Padded grades still fall | July 27
Low expectations plague schools
I think it is long overdue that we, as a society, take a hard look at the 800-pound gorilla in the classroom. Specifically, the role that parents and students must shoulder in the public education system.
The state education commissioner, Gates Foundation and whoever else can test and evaluate teachers and school administrations forever. If the results don't change, then they will change the measurement criteria. As your article quotes, the decline in school grades is a result of increased expectations. It seems that a majority of parents and students are perfectly content with low expectations.
I would like to see some realistic, confidential feedback on this subject from area teachers printed in your newspaper. They are on the public education front line. Teachers and school administrators cannot and should not be held solely responsible for declining school grades.
David Cardina, Tampa
Padded grades still fall | July 27
Expect more from students
The reason "padded grades still fall" is obvious. The students quickly figure out that the system is being gamed and act accordingly by doing the minimum they can to get by. When they are held to high standards, they perform better.
I crashed into this "brick wall" many years ago when I taught science at Buchanan Junior High School and was ordered to send final exams in to the school system to be "curved." When the "curve" came back, giving an exam score of 50 percent a passing grade of D, I got mad and made an appointment to see Walter Sickles, Hillsborough superintendent of schools, and complained. I told him that we could not lie to the public like that; that we were not doing the students any favors by letting them skate; that if you accept less, they will do less. He nodded a lot, but didn't say much. It was like punching a marshmallow and, of course, my efforts were fruitless.
I must add that I was already a military retiree and could afford to risk losing my teaching position. Nothing happened. The French have a saying that translates to: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I am 80 and still angry. Don't blame the teachers for a system that is failing them, their students, their parents and the public.
Joseph F. Bohren, Odessa
Scott stands ground on law | July 29
More tragedies looming
A tourist walks into a bar. The young professional, perhaps German or British, is having a good time and drinks a beer or three too many. He gets into a bar fight and his opponent, this being Florida, is armed and shoots the tourist dead.
The shooter is set free after invoking "stand your ground." Later on we see the young widow in front of the news cameras, surrounded by her two children, telling the world in her lovely accent about that awful place that allowed her children to lose their father and let the murderer walk free. This hasn't happened yet. Is that what it's going to take to get rid of this unnecessary, murderous law?
Pablo Rottenberg, Temple Terrace
Stroke death prompts state inquiry | July 27
Failure of authorities
My heart goes out to the family of Allen Hicks Sr. Not only did this man suffer a massive stroke but a total lack of sympathy and good judgment from the Hillsborough County jail system. Common sense should have told the arresting officer something was wrong when the man was unable to speak or move his left side. But he was then thrown into a cell and on the floor for 36 hours lying in his own urine?
This kind of thing unfortunately happens when you let a subpar company come in with minimally trained employees. I guess you get what you pay for.
The state of Florida needs to go back to the days when deputies transported inmates and a registered nurse examined all the intakes. If not, I am afraid we will be reading more of these kind of stories.
Jennifer Little, Largo
Mosaic pumps water to dilute waste | July 21
Abuse of resources
I give up. If Mosaic is pumping 70 million gallons a day from our aquifer (and returning polluted water to streams in its place), how can it matter if I turn off the water while I brush my teeth, or collect rainwater to use on my garden?
This is such an egregious abuse of public resources, and it is allowed by the fine folks at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. We have given away the farm.
Laura Vickers, Tampa
Skyway project seeks footing | July 7
The proposed "land swap" agreement relating to the fragile Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve once again puts citizens in a losing position. Developers of this proposal will build a bayfront resort with condos, a restaurant, hotel and private residences in addition to a marina and Tahiti-style bungalows on pilings.
The decisionmakers in this process are the staff of the Division of State Lands, but our own governor, attorney general and the remainder of the Cabinet will make the final decision. This is a deal made in heaven for the developers, who will get premium property for almost nothing. Citizens take heed — write and call everyone and try to turn the tide on this pending "land swap."
Martha Hodge, Tampa
Fair of fantasy | July 28
Admirable young people
Last weekend I took my 17-year-old niece to the Metrocon anime convention in Tampa. Thousands attended, dressed in their favorite animation costumes, and enjoyed a spirit of togetherness and love for all things anime, including but not limited to Japanese pop music, animated cartoons, art and video games.
The majority, it appeared to me, were aged 12-21. They truly exemplified all things good in people. They were friendly, accepting, polite and inquisitive. I witnessed them say "excuse me" and "sorry" when bumping into people. I witnessed those in line making friends and asking each other about their costumes and games.
Every day we read in the paper some awful thing some teenager does, but what I saw last weekend was hope. I witnessed the good youth has to offer. Every one of their parents should be proud.
Nannette Worlinsky, St. Petersburg