Tuesday, February 20, 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

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Feb. 16

A vote against Pasco’s jail bond issueThere are two stories on the front page of the Feb. 9 Pasco Times that drew my attention.The top headline reports that the Pasco County commissioners are discussing submitting a $185 million bond issue to the vot...
Published: 02/13/18