Dissolve Education Department
Regardless of party affiliation, we all agree we must drastically reduce the federal deficit. One way is for Congress to dissolve the U.S. Education Department. We don't need this federal agency, which has a $63 billion budget.
According to the department website, its function is to determine policy and administer federal financial aid for education, collect and distribute information about America's schools, focus attention on educational issues, and prohibit discrimination and ensure equal access to education.
However, policies concerning educational issues and financial aid are best determined at the local level. Discrimination and equal access issues are local enforcement issues. Information about schools is available from the departments of education for each state. There is nothing this taxpayer-funded, $63 billion-a-year federal agency is doing that can't be better done at the state level.
A cut of $63 billion from the budget may not seem like a lot, but it is a good start. Our state and local schools will not be adversely impacted if this agency did not exist. We must reduce deficit spending. I urge you to contact your congressman.
Bill Bunting, Republican state committeeman for Pasco County, Bayonet Point
Millions in jeopardy
if humanitarian aid is cut
Hungry. Starving. Dying. These are words commonly used to express how we feel when we haven't eaten for a few hours.
On a recent Saturday, I and other University of Florida students participated in a 24-hour fast to raise awareness for the world's hungry but also to try to remotely understand the suffering of millions of people.
I can't imagine going to school while fighting hunger. I can't perceive being expected to work 10-hour days in the fields with not enough food or water. But millions of children around the world face this predicament daily.
The Senate is making critical budget decisions on U.S. humanitarian assistance. The House has already voted for cuts that would have an immediate and devastating impact on the world's poor.
If the cuts are passed, some 10.4 million bed nets to fight malaria will not be provided; 6 million treatments for malaria will not be administered; 3.7 million people will not be tested for HIV; 414,000 people will not be provided antiretroviral medication. And the list continues. Nowhere else in the budget is there such a direct and proven correlation between money spent and help provided.
Help the millions of voiceless around the world by calling Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and asking them to stand up for the world's poor.
Kelly Dees, Palm Harbor
Council might rein in begging | March 24
The new jobs reality
The Tampa City Council needs to face the fact that begging is going to be part of the new jobs picture created by the failure of institutions and government at all levels.
The council is part of the same class of mortgage brokers, real estate agents, bankers, finance executives and builders who profited from the artificial boom on the backs of ordinary working people. The council needs to find a better way for desperate people to solicit money directly from generous citizens, rather than putting them in jail.
No one is happy with the situation, but this is the new economic reality.
David W. Lawson, Tampa
Scott's signature changes teaching March 25
Law misses the point
This law puts more pressure on teachers in order to raise student achievement. But what will be done about the real time and success "eaters"?
First, so much class time is wasted trying to keep order. Disruptive students have to be removed over and over, and then they often end up back in class.
Second, teachers, especially in grades K-8, have very little time to teach their subjects due to state-mandated curricular add-ons.
Governmental tolerance of the former and ignorance of the latter are more responsible for what's going on in education than anything else.
John Meros, St. Petersburg
Family support needed
I am a high school teacher in Pinellas County. Whether you agree or disagree with the legislation signed by the governor, a point must be made.
The legislators and governor keep saying that "the most important factor in student success is the teacher in the classroom." Not true. The most important factors in a student's success are: strong family support of education; a family's socioeconomic standing; the student's personal view of education and its perceived value to him or her; and the student's attendance and work ethic.
Joel Melvin, Clearwater
Why I believe nuclear is vital | March 20
Solar for everyone
Recently Vincent Doolan from Progress Energy wrote about why nuclear power was vital to Florida. He stated that nuclear accounted for practically all the zero-emission power Florida uses.
As a board member of the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, I know why that is: because energy companies pay our politicians to deny distributive renewable energy a Renewable Portfolio Standard, which most all other states have.
FARE has a bill in the Senate to allow anyone who puts up money for renewable energy to sell it at a competitive rate. It would create over 40,000 jobs in Florida. The power companies don't want this. They want to bill customers for renewable energy and build solar farms with out-of-state labor.
Solar companies like mine are going out of business or moving to other states. Florida gets the most radiant energy from the sun east of the Mississippi, yet we do nothing with it. People need to ask their representatives to support distributive renewable energy, not centralized, utility-owned renewable energy.
Scott McIntyre, Tampa
Obamacare cartoon | March 25
Waivers tell the tale
Lisa Benson's political cartoon, celebrating the first anniversary of Obamacare, demonstrates the folly of it all. If the law it is as good as its assumed premise, why have so many waivers been granted? The latest is New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who asks that the entire city be exempted.
Reportedly the Obama administration has granted more than 220 reform waivers to unions and corporations in order to stop massive policy cancellations. That is a sure sign that the law was faulty from the beginning.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole