Sunday, April 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Raising standards key for our children

Common Core State Standards

Higher standards are key

With attacks on the Common Core State Standards for education coming from both sides of the aisle, what are parents to think? I've heard that Common Core is President Barack Obama's agenda to indoctrinate our children. I've heard it's an unconstitutional federal takeover. I've even heard that it's a scheme to perform experiments nationwide on our next generation. After doing some research, I learned that none of those concerns holds water. The fact is, our kids need higher standards for education. Let's look at a couple of disconcerting facts from the perspective of a parent with two children attending a public charter school.

I found out that 40 percent of Florida's class of 2013 who took the college entrance exam were graded "not college ready" for any portion of the test, which is higher than the national average of 31 percent. As a parent, this has huge financial implications. If my children are part of these statistics, that means that I pay for remedial classes in college, something I simply cannot afford. As a taxpayer, I expect my child's diploma to mean that he or she actually succeeded in high school and can move right into college courses. Higher standards will mean the next generation is prepared for college or the workforce.

The United States has more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs vacant because there are not enough qualified people to fill them. Even though studies show much progress in Florida, such as the 21 percent increase in high school graduation rates between 1999 and 2010, we are not where we need to be. We must raise the bar; our children will meet those expectations once we work together and stop fighting one another.

While many of the concerns about Common Core are rooted in valid concerns about protecting our children's privacy and our state's freedom, the drama is misdirected when it comes to these new standards. One of the conservative sites I follow put out a top 10 list of reasons to oppose Common Core. It was not based on fact. So, as a conservative parent and supporter of Common Core, the question I raise to those who oppose it: Then what? What are your ideas to close the learning gap and make our state's and our nation's high school diplomas have real value? Show me how you plan to help students be college- and career-ready instead of attacking what state leaders adopted to help our students achieve success.

Wendy Howard, Trinity

Citizens may get a third smaller Aug. 31

Danger of going bust

Citizens wants to dump 400,000 policies to small, underfunded, inexperienced insurance companies who have a business plan to go broke when the first major storm appears. Why in the world can't the folks we send to Tallahassee find a way to bring the major carriers who have the money and the experience back to Florida?

We Floridians are going to end up paying when these small takeout companies go broke, so why not work with companies such as Allstate, Nationwide and State Farm to get them back in Florida writing new policies? It's not a matter of "if" it's a matter of "when" a storm hits.

Jim Cornwell, Tampa

With few allies, U.S. presses on Aug. 31

Taking a moral stand

I have not always agreed with President Barack Obama's policies, domestic or foreign, but I did vote for him twice because I believed that he was an unusual politician, a moral man, who would do what was right whether it was popular or not.

The "crimes against humanity" perpetrated by Bashar Assad in Syria need a moral response. If we are to remain a moral compass for the world, we must do what is right and not what is expedient. I don't care about threats from Syria, Iran or Russia, and I certainly don't care about the cowardly response from Britain.

Great presidents have stood up to evil before. I am not a war hawk. In fact, I'm a peacenik. But I support Obama as he stands for what is morally right instead of what is convenient and politically more popular.

Robert Clifford, Tarpon Springs

Strike not worth it

The administration's threat of an overt act of war against Syria defies simple logic as well as moral calculus. We rattle our saber now that 1,400 people are dead after a chemical attack. Why? Because the president painted an imaginary red line without thinking through the possible consequences.

He has painted himself into a corner, and us along with him. The logic and calculus problems are that we've waited to threaten action only after 1,400 died from chemicals. What about the tens of thousands dead from bombs and bullets? What is the moral distinction? None. If 1,400 newly dead are worth our going to war, why not the first 1,400?

The action we appear to be preparing won't help anything. "Sending a signal" is one of the least effective objectives of war. Placing our military and our regional allies at risk to send a signal isn't worth it. Backing a rebellion tainted by al-Qaida is idiotic.

Jim Clees, St. Petersburg

Scott jabs at Crist, taxes | Aug. 31

California dream

Gov. Rick Scott bashes the president and former Gov. Charlie Crist while he takes full credit for Florida's barely improving economy. Corporate tax cuts while decimating state services to ordinary citizens is Scott's and the Republican Legislature's only mantra for attracting jobs.

A lead article in the Aug. 29 issue of Rolling Stone examined Gov. Jerry Brown's record in California, another megastate that Scott has targeted for corporate relocations. Brown and a supermajority Democratic legislature have presided over a recovery from the Great Recession but using vastly different means. The $27 billion California state budget deficit in 2011 has become a $4.6 billion surplus expected for 2014. A tax surcharge for incomes over $1 million combined with some budget "tough love" all contributed to this budget turnaround.

Far from fighting the federal Environmental Protection Agency, California has a huge water aqueduct infrastructure project underway and leads the nation in alternative energy with many tax concessions to "green" businesses.

California gladly accepted the federal billions for Medicaid expansion and worked cooperatively to set up insurance exchanges that are ready to roll with lower average premiums. They expect to cover 95 percent of California's 37 million population. Meantime, almost 25 percent of Florida's adult population is without health insurance and our beautiful environment is rapidly being degraded.

Tony Branch, Madeira Beach


Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18

Wednesday’s letters:

Poverty and plenty in bay area | April 7, editorialStruggling poor are not a priorityI commend your newspaper for continuing to produce real and relevant news, particularly the recent editorial pointing out that a prospering Tampa Bay should not ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for April 20

Bar Association celebrates Law WeekPresident Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. Every year on this day, we reflect on the significance of the rule of law and rededicat...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Tuesday’s letters: Stop cooperating with ICE

Sheriff’s ICE policy blasted | April 10Pinellas should end partnership with ICEPinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri recently participated in a community conversation on his controversial agreement with ICE to voluntarily detain immigrants in the...
Published: 04/16/18

Sunday’s letters: The future of oyster production

Shell game | April 15Future of oyster productionThanks to Laura Reiley for an excellent synopsis of the current state of oyster production in Florida. The collapse of the Apalachicola oyster fishery is merely the latest example of the demise of a...
Published: 04/14/18

Monday’s letters: Public education is foundation of the nation

Voters beware of ballot deceptionApril 13, commentarySchools’ role underminedIt was with great pain that I read (not for the first time) that we must be aware of "ballot deception." Public schools were founded to make sure that future generations of ...
Published: 04/13/18

Saturday’s letters: Health Department should butt out

Judge: Grow pot, Mr. Redner | April 12Health officials should butt outThe Times reports that the Florida Department of Health filed an appeal to the decision allowing a man who is a Stage 4 lung cancer survivor to grow pot in his backyard for his ...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18