To educate for the future, pay now | Jan. 17
Science centers help fill the gap
This article concerning the cost of a STEM education was provocative to say the least. There is no denying that the consequences of ignoring the "STEM gap" are daunting, but the costs of filling that gap need to be addressed.
Science centers have often found themselves facilitating public-private partnerships that advance the community outreach needs of private enterprise, satisfy a need for quality STEM education and fulfill the organization's mission to advance science learning. One such example takes place at the Orlando Science Center.
The Orlando Utilities Commission wanted a community outreach program that delivered a water conservation and renewable energy message to children. A partnership was created that combined the commission's content expertise with the strength of the Science Center in delivering science concepts in an engaging way.
Now in its third year, this effort has impacted more than 20,000 fifth-graders in Orange and Osceola county school districts. Students now better understand these issues and have more positive attitudes toward science. Companies like Northrop Grumman, Siemens and J.P. Morgan Chase have also taken on STEM-focused projects with the Science Center.
While the cost of STEM education can be high, the burden of funding these programs does not need to fall solely on the school systems or taxpayers. Innovative companies, educational systems and organizations like science centers can work together to provide services that help ensure that future generations are competitive in a world economy.
JoAnn Newman, president and CEO, Orlando Science Center
Fiery fight for Florida | Jan. 24
Abramoff would recognize
Gingrich's debate reply
In Monday's debate, Mitt Romney tried to make the case that Newt Gingrich and the companies that he owned had received $1.6 million from Freddie Mac for lobbying and influence-peddling.
The Gingrich reply was that the payment was not for lobbying but for consulting. If Romney had only read Lucy Morgan's column ("Abramoff's harsh plan to clean up Congress") in Monday's Tampa Bay Times, he would have been able to effectively use convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's observation that "congressmen know better than anyone how to get around a ban on lobbying. They 'consult.' "
Palmer O. Hanson Jr., Largo
Support for living wills
Something refreshing happened at Tampa's Republican presidential debate. Each of the candidates took a similar position on a hot-button health care issue.
The candidates voiced support for living wills that allow all adults to make health care decisions ahead of a crisis. These decisions are best made by patients, families and caregivers — not the courts, not the health care payers, and not bureaucratic systems.
Florida has long been a leader in this effort by offering a better option for families considering living wills: a document that focuses on the issues of comfort and dignity, and a document that is easy to understand and use. All Americans, regardless of political affiliation, can support improving end-of-life care and honoring patient decisions.
Paul Malley, president, Aging with Dignity, Tallahassee
Rejecting pipeline is an act of national insanity | Jan. 20, commentary
Don't ignore the aquifer
Robert Samuelson's diatribe on the Keystone XL pipeline misses a vital point. The pipeline was rejected because of its route over a very important aquifer. In fact, this route was strenuously objected to by Nebraskans (as in the people and the politicians), and that is why it was originally delayed.
It was delayed so that TransCanada could find another route and was killed because the 60-day deadline that the Republicans imposed allowed no time to find another route. If TransCanada can find another route, it can resubmit the paperwork and thank the Republicans for the added expense.
Where Samuelson came up with the idea that the administration killed it to stop tar sand development is beyond me.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
$288M for customers | Jan. 21
Forced into compromise
Kudos to Ivan Penn and the Tampa Bay Times for shining the spotlight on Progress Energy's attempts to bill customers for the company's mismanaging repairs at the Crystal River plant, as well as future costs for a proposed nuclear plant in Levy County. Only the utility's reluctance to face a public hearing has forced it to compromise.
Arlene Kline, St. Petersburg
Win some, lose some
So our $288 million refund will only cost us $5 a month! How lucky we are to live in such a fair and honest state.
Ronald Foster, Clearwater
Court backs dismissal of Taj Mahal case Jan. 18
Not a moot point
Not on the front page, but just in back of the obituaries was an item stating that the Florida Supreme Court has approved the state judicial ethics panel's dismissal of its case against former chief judge Paul M. Hawkes. The reason? They found this to be a moot case now that the judge has resigned.
According to my dictionary, moot means "a matter of no importance," and this I do not understand as the judge is still drawing on state retirement benefits even after the people of Florida were led, against their knowledge, into supporting the building of a $49 million courthouse.
This is not a moot point to me. Monies were wasted, and there should be some compensation.
Peggy Bernard, Oldsmar
Florida's economy turning around Jan. 22, commentary
Numbers don't lie
How can Gov. Rick Scott state with a straight face that "there is no better way to judge the direction of Florida's economy" since he took office than by consulting job creation figures? He promised us 700,000 jobs, as I recall. He states that 140,000 jobs have been created.
And "prioritizing transportation"? Really? He refused $2.5 billion in federal aid for high-speed rail just to snub the president.
Christopher J. Gerber, St. Petersburg