state of affairs in our Legislature. Arrogance and personal gain have become the status quo. Do we go with the devil we know, or try a new person hoping that he or she will do the right thing on our behalf?
This is a very important election. Our futures rest on the results, so think carefully about your selection. As for me, I don't have a clue.
D.G. Murray, New Port Richey
Big drop in scores adds fuel to feud Aug. 7, story
To serve our students, stringent standards needed
This issue goes back to the constant battle of who is responsible for educating our children. The finger-pointing continues, and the latest cry is that the FCAT is "unfair" and needs yet another closer look.
Let's examine the results more closely. In 2009, 72 percent of schools received an A, 3 percent received either a D or an F, and less than 1 percent received an F. In 2010, 54 percent of schools received an A, 6 percent received either a D or an F, and 2 percent received an F. Even with more stringent standards, in 2010 more than half of all schools received not just a passing grade, but an A. I don't recall any class I took in which more than half the class was awarded an A for "outstanding" work.
The first part of fixing a problem is acknowledging that it is exists. For any school performing in the bottom 6 percent of the state (calculated from a measuring tool that has been triple-validated), this means taking responsibility that the educational system in this school is simply not working. No excuse could justify that level of performance. The article quotes the idea of "stepping up on behalf of the students." Who would be protected if the FCAT was deemed too stringent: underperforming students or teachers?
The end result for poorly educated students (or for low standards for all students) is graduates who can't read or write, and wouldn't even be able to vaguely fathom how basic things such as interest rates work. A simple glance at our current real estate market and credit card debt shows how this lack of knowledge can affect all of us.
Dr. Thomas Mathew, Clearwater
Educators urge state to delay FCAT results Aug. 6.
Test makes things worse
Here we go again. The FCAT continues to be a destructive system used to educate the students in this state. There is no teaching. It is teach to pass FCAT. Then no one likes the scores. Are they skewed to lower bonuses? Or are they correct? How many more sources are going to review the test scores?
So far, they all agree: FCAT costs taxpayers, and it is useless as an accurate evaluation of the students. Why are teachers not giving the tests, grading them and determining the student's progress? Instead of money filtering into FCAT, filter it to the schools.
In the elementary classrooms, I see students working in groups on math, reading and science — with no supervision. They play games when they are "finished." They determine if they completed all their work. The teacher checks it off. The actual teacher-to-pupil time is very limited. Accountability starts at the top and those who continue to force a faulty FCAT teaching method are responsible for shoddy education.
Christina Ennist, New Port Richey
State pain pill law
A job for insurance
Most doctors don't have the opportunity to check out every patient who warrants a pain pill or other scheduled drug prescription. We've got enough to do trying to evaluate and effectively treat our patients, and wasting time fighting insurance companies over what test we can order or what medications we can prescribe for our patients.
Interestingly, I received a letter from an insurance company advising me that a patient had had more than 50 prescriptions filled for narcotics, depressants, stimulants, and more, with the names of the prescribing physicians. So why can't we leave it up to them, along with records from pharmacies, where they have to get the prescriptions filled, to advise doctors and policing authorities when it appears that patients are doctor-shopping for drugs?
David Lubin, M.D., Tampa
Stop addictive drugs | Aug. 6, letter
There are responsible users
So the letter writer thinks that the manufacture of oxycodone should be banned because some people abuse it. Some people speed, so let's ban cars.
What about the people who use oxycodone responsibly, to ease constant pain? The letter writer doesn't seem to care about us. I am sorry her son became an addict, but that does not give her a right to punish me for it.
Elizabeth Heim, Weeki Wachee