Race to sanity | June 7, David Brooks column
Education 'reformers' on wrong track
This is greatest amount of garbage ever packed into a David Brooks column. I will pass lightly by the insanity that "this is not heavy-handed Washington …" When you put up a $4.5 billion bribe, it may not be prescriptive, but its intentions are quite naked.
Brooks has the stereotypical view of the right-wing public school-replacers who allege that the "teacher unions and their allies have become proficient in beating back Republican demands for more charters, accountability and choice."
Visit Florida. With a prehistoric Legislature, we have been given all this plus vouchers. Has it made a difference? Not to the radical right. They need more vouchers, more "accountability," more choice. When you stop to think of it, they need public schools to disappear for the glorious day when the public will pay for students to go to any school, be home schooled, or choose "distance" learning (computer accessed).
And what is a "failing school?" Can it possibly make sense to fire all of the teachers — unless the motive is dismissal by administrative dart-throwing?
How has the president better aligned the education system with American values? The value of the public schools, as designed, was equal opportunity, not equal accomplishment. What value are you talking about — the award of a credential to a federally programmed robotic 18-year-old?
Ask any active teacher if they should raise their standards when only 10-20 percent of their students are receiving A's. You try teaching, Mr. Brooks, before you jump on the bandwagon of so-called reformers who frankly don't know what they are asking for.
Don Chamberlin, Clearwater
Tardy FCATs create snags | June 7, story
Get rid of the FCAT
Now is the perfect time to get rid of the FCAT! Can you imagine spending $254 million on a contract, and the company cannot get the information to you on time. By now, most educated people realize that the concept of No Child Left Behind was a sorry joke on our children.
We left behind a whole generation of students who really wanted to learn but were not allowed. It is any wonder that many of our high school graduates cannot pass the SAT for college because they have spent their high school years studying the FCAT. One of the volunteers at a high school could not understand that a student did not know the capital of Florida. That is easy to understand. The capital of the state of Florida is not on the FCAT.
Can you imagine what $254 million could do for the public schools? Then there are all of the millions corporations are writing off for tax credits so that their money can go to private and parochial schools! And we wonder why our public school budgets continue to be cut, cut, cut. What a disgrace.
Get rid of FCAT. Let the teachers do what they do best — teach. Please do not allow any more students to be neglected.
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater
In the beginning
I best remember Dennis Hopper before he was a rebel — if only on a snowy TV screen 55 years ago. He appeared on the first season of a seminal medical drama called Medic, starring Richard Boone — before "Dr. Konrad Styner" had a gun and was willing to travel.
Hopper's unforgettable performance aired on Jan. 3, 1955. The episode was called Boy in the Storm. Playing a well-scrubbed and sensitive teenager with epilepsy, Hopper was doubly tortured, first, by the disease itself, and second by the ignorance and prejudice of the '50s society. Hopper's sympathetic character and powerful portrayal of a grand mal seizure is still riveting. His seizure scene presaged the energy that was to characterize his roles.
The 25-minute episode can be viewed on the Web, and its public health message still holds up a half-century later.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg
Gulf oil spill
Priceless things in peril
President Barack Obama tells us BP will pay for cleaning up the spilled oil. BP tells us in their ads that they will "make things right."
But some things money just cannot make right. A way of life is disappearing. Livelihoods are being destroyed. No dollar amount will put breath back into an oiled, dying bird. No dollar amount can replace a day on the beach with our grandkids. Cold hard cash will not replace our warm white beaches. "Greenbacks" cannot restore our blue gulf waters.
These are the wonders that, as the credit card commercial says, are "priceless." These are the things BP has taken away from us.
Deborah Green, Sun City Center
D-day, June 6
I was really disappointed when I read the Sunday Times for June 6 and never saw one article about the D-day anniversary.
Only two times were any references made to this historic day and they were in, of all places, the comics section: Peanuts commemorating it, and a mention in Lio.
I can't believe that you would insult the memory of the thousands who died on that day. I guess it was more important to publicize soccer.
Bob Garton Sr., Largo
Respect was lacking
I found it distressing and in poor taste that the St. Petersburg Times chose not to commemorate D-day in the June 6 edition. Thank goodness that the comic page had Peanuts, showing the patriotic presence of the late Charles Schulz honoring honor our World War II veterans. I would expect the Times to show respect by mentioning this significant anniversary on the front page.
Paul E. Proue, Dade City