Lottery for schools not fair | Editorial, March 15
To call process 'rigged' is wrong
The editorial raises some valid points about the Pinellas County School District's application process for magnet and fundamental programs. We heartily endorse the type of brainstorming the editorial suggests when it comes to continuous improvement of our systems and operations.
I do take issue with the editorial's charge that the system is "rigged." According to my dictionary, to "rig" something means "to manipulate or control, usually by deceptive or dishonest means." The secondary definition of "rig" is "to fix in advance for a desired result." Admittedly, we can do a better job when it comes to the way our student assignment process works. We also can, as the editorial points out, work on a better means of communicating to families how our system operates. However, to imply that the district is willfully manipulating the lives of students for dishonest purposes is absolutely untrue.
My other concern is the idea expressed in the editorial that families who do not get a seat in a magnet or fundamental program "lose." To suggest such a thing not only is a disservice to the district and its excellent nonmagnet and nonfundamental schools, but to the students who attend them.
At no time has the district ever suggested that every student will be provided with a seat in a magnet or fundamental program. The popularity of these programs is a point of pride for our school system. The programs create variety within the parameters of state standards and requirements. While there may be critics of the current application program structure, I am certain there also would be criticism if the district provided no application program options, or if it provided only application program options.
We are interested in the success of all students. We will continue to do our best to offer a quality education to all students, regardless of the program they attend, while exercising due diligence in correcting system flaws wherever they occur.
John A. Stewart, superintendent, Pinellas County Schools
Lottery for schools not fair | Editorial, March 15
Let supply meet demand
I agree that it is a shame that so many Pinellas County families are disappointed when they are unable to find seats in the very successful magnet and fundamental school programs. But why should there be any disappointed families? The best solution to this problem would simply be to create more magnet and fundamental schools in order to open up more seats. This is a market-driven problem that should be resolved through a market-driven solution. These programs are obviously very popular and successful. Let's offer our kids the best education possible and, in the process, eliminate disappointed (and unhappy) parents.
Wayne "Skipp" Fraser, St. Petersburg
Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs March 15, commentary
Wakeup call for 'Muppets'
I was happy to see the Times carry Greg Smith's explanation of his resignation from Goldman Sachs. I only wish I could have read it 12 years ago.
As a retired minister, I took my retirement fund to another well-known national brokerage firm and explained that I would like to hedge inflation and make my money grow. As a selling point for using their full-fee account rather than a discount broker, I would get professional advice and access to "new issues" that I had never owned but were shown to be very profitable.
They advised Lucent, Plug Power and several other stocks that are barely existent today. When they were unable to provide allocations of the hottest issues, they promoted an in-house "actively managed new issue fund" in which I lost 70 percent of my investment before selling.
Disgusted three years later, I left that well-known brokerage after it advised me to put what I had left into a managed account over which it would have complete discretion. I understand now that I was one of the "Muppets," and I hope that the rest of you "Muppets" will now heed Smith's warning.
Donald A. Lavallee, Safety Harbor
War Powers Act Congress must weigh in
I viewed the March 7 exchange between Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Panetta repeatedly dictated to Sessions that the executive branch did not need the approval of Congress to declare war, but could declare war at the behest of a foreign agent — the United Nations. This view states that the role of Congress, the elected voices of the people, is ceremonial and is a direct affront to the liberties of all Americans.
Now U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., has proposed a bill, H.CON.RES.107, stating that any declaration of war without the consent of Congress is a violation of the U.S. Constitution under Article I, Section 8, Clause 11. Under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, this is a high crime and misdemeanor and thus an impeachable offense.
Considering the current geopolitical climate, declarations of war, even acts of "kinetic humanitarian intervention," should and must have congressional approval, as the lives of our sons and daughters and mothers and fathers, true patriots who are sent into action on foreign soil, are on the line. The domestic threat is just as grave, as our country cannot continue to finance the deliverance of our economy into oblivion. Our Constitution must be protected.
Daniel O'Shaunessy, St. Petersburg
Valid ID is part of voting March 17 letter to the editor
A constitutional difference
This letter writer fails to note that not one of the activities on his laundry list that require a driver license, or other ID, to exercise is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The right to vote is. And therein lies the difference.
Charles E. Lehnert, Riverview
Turmoil in the rivers of his memory March 18
Campbell's loving support
Just finished reading Sean Daly's thoughtful and respectfully written article and want to compliment him on staying above the sensationalistic or maudlin to bring us an unvarnished status of a dauntless man and his family dealing with a frustrating and heartbreaking situation. Although the majority of families who experience Alzheimer's or any traumatic illness firsthand don't have the wherewithal this family is fortunate to have, Glen Campbell's family's support well fits the definition of "family," i.e. "one's own flesh and blood, one's nearest and dearest" (American Century Thesaurus). Thank you and I hope Mr. Campbell's family appreciated the article, too.
Joan Adkins, Wesley Chapel