Push for AP has low payoff | Nov. 21
Benefits of AP go beyond exams
I have to disagree with this article concerning a "low payoff" for advanced placement classes in Hillsborough schools.
Traditionally, my school has had a high number of Advanced Placement tests given every year. Our overall pass rate was 43 percent out of 2,700 exams. Last year, we increased the number of Advanced Placement exams by 700 to a total of 3,300. Our overall number of passed exams rose only 1 percent, but we increased the number of possible opportunities for college credit by nearly 300 exams.
I think those numbers state that it was a high payoff for our continued push into Advanced Placement. Additionally, you have to look at each student. Some do take too many Advanced Placements, lose focus, or might not belong in the course due to certain circumstances.
The teachers in my school have done an amazing job teaching Advanced Placement and are working hard on a constant basis to modify their techniques to give our students the best experience.
I will continue to push students into Advanced Placement because the experience will make them better prepared for the future. The student who is pushed into advanced placement, works hard (and gets only a low C in the course), maximizes his experience and gets a 2 on the exam (technically, not passing) is a success story, not a failure by student or teacher standards.
We do have to continue to evaluate the big picture and be realistic with Advanced Placement, but this district push has been tremendously beneficial, and we do it for our kids, not the state grading system. Would any parent want his child told "no" and not given the opportunity for a higher-level class just because he is told he "cannot handle it"?
Rob Nelson, principal, Plant High School, Odessa
What the law intended
This article prompted me to recall the purpose of AP programs in Florida. I concluded that the program is about access, not AP exam scores.
The Florida Legislature passed the Florida Partnership for Minority and Underrepresented Student Achievement Act during its 2004 session. Then-state Sen. Les Miller sponsored the bill. The Legislature's intent included "that every student enrolled in a public secondary school has access to high-quality, rigorous academics, with a particular focus on access to advanced courses."
"AP exam pass rates" is nowhere in the legislation. Perhaps the Legislature recognized that a cultural change in producing academic excellence might take a decade or more.
Jason D. Mims, Tampa
Bicyclists must heed their responsibilities under law
After reading the recent articles about bicyclists, bicycle accidents and bicycle deaths on our streets, it seems surprising that not once has the bicyclist's responsibility under the law been mentioned.
Quoting from the regulations:
"Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway …
"Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane."
I am a bicyclist and ride 30-40 miles a week on public roads. Many times during the course of riding I have had to stop for motorists at intersections who either didn't see me (motorists typically watch for vehicles, not bicycles) or ignored the fact that I had the right of way. Nonetheless, I am smart enough to know that I am responsible for my own safety when riding on public streets.
I live on Indian Rocks Beach. Gulf Boulevard seems to be a popular route for bicycle clubs. Regularly, I am forced to drive 15 mph behind groups of bicyclists impeding traffic by riding two, three and four abreast on Gulf Boulevard, oblivious to the line of traffic and frayed nerves behind them.
When you confront these characters, they generally pummel you with insults and gestures insisting that they have the same rights on the road as motor vehicles. Wrong. They have every right to use the roadway, but it is illegal for them impede the flow of traffic. Yet I have watched city, county and state law enforcement simply ignore cyclists who blatantly disregard the law.
Notwithstanding the law, the conundrum of bicycles vs. motor vehicles has a simple three-step solution: caution, common sense and above all consideration — on both sides.
Chris Clark, Indian Rocks Beach
Anthem for the modern man | Nov. 21, Charles Krauthammer column
The faces of terrorism
Does Charles Krauthammer actually think that people who look similar to Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber; his accomplice Terry Nichols; Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; and John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, should not be body-scanned and patted down thoroughly at airports?
What sane person would take the monumental risk of another 9/11? Does anyone think that there are not normal-looking American citizens out there who could be recruited to be terrorists?
Krauthammer would be the first to start wailing if a terrorist got by airport security and perpetrated some heinous act.
Jeff Radley, Lithia
Those eligible for Medicare, and those about to become eligible, will face a nasty surprise if the lame-duck Congress doesn't take action on rate rollbacks about to hit the program.
The rollback has nothing to do with the newly passed health insurance act. During the 1990s, Congress tried to put a lid on the increasing cost of Medicare by adopting something called the "sustainable growth rate." This is an arbitrary rollback of rates of reimbursement for all Medicare expenses.
If no action is taken, as of Dec. 1 the cut will be about 23 percent, followed by a 6.5 percent cut. Doctors are like any other business. If they can't cover the costs of a service, they have to drop it or close their doors.
Talk to your Congress members now, before it's too late.
Sheryl Stolzenberg, Lake Mary
The pope and condoms
Once again the secular press misrepresents the pope by implying that his remarks about male gay prostitutes using condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS may indicate a change in the Vatican's position on sexual ethics.
Condom use during sexual intercourse is considered immoral by the church because it is contraceptive in that it purposely separates the unitive from the procreative aspects of the act. Since it is impossible for genital activity between two males to be procreative, it follows that their use of condoms is not therefore contraceptive.
Howard Glicksman, M.D., Spring Hill
Jobs in Florida
Embargo hurts state
I recently wrote to Gov.-elect Rick Scott about jobs, asking why we still have the Cuba embargo. Florida loses millions of dollars and thousands of tourism jobs to Mexico and Canada, which offer flights to Cuba.
Florida is 90 miles from Havana. Tampa is a short flight. We have a geographical advantage that no competitor can match. The embargo only punishes Florida.
Hal Batey, St. Petersburg