Thursday, June 21, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Education is more than job training

Plan revamps path for grads | April 13

Education more than job training

Florida legislators, with their initiative for two separate designations for high school diplomas, once again illustrate a distorted focus on what's truly important for educating our young people.

This concept is ill-conceived on so many levels it is hard to understand how educators and more importantly superintendents think the plan has "merit" — merit being the name of one of the designated diplomas.

When did our educators start believing that we should create what basically could be called a caste system in education? The idea of separating students into "scholar" and "merit" is a not-so-subtle methodology of putting students on a track and making decisions on their future before their education even begins. This is a very dangerous road to travel. If we can start tracking them in high school, why not test them in pre-K and elementary and get them headed in the direction the Legislature would like them to go?

What has happened to the basic idea of a sound, well-balanced curriculum that challenges and involves students and prepares them for planning their own futures? Why have we allowed the power of the business community to control and map out the future for our students based only on the principle of preparing them for their first job?

Regardless of the latest idea from the newest consultant, we need teachers who are competent and are offered a wage that will attract the best and the brightest out of college to pursue a career in education.

Tom Flora, Clearwater

Immigration plan sets 2011 as cutoff to qualify | April 13

The honor system?

This article states that a cutoff to qualify for citizenship would be arrival before Dec. 31, 2011. Do we have a sheet at our borders that illegals sign when they cross the border?

How else would we know when they crossed, except for their own testimony? Of course they would never lie to authorities.

Benjamin Vecchio, Largo

As girl heals, experts offer hope | April 13

Check for safety feature

A tragic accident to befall a small child brings to mind the safe operation of a riding mower.

My rider will not operate in reverse with the mowing deck engaged. Many times, I have stalled when reversing without disengaging the deck. An interlock prevents this occurrence. This is probably a required safety feature.

If you own a rider, you should verify that this feature is operable.

Charles Grubbs, Valrico

Long agonizing path to kill a killer April 13, Sue Carlton column

High cost of vengeance

Sue Carlton paints the expensive and tortured pathway to execute Oscar Ray Bolin. This is a classic illustration of the futility and cost society bears for the death penalty. We remain one of the few countries of the world that executes our criminals. Others include China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen.

Project Innocence's research resulted in 18 innocent people recently being released from death row. Since 1930, more than 140 innocent people have been released from America's death rows. Left unstated were the number of innocent people executed. This abundance of caution in the American justice system is a huge cost, yet innocent people are still convicted and executed.

A recent study in California concluded that the cost of the death penalty in that state has totaled over $4 billion since 1978.

If California's governor commuted the sentences of those now on death row to life without parole, this would result in an immediate savings of $170 million per year, with a savings of $5 billion over the next 20 years. Who knows what savings might occur if all states did so.

If we replaced the death penalty with life without parole, the billions of savings could be applied to more socially beneficial projects.

America's insistence on rigid adherence to an ancient biblical injunction, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," is a huge waste of precious resources better used for other things to improve our society, not to extract vengeance.

Jay Hall, Tampa

On budget, breaking through gridlock April 14, Tim Nickens column

For a permanent fix

I agree that both Democrats and Republicans need to back off their dogmatic budget proposals and accept a balanced approach. I was particularly pleased with Tim Nickens' comment on fixing Social Security: He said that President Barack Obama's concession on using a modified cost-of-living adjustment to help control costs needed to be combined with raising the cap on income subject to the payroll tax.

That's a good suggestion, but a better approach would be to eliminate the cap, just as the cap on the Medicare tax was eliminated many years ago. Unfortunately, eliminating that cap then didn't fix Medicare because of the rapid escalation in health care costs. Social Security costs, on the other hand, have a different set of dynamics, and eliminating the cap would permanently fix that part of the budget quagmire.

Jerry Stephens, Riverview

Father of improv | April 13

Laughter and sadness

It's the end of an era. Jonathan Winters, along with Red Skelton, were masters of their art. I grew up loving them for their wit and sincerity.

Red could never tell a joke without laughing himself, or at himself. He was the embodiment of a little red-haired elf, who we all loved for his simplicity and honesty as well as his comedy.

Jonathan, who could never look at an object or hear a word with out finding the hidden, hysterical meanings in them, was never at a loss for giving us a good clean and hearty laugh.

These men inspired many others through the years, who have tried to copy them, their "characters" and their style. Yet who among those followers have kept to the high standards of creativity that Red and Jonathan laid down?

We are saddened, and sadder as an audience, for their passing.

Nancy Frederich, Madeira Beach


Thursday’s letters: On immigration there has to be a better way

‘Zero tolerance’ ignites outrage | June 20Find better way on immigrationOver the years I’ve voted for candidates from both parties. My observation of the Trump administration’s policy on immigration is not about politics. It has to do with having...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18

Wednesday’s letters: Charters and traditional public schools each have their place

Public school as public good | Letter, June 17Both kinds of schools can workAs a mother and grandmother of children raised in both traditional public and charter schools in Pinellas County (and a 25-year supporting-services employee for public sc...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Is anyone watching the money?Hernando County’s budget shortfall is ever changing going from $6 million to $11.5 million to $14 million to what is assumed a final number of $12.6 million. Who knows the budget shortfall could change again.Who’s watchi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Re: County OKs solar zones | June 8Plea ignored at solar plant hearingThe Pasco County Commission on June 5 voted to identify a utility-sized solar electric plant as a "special exception" use on agricultural-zoned land in Pasco County. What thi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

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: 06/18/18

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