Florida's search for education commissioner lacking rock star candidate | June 1
A leader, not rock star, is needed
A recent headline claimed our state was searching for a "rock star" to fill the role of commissioner of education. Instead of a rock star, Florida needs an education leader who can demonstrate the best qualities of success, someone who can draw upon the immense talents of so many dedicated people in our educational systems to work together to push Florida to the forefront of achievement and continuous improvement.
The opportunity is here to move our state further into the forefront of improvement and reform. The Legislature has passed a series of bills that offer the promise of continued change and improvement. We have tremendous superintendents across Florida. We have dedicated school board members with their feet on the ground in our local communities. We have a strong state Board of Education and we have a legion of dedicated and committed teachers and school administrators. We have resources for the right conductor to work closely with all of this talent for the betterment of the children of Florida.
Florida should never stand still in the pursuit of improvement, and it should continue to model, measure and modify. Florida does not need a rock star. It needs leadership from a great conductor who has the willingness to effectively use the talent chain we already have in our great state.
Ed H. Moore, president and CEO, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida
$80 billion carmaker bailout to cost $14B June 2
Losing $14 billion is hardly great news for taxpayers
How reckless is it for the Obama administration to tell us that losing $14 billion after giving the automakers Chrysler and General Motors an $80 billion bailout is great news for taxpayers?
President Barack Obama should have required the automakers to pay it all back, even if it takes 10 or 20 years. Lee Iacocca of Chrysler was given $20 billion by President Ronald Reagan, but it was all paid back. No wonder we are drowning in debt.
Philip W. Tropea, Palm Harbor
Rubio accepts teaching job at FIU | June 3
On government support
Sen. Marco Rubio was hired to "co-teach" four classes at a state university for $24,000. How much work is "co-teaching"? Adjunct professors normally make $2,000 a class to teach it by themselves. Rubio is making three times the normal rate and is only co-teaching.
Rubio won his Senate seat because of the tea party, which has shown so much animosity to federal and state workers. Rubio is now both.
Debbie Terhune, Treasure Island
A cushy position
The coverage of Sen. Marco Rubio's teaching appointment at FIU seems to ignore some rather cushy aspects of the position. First, Rubio will be "co-teaching" these classes. That means another professor will also be teaching them. What exactly will Rubio be doing? Just showing up to lecture? Or will he be grading papers, planning classes and doing the heavy lifting of teaching a class? Will he available to meet with students as other professors are required to be? Will his syllabus and teaching be evaluated by the dean of the department?
His salary is also generous: $24,000 for four courses, or $6,000 a course. But the cost of the class isn't just his salary; it's also whatever the professor co-teaching the class will get paid. This doesn't seem like a fiscally conservative setup to me.
Gregory Byrd, Clearwater
Rolling violations | June 2
A smile came to my face as I read what some people do to avoid tolls. However, it was stated that a motorcycle rider would not be able to stop quickly to avoid a squirrel while in the so-called "rolling butterfly" position. First, depending on rider skill and bike characteristics, 70 to 80 percent of the total braking can be obtained from using the front brake. Second, the time and distance it would require to stop makes stopping a much less ideal option then to simply swerve around the obstacle.
Reece Brooks, Zephyrhills
A model of dignity
Has anyone noticed? In light of the sex scandals that have been in the news lately and the low opinion of politicians, there is not one mention of this nation's role model who sits in the White House — a family man with no hint of scandal, never says a mean word about anyone in public, and is intelligent and dignified.
Thank you, Barack Obama.
Carole Gallotta, Bradenton
Make all pay fair share
Politicians love to talk about raising the Social Security retirement age to 69 or 70. Working longer may be easy for them, since they sit at desks all day. But I work on my feet all day long. For folks like me who have jobs that wear down our bodies after 40 years, working longer is just not an option. With my back pain, even waiting until I'm 67 to get Social Security is a long time to wait.
If politicians want to mess with Social Security, they should start with the Social Security tax cap. I've never understood why I pay Social Security taxes on all of my income, but millionaires and billionaires only pay the Social Security tax on the first $107,000 they make. It's not right.
Instead of cutting our Social Security benefits and making us work longer, members of Congress should follow the will of the people who elected them. They should eliminate the cap and make the rich pay their fair share.
Christina Regalado, Tampa
An alphabet of emotions | June 3
Highlight the exemplary
Kudos on the lovely color photograph and witty caption of Sukanya Roy, this year's winner of the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee. It's a pity it was on the back page instead of showcased on the front page.
Why do newspapers consistently prominently profile juvenile delinquents who wreak havoc in their hometowns, while downplaying the few and far between who bring honor to themselves and their families?
Let's take a bold stance and reverse the status quo. Downplay the losers and deny them their 15 minutes of fame and laud the exemplary as an inspiration to others.
Patricia Lee-Lucardie, Tampa