Sunday, June 17, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Vote for June's Letter of the Month

Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.

Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.

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High court spares killer | May 28

IQ test's limited use

The latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling found fault with Florida's statute defining a specific IQ value of 71 as a standard for executions.

The IQ test was originally constructed for Parisian schools by the psychologist Alfred Binet during the early 1900s. It was designed to predict which children would need special assistance in their classwork, and was considered effective for that purpose.

Using this and later instruments to test "intelligence" has greatly helped educators to identify students with unique needs. It is infinitely more useful than most other assessment methods, but was never considered to be a measure of a child's total capability.

Binet considered the scores on his intelligence test to be limited and temporary, not a predictor of a student's success in life. He considered the test results highly dependent upon the child's environment.

Today, the IQ test is much improved but considered by many psychologists as invalid for many of the uses that have evolved since Binet.

The standard often used to define mental retardation in most cases is an IQ of 70. A person scoring below this level would be expected to be less successful in school than 97.8 percent of the population. This is not a valid determiner of whether a person "knows right from wrong," nor was it designed for this purpose.

Fred Prince, Tampa (June 1)

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Expert: Pot can be harmful | June 6

Legal medicines also carry risks

This is a risk vs. reward debate. It is a fact that prescription and nonprescription drugs pose a risk of harm whether used as directed or misused. These risks are often identified in the drugs' disclaimers. Who can argue that oxycodone and Xanax cannot cause harm? What about the risks of steroid usage, even when taken as prescribed? But of course, FDA-approved drugs have demonstrated benefits as well.

Marijuana also has medical benefits. The fact that there may be risks makes it little different from legal drugs widely in use today, except that the risks associated with marijuana may in fact be less.

The vast risks of using alcohol and tobacco are well known. Why are these products not illegal?

There are zero "use as directed" regulations for either alcohol or tobacco, and they are frequently abused.

I submit that the benefits of medical marijuana are well known and documented, against very limited known and documented risks. Many drugs used legally every day, to include alcohol and tobacco, are joined by products like sugar in posing widespread and lethal risks that our laws do not protect us from.

Why has medical marijuana (and recreational marijuana) been singled out as being so sinister?

Thomas Morton, Sun City Center (June 11)

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FCAT results give few answers | June 15

Trauma too often ignored

As a licensed mental health counselor, I believe that one of the difficulties in finding school improvement answers lies in not asking this question: What is stopping kids from learning? One answer is probably the trauma of adverse childhood experiences.

Demographically, the listed schools struggle with high poverty. Where there is high poverty, there are high levels of adverse childhood experiences and trauma. Criminal activity, violence, substance abuse and mental illness all take a toll on a child's ability to learn.

The human body is programmed to react to emergencies with a flood of cortisol and adrenaline. Emergencies do not allow time for reflection and thoughtful consideration. The thing is, if life is a permanent emergency, that same reaction interferes with higher learning. When schools try to handle difficult behavior with punishment, referrals and expulsion, they inadvertently retrigger the emergency reaction. And things get worse.

Across our country, school districts are recognizing that most challenged schools have to shift from a punishment to a problem-solving approach in handling difficult behavior and poor classroom performance.

And improvement, while slow, is happening. San Francisco's El Dorado Elementary used trauma-informed and restorative practices, and suspensions dropped 89 percent. Wellness centers, calming corners, buddy classrooms and, above all, trauma-informed staff — from the principal to the maintenance team — can transform a child's ability to learn.

Juliana Menke, St. Petersburg (June 19)

Comments

Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Tuesday’s letters: Fewer guns would reduce suicides

U.S. under suicide watch | June 8Fewer guns mean fewer suicidesIt is a fact that deserves more attention, but got only one sentence in the article about the U.S. "suicide watch:" "The most common method used across all groups was firearms." I spe...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for June 15

New group to address real women’s issuesLast Saturday our Congressman Gus Bilirakis sponsored a "Woman’s Summit" at East Lake High School that was supposed to deal with women’s issues. Some topics covered were gardening, weight loss and quilting.Mayb...
Published: 06/11/18

Monday’s letters: Bring back the ferry, kick-start transit

Cross bay, but who’ll pay? | June 8Ferry could be a gateway to transitIt’s great news that St. Petersburg is committed to bringing back the world class cross bay ferry service. What a common-sense and practical thing to do in order to ease us int...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/11/18