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Seminole kids don't deserve Times' "bum rap'

Re: Rich kids, cool cars at Seminole High, Feb. 9.

You can't be serious. There, along with front-page reports on the Olympics and Mike Tyson, and Wilbur Landrey's insightful report filed from Russia, is an article about Seminole High students driving better cars than the teachers. Is this startling revelation, however, worthy of a front-page layout? Not on a bet.

When I went to Erie Academy High (Pennsylvania) in the late '50s, the situation was the same. And the students at Southside Catholic High (Pittsburgh), where I taught in the early '70s, drove better cars than the teachers, and I parked my rusty Peugeot 404 next to their TransAms. Where has Wilma Norton been?

So, it must be some tongue-in-cheek spoof, I thought. Wrong again. The article was straight-forward social commentary. The selected quotes from Jade Moore were used to shore up arguments that the taxation system is skewed (another startling revelation) and to prove that teachers need raises.

Distribute this article to high school debate classes, please. They'll have fun with it. It is fraught with illogical thinking, heavily value-laden and rests upon non-sequiturs.

Unfortunately, there is a negative side to this trivial article. Not only does it suggest these students don't deserve to drive good cars, but it also suggests there's something basically wrong with their value systems. And what has happened is that Seminole High students have become objects of derision by students from other schools.

Let's get it straight. There's nothing wrong with these kids. Youth has always gone through stages of superficiality and experimentation along the range of values in the American social construct. (Hasn't changed much; read Aristotle's commentary on youth _ but then it was chariots.)

Society teaches. Students learn. This is a society based on consumption, conspicuous or otherwise, and much of our value system appears to be crass and materialistic. Time, maturity, education and guidance will help rearrange these priorities.

Seminole High has some of the brightest, most active, civic-minded and hard-working students in the Tampa Bay region. And they've already learned some of those basics that America was founded on: If you want something and can afford it, go for it; if you can't afford it, work _ work hard _ and then go get it.

These kids don't deserve the bum rap you gave them; I work with them and think they're great.

Gilbert V. Gott, Executive Director,

Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce

My reaction and response to your article about what cars the kids at Seminole High School are driving is: So what?

In case you can't see past your ultra-liberal noses, this is a free country and a capitalist economy. Despite that, as usual, you focus only on the negatives.

Those same kids you decry may also be honor students, drug-free and hard-working in and after school. And, their parents may also be hard-working, decent people. Why didn't you balance your story?

I have no association with Seminole High but I do with Countryside High, where there are many similar kids _ good kids who don't deserve to be made targets as you've just done to the Seminole students. Did you consider that? I seriously doubt it.

Finally, a comment to Mr. Moore of the PCTA: Grow up and "get a life"! No one drafted you to be a teacher.

Richard J. Nicholson, Clearwater

I do hope you plan a follow-up story on Rich kids, cool cars As a private tutor and former teacher, I see the underlying results of cool cars, rich kids. In reality the cars may be cool, but the kids in most cases are supporting this habit by working too many long hours on school nights. By Florida law, a 16-year-old is able to work approximately 30 hours a week. These hours are often averaged over four or five days, requiring six or more hours at or near the close of the school day, leaving homework and study to begin near 10 p.m. on a school night.

If the cool ride was the school bus, look at the results: more time for study, fewer teen-age accidents, maybe higher SAT scores.

Donna Smith, Largo

Re: Rich kids, cool cars at Seminole High, Feb. 9.

I would like to commend Jade Moore for his honesty in the above article by Wilma Norton. I quote from that article: "I guess parents who are free from having to pay adequate taxes in Florida have plenty of money to spend on cars for their kids. If we had that same amount of money to spend on schools, maybe we could give teachers raises so they could buy better cars."

Now we are finding out the real reason why more money should go to schools.

Teaching was their chosen profession. If they want to drive Corvettes, they should get into a different line of work, preferably the same as their students' parents.

This is a capitalistic society. It is based on the freedom to achieve as much as possible. I make much less than a teacher and I don't condemn the rich. I congratulate them on their success. By the way, I own my home and have two vehicles, one of which is almost new. Maybe with some better financial planning, these jealous educators could enjoy some of the finer things in life that even we blue-collar workers do.

David M. Hollingsworth, St. Petersburg

Some great cartoonists

I like Don Addis; think he's great.

I also like Clay Bennett's cartoons.

But .

.

. I know what a "barf bag" is, but a "barf purse?" (Pat Oliphant cartoon, Feb. 9). I love Pat Oliphant _ the greatest!

Garth Freeman, Lecanto

.

.

. and columnist

Re: Eat your heart out, Hallmark, Feb. 14, by Howard Troxler.

Your limericks left me solemn,

As I read, that's how I call 'em,

The meter was poor,

Your subjects a boor,

Suggest you simply write, column.

Just kidding, Troxler's my favorite St. Petersburg Times columnist.

Donald A. Tabbutt, Largo

An award for Young

The Nathan Davis Award is presented annually by the American Medical Association (AMA) as its highest honor. Named after the founder of the AMA, the award recognizes excellence in the area of government service for health care. As mentioned in the St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 6, Pinellas County's own Rep. C.

W. Bill Young was selected as one of this year's recipients of the award.

As the one who placed Rep. Young's name into nomination, I can tell you that he received this honor because of his personal courage and the vigor with which he pursued health-care legislation. His most notable accomplishment was the establishment of the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Without Rep. Young's tireless work in Congress, there would be no registry, and without a registry, there would be no hope for the thousands of Americans who would die from leukemia and 60 other fatal disorders without a bone marrow transplant.

In presenting the award to Rep. Young, the AMA also acknowledged his work to dramatically increase federal support for childhood vaccination programs, to fund important new programs to provide emergency medical services for uninsured children and to guarantee quality medical care for our nation's senior citizens and veterans.

Health professionals from across the nation endorsed his nomination and recognized that without Rep. Young's persistent support of these and other programs, many Americans would be denied access to the very latest in medical advances. As citizens of the 8th Congressional District of Florida, we should join the AMA in its grateful recognition of all that Rep. Young has done for the health and well-being of our nation.

Bruce A. Epstein, M.D., St. Petersburg

Actions 'outrageous'

V.A. Secretary Edward J. Derwinski has proposed allowing non-veterans to be treated in V.A. medical facilities. This is an outrage.

Knowing you, dear editor, I do not think you will condone this dastardly conceived atrocity.

Please do not leave a stone unturned in your effort to persuade Secretary Derwinski to change his mind.

Veterans hospitals means just that, and no one should be treated therein except Honorably Discharged Veterans.

Frank William Arrigo, Clearwater

I am concerned about my country and its present state of affairs.

I, like so many millions of Americans, love my country and want to see it as it should be.

I proudly served my country as a U.S. Marine and would at any given time serve again if and when called. But I believe my concern is well founded when I see or hear my fellow veterans being turned away for service or treatment because of budget cuts in our veteran affairs. But with the same stroke of the pen hundreds of millions of dollars are leaving America to care for others.

We have homeless, hungry and sick Americans who need help, but they, too, are sent away or ignored while millions of American dollars are spent to feed, house, educate and heal others not here in America.

I feel my concern is well founded when hundreds of thousands of people come into this country while the American people pay the bill again and again.

When the foreign markets are allowed to exploit the American marketplace and the American job market, I fear for the future.

I lost an 18-year career with the auto industry because of such a market.

I have seen and still see American families lose everything because it seems, our government would rather allow this rape of America than confront it.

If something is not done to correct this soon, I fear we will be, if not already, poised on the brink of "The United States of America, a subsidiary of .

.

."

The bonds and securities held by other countries are sold to them to pay our bills, yet we still give others money and again the American people pay for more and more and get less and less.

Our senior citizens, some veterans and some war heroes, most reduced in ability, find that their "golden" years are anything but "golden."

There are those who cannot afford heat in the winter or cooling in the summer. Some must supplement their meals with pet food or go hungry. Some must remain sick or die before their time because they cannot afford a doctor's care or medication or needed surgery.

Yet, we are told by our government how compassionate and necessary it is to help the people of the world.

I do not ask that our government turn its back on the world, only that it not look over its shoulder at America.

Peter P. Tamburri, Dunedin

Change, but not for the better

The Feb. 13 front-page story headlined, Bush formally enters campaign, says "we can change America' is puzzling. I thought he'd already changed our country, and that's why it's in such deep trouble.

Lee Di Angelo, St. Petersburg

Your Feb. 13 article was very interesting. But the statement that Bush said, "We can change America': I think he already has _ from bad to worst.

J.

A. Ptacek, Largo

Poor drivers not all in Fla.

Re: Recent letter on winter visitor driving.

May I give the letter writer some statistics very recently released by the National Safety Council? Drivers between the ages of 65 and 74 are least likely to be involved in fatal accidents. Florida is the eighth most deadly, with 2.7 deaths per 100-million miles. The national average is 2.2. Massachusetts and Rhode Island (home of many horrible snowbirds) have the fewest: 1.3. I have driven in all 50 states, most of them many times. Name a city and I have probably been there.

I had to come to Florida to learn that when a traffic light turns yellow, it means go like h---. Twenty percent of Florida cars would be off the road in New York State (my home state) because they wouldn't pass an inspection. If you don't pay your insurance when due, the insurance company is required by law to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles and a trooper will shortly call on you and take your license plates.

All states, including Florida, have good, mediocre and poor drivers.

Harold M. Williams, Largo

Share your opinions

Address letters for publication to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731.

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