Friday, November 24, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Education chief a respected leader


Education chief must listen, learn | Dec. 13, editorial

Education chief a respected leader

Florida fourth- and eighth-grade students, their teachers and families deserve to be applauded for recently released test scores showing Florida students outperformed many of their national counterparts in international reading, mathematics and science. Florida fourth-grade readers were ranked second in the world.

These results, based on the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, were released last week by the National Center for Education Statistics. The test scores highlight the impressive progress and achievements made possible with the dedication and hard work of Florida's teachers and students in a global comparison.

It is disappointing that the Tampa Bay Times, before highlighting those successes, chose to attack the selection of Dr. Tony Bennett as Florida's new commissioner of education before he has had a chance to even begin his service.

Bennett is an exciting and respected educational professional with decades of classroom and administrative leadership in education. He held a national leadership position in the planning of our transition to Common Core educational standards. He has the promise and enthusiasm to work with every Floridian to better our education systems for every Florida child.

I hope that someday the editors will choose to be encouraging and directional before they condemn, judge and chastise new leadership in our state, including our new commissioner of education.

Kathleen Shanahan, member, Florida Board of Education, Tampa

Connecticut school killings

Helping children to cope

Most of us are in a state of disbelief because of the recent horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. We not only mourn the senseless loss of innocent lives, but as parents and providers, we also wonder what we can do to help our children. Below are some ideas that you can use to help children cope:

• Try to keep routines as normal as possible. Children gain security from the predictability of daily routines, including attending school and other activities.

• Limit children's exposure to media, including television and radio, so that they do not re-experience the tragedy over and over.

• Listen to children's fears and concerns, encourage them to share their feelings, and provide as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.

• Preschool children need brief, simple information and reassurance.

• School-age children may have more questions about their own safety and what is being done to protect children.

• Older children and adolescents may want to talk about their own ideas for making things safer.

• Tell your children that you love them, give them plenty of hugs and reassure them that they will be okay.

• Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families, and help children express their feelings by drawing a picture, writing a poem or saying a prayer.

• Be observant for changes in your child's behavior, appetite, or sleep patterns, which can be an indicator of their grief response. Some children may need the extra support from a mental health professional or clergy.

You can find more information about helping children cope with crises at the National Association of School Psychologists website,

Dr. Kathleen Armstrong, USF Health, Tampa

Culture of violence

I cannot say with any certainty what would cause an individual to walk into a school and murder innocent children, but I would not dismiss the influence of the violent and obscene movies, television, videos and other forms of "entertainment" that we are exposed to every day.

Shootings, murders, explosions and all manner of violence are displayed to us constantly. Are we brainwashing this generation into thinking this type of action is normal?

Many individuals have guns in their homes that are never used carelessly or aggressively. How to keep guns out of the hands of disturbed members of society, and the causes and cures of their afflictions, are issues we must address.

Robert Moore, St. Petersburg


Pathway to employment

The Florida economy is picking up, thanks to sound fiscal policies of the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott's job creation priority. The unemployment rate in Florida is 8.5 percent, down 2.6 percentage points since January 2011 — more than any other state in the nation. While this shows we are on the right track, there are many Floridians still seeking employment.

One sometimes overlooked option for individuals seeking employment is to volunteer. Volunteering helps individuals to develop new skills, gain experience and network.

The Governor's Commission on Community Service, Volunteer Florida, recently conducted a statewide survey of partner agencies asking the question: Do you know of a volunteer who has secured a job as a result of their volunteer work? The results were astonishing: 76 percent of respondents stated that they either hired someone who volunteered for their organization or knew someone who was hired as a result of volunteer activities.

Not only does volunteerism provide an outlet to gain new experience, skills and networking opportunities; it is also empowering and benefits the local community. Volunteering is like a triple crown of service: the community, the nonprofit and the individual are all winners through volunteer work.

Just an hour or two a week can have a tremendous impact. If you're looking for ways you can help both your employment prospects and your community, try volunteering.

Please contact the United Way of Tampa Bay,, for volunteer opportunities that might be of interest to you.

Chester W. Spellman, CEO, Volunteer Florida, Tallahassee

Rice decides to back down | Dec. 14

Putting country first

Susan Rice is to be congratulated for putting the country first instead of being focused solely on her career. We need every member of Congress to emulate her and put this country before their egos, which is what they are doing now.

Sylvia Fies, St. Petersburg


Monday’s letters: Don’t forget pain sufferers

Fighting opioids on many fronts Nov. 22, editorialDon’t forget pain sufferersSufferers of debilitating, chronic pain seem to be largely forgotten in the public and corporate hysteria about opioid abuse. There are millions of people whose chronic pain...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill will benefit all businesses

Nelson warns of tax bill’s effects | Nov. 21Proposal is win for all concernedHas Sen. Bill Nelson even read the new proposed tax bill?If he knew anything about it he should be embarrassed by his rhetoric as stated in the Times article. The corpor...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Saturday’s letters: Value and respect our teachers

Crowd backs raises | Nov. 15Respect and value our teachersTeachers are the "engine" that drives the "train" of our Hillsborough County school district. Teachers and support personnel affect every aspect of a child’s life. They are the students’ "...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Friday’s letters: Find private investors for a new stadium

Opening offer from Rays on stadium sounds too low | Nov. 17, editorialFind private investors for stadiumThe Rays "offered" to pay 18.75 percent of the costs? How outrageously presumptuous to say that they offered! Put another way, they demanded t...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Thursday’s letters: Tax plan won’t help wages

Tax billThis won’t help stagnant wagesThe unfair tax proposal that cuts taxes for the rich and most powerful and cuts the ability of working people to claim any comparable deductions is no more than another greedy power grab by the rich and powerful....
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Wednesday’s letters: Breaking down health data

Don’t let news on blood pressure raise yours | Nov. 17, commentaryBreaking down health numbersThank you for publishing the timely commentary by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch on blood pressure. The point he makes about relative risks versus absolute risks ...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Tuesday’s letters: Disgraceful tax proposals

Tax billDisgraceful, harmful proposalsThe very fact that the Congress of the people of the United States would propose, not to mention pass, the current tax bill is nothing short of disgraceful. What sort of representatives of the people support cutt...
Published: 11/20/17

Monday’s letters: Doctors should speak up on harassment

Sexual harassmentDoctors need to speak upThe recent widespread recognition, followed by disapproval, of sexual harassment across many workplaces signals a paradigm shift in social attitudes toward abuse of power that is long overdue.The male-dominate...
Published: 11/17/17

Saturday’s letters: Reservoir project off to a good start

Lake OkeechobeeReservoir project off to good startThis year, more than 70,000 Floridians contacted their legislators to support expediting a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee. Another 150 business people, anglers, health care professionals a...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Sunday’s letters: Roundabout way to help the rich

Senate GOP’s tax plan to kill ACA mandate | Nov. 15Devious way to hurt middle classSo, let’s see if we have this straight. The proposed amendment to the Senate tax plan, to kill the individual mandate, will cause young people to not buy health in...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17