Friday, March 23, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Voucher students are tested for gains

Voucher claims due for testing | Dec. 14, editorial

Voucher students tested for gains

Florida's public education system is so rich with learning options that last year 1.3 million students chose something other than their assigned neighborhood school. So the debate about how best to hold these diverse programs accountable for student progress is important.

Unfortunately, the manner in which the Times questioned testing for one of those programs — a Tax Credit Scholarship for low-income students — was incomplete and misleading. While it is true scholarship students are not required to take the FCAT, that doesn't mean the test most of them take annually, the Stanford Achievement, is irrelevant. This test is considered the gold standard in national exams, and has now been administered for six years with two consistent findings: 1) The students choosing the scholarship were the lowest performers in their district schools; and 2) They are achieving the same test gains in reading and math as students of all incomes nationally.

The expansion of options such as magnet programs, charter schools, virtual schools and scholarships for low-income children strengthens public education. These options all undergo rigorous academic evaluation, and the new national Common Core standards will hopefully make comparative evaluations even easier for parents and the public.

Doug Tuthill, president, Step Up for Students, St. Petersburg

We've paid for safety net | Dec. 14, letters

Benefits can be canceled

We have been bamboozled, mainly by Democrats, with the attractive lie that Social Security is a paid-for insurance program run by the federal government and that we are assured (entitled to) our benefits. Untrue. In the 1960 case of Fleming vs. Nestor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workers have no legally binding contractual rights to their Social Security benefits, and that those benefits can be canceled at any time.

Charles Palmer, Lutz

Anti-union law breaks hearts and backs Dec. 14, commentary

Keeping wages low

Dean Bakapoulos' article points to the fallacy that right-to-work legislation provides freedom to workers when the opposite is true. It is beyond serious debate that the GOP's anti-union laws playing out in several states are meant to suppress or destroy unions. Why? Because this depresses wages and benefits to increase the bottom line, not to mention muffling the unions' political voice.

Those critical of unions have never needed one. Those who support them must stay constantly involved to counter such potentially destructive political agendas.

Wayne Logsdon, Hernando

Rice decides to back down | Dec. 14

Public servant smeared

The Republicans can congratulate themselves on another successful Swiftboat smear operation. Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte have discredited an innocent and worthwhile American servant. Susan Rice has impeccable credentials for the office of secretary of state and has given exemplary service to the country.

The really horrible intelligence failure was the one that sent us to Iraq, resulting in the deaths of 4,000 Americans and countless many more Iraqis. I didn't hear a squawk from the good senators then.

Lorraine Madison, St. Petersburg

Connecticut school killings

Guns don't make us safer

I am not satisfied with the failure of the White House and Congress to enact meaningful gun control in our country. Living in a state where 1 million of my neighbors carry concealed weapons does not make me proud.

We have many times the number of guns per citizen than other major nations. If more guns or concealed carry permits would make us safer, we would be the safest nation in the world. Instead, thousands of our citizens die every year due to gun violence.

Operating a car or an airplane requires rigorous testing, licensing and insurance. Owning a gun should require no less.

Steven Zeledon Sr., Ridge Manor

Three key changes

We need to take three critical steps to end this carnage.

First, ban semiautomatic weapons and weapons designed only to kill other people, and limit how much ammunition a person can purchase. Second, do a better job of identifying individuals who may be prone to violence and keep weapons out of their hands. Third, work at changing the violence-prone culture in this county. We immerse our children in violence through video games, movies and television. That has to change.

Sharon Moehle, Dunedin

Guns too easily available

The day after the horrendous massacre in a Connecticut elementary school, the Times ran an editorial with suggestions on how to stem gun violence. One proposal was to have Congress close the federal loophole that allows the purchase of handguns at gun shows without the required background checks. In the same edition, the newspaper ran 29 separate classified ads offering handguns for sale — no three-day waiting period, ID or background check needed.

Vince Cocks, St. Petersburg

Treat mental illness

The Newtown, Conn., shootings bring to the front two issues. One we won't have easy solutions for: gun ownership and gun control. But for the other issue — mental health disease and its treatment — we do have solutions. We have never done mental health programs well, but in 1980s we decided to drastically reduce funding for treatment programs or not to do support them at all.

Mental health disease is devastating. But just the same as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, it can be treated. Until we decide that mental health disease is well worth treating, we will continue to suffer preventable consequences.

Rick France, Tampa

Teachers should be armed

In light of a seeming epidemic of violence at schools, it would be wise to arm teachers with guns with instruction on how to use them. If that were the case, a criminal could be stopped before killing innocent children.

Lets face it, criminals will always have access to guns. It is the good people who need to have them in order to protect themselves, their families and especially our schoolchildren.

Shirley Volkert, Spring Hill


Friday’s letters: Think through assault weapons ban

Gun controlThink through assault rifle banI recently emailed a Florida state representative who had pledged, among other things, to ban assault rifles in the state. I asked him if he would ban the sale and transfer of these guns or ultimately make th...
Published: 03/22/18

Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Published: 03/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18