Working moms, sicker kids? | March 18
Time off for care hard to come by
The study in this article concludes that children of working mothers have a 200 percent higher risk of experiencing overnight hospitalizations due to asthma episodes, injuries or poisoning. The study goes so far as to suggest there are different temperaments and talents among mothers who work and those who don't, as if this may affect their children's health.
I am a mother who works part time, and from my perspective the reason why children of working moms may have more health problems is less complex. In our society, taking time off to deal with a sick child is not viewed upon favorably. Parents often "push their luck," sending children to school after giving them antifever medication, not because they don't know whether the child is sick but because they do not want to miss work. Being able to take a day off to make sure your child is mending is a luxury for many working parents.
At times this may result in a overnight hospital visit, since this can be accomplished without taking time off from work or because the condition was more serious than initially thought.
I find the study interesting, but would like to see it used for a discussion on how we can support families (not just mothers) in the workplace rather than to suggest that there is some fundamental difference in the ability to care for our children based on our choice to work or not.
Irma Witbreuk, St. Petersburg
'Sagging pants' bill passes House committee March 15
Criminals, not clothes
We don't blame mugging victims for their clothing or jewelry. We blame the mugger.
But state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, cites the case from Texas of an 11-year-old girl being gang raped "because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute." She adds: "I think it's incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn't happen to our students."
The problem wasn't the rape victim's clothing; the problem was with criminals thinking it is okay to take what they want from another person, whether from their wallet or their body.
Heidi Halsworth, Tampa
Therapy through theater | March 19
Value of the arts
When we hear talk of reducing or eliminating funding for the arts in our public schools, along comes a story like the one about Corey Kramer.
The drama club at Boca Ciega High School has helped this young man make friends, develop an identity, and improve his self-esteem. It's also doing the one thing his mother wished for when her son was small: that he would be happy.
As an educator, I am thrilled to see an article in your paper that illustrates the importance of the arts programs in our schools. All students, at all levels of ability, can benefit from these programs.
Barbara B. Booker, Land O'Lakes
A strike against safety
State Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey, is spearheading HB 4087 to "erase" the Mark Wendall Traffic Safety Act, the current law that sets statewide standards for the use of cameras at intersections to record vehicles violating traffic laws. His judgment that current law "goes too far" strikes me as illogical from public safety and economic points of view.
Who benefits from prohibiting the use of cameras to punish scofflaws? Not drivers and pedestrians who obey the law and expect others to do likewise. Not taxpayers who must foot the bill for other, currently unaffordable, ways to view dangerous, illegal behaviors. Not impressionable citizens, particularly the young, who infer that laws unenforced are nothing more than suggestions to be obeyed at one's own convenience.
Corcoran's efforts are inimical to the public good.
Phillip Martin, Gainesville
Against patient rights
A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that inadequate nurse staffing in hospitals increased the likelihood of patient deaths.
The Florida Nurses Association has sponsored a safe nurse staffing bill that would require hospitals to develop a collaborative council that would determine what is safe staffing for each hospital unit and requires hospitals to make public their staffing patterns so the public can be informed. Similar legislation has been enacted in several other states with great success.
At the request of hospital corporations, Florida legislators have amended the bill to make the collaborative councils ineffectual and remove all staffing disclosure requirements. Such action does nothing to protect the public and only continues to allow hospital organizations to put profit before patient safety. It also deprives patients of the basic ability to see if the hospital they are considering using has adequate nurse staffing.
Edward Briggs, St. Petersburg
Sums don't add up
I recently wrote a letter to my state legislators and Gov. Rick Scott urging them not to cut the education budget. Shortly thereafter, I received a reply from Warren Davis of the Governor's Office of Citizen Services.
His reply stated, "The governor's budget recommendations did not include any cuts to public education with the exception of one-time nonrecurring funds from the federal government."
I take exception to that explanation. Last year, when the temporary federal (Bush era) tax cuts were set to expire, Republicans had no problem calling that a tax increase. But when things are reversed, and the state proposes to spend the same amount for education as last year, the governor can't claim the state isn't reducing its education funding when he refuses to make up the difference to cover last year's federal money.
I urge the governor and the Legislature to explore every option, including elimination of dubious sales tax exemptions, to fill the hole in education funding.
Chuck Mura, Largo
Why are Republican lawmakers using educators as political scapegoats for an economic catastrophe that was caused by Wall Street thugs? Investment bankers, hedge fund managers and financial speculators swindled billions of dollars from the American public and taxpayers, and not one of them has been prosecuted or gone to jail.
In the meantime, educators are experiencing the wrath of an angry public. Educators did not cause the Great Recession; Wall Street criminals and their Republican supporters caused this financial disaster. Legislators must stop making educators and children pay the price for Wall Street's criminal behavior.
Nancy Catania, Wesley Chapel