Editor: Recently widowed, I took my daughter and granddaughter out for dinner on a recent Saturday evening. My granddaughter was rather withdrawn compared to her typical, 8-year-old firecracker self. She would only eat a side of corn on the cob, and rather than participate in general conversation she quietly doodled with crayons.
When I asked why my granddaughter was so reserved, I was told she was nervous about the upcoming FCATs. The mere mention of the tests gave her a stomachache. We left shortly after.
The following Monday morning I drove her to school. She barely spoke other than to tell me her teachers had told her how important it was that the kids do well. She said some teachers had told her that the school was depending on her and her friends to make sure they would have school supplies. My granddaughter, to be blunt, is a nervous wreck over these farcical FCATs.
Letter writers like Mrs. Haskell argue ad hominem that the Times is somehow exacerbating the anxiety felt by our kids over these tests. That is pure folly. People like her who argue for this governor's ridiculous testing system are grossly misled by their conservative base.
I don't believe it is possible to quantify the potential of 8-year-old children with this test. It is obvious that the teachers, rather than educating generally, will be too tempted to teach specifically to this test, denying our kids an all-around education.
I don't believe children should bear the responsibility of having school funding cut, considering that the governor and a Republican-controlled Legislature have done a deplorable job of financial husbandry for this state and its institutions. Now, with the governor's "devious" plan unfolding _ scrapping social and education programs so he can ignore the consensus (and the law) of the people and appease his wealthy friends by giving an ill-afforded tax break of hundreds of millions of dollars _ there will be less money for education tools to raise FCAT standards, thus leading to funding cuts. It's a Catch-22.
The governor would like us to revisit the voting booths to reconsider the class size amendment and the railway issue. I have no objection to that whatsoever if he will allow us to revisit the issue of his tenure as governor.
I think a lot of Jeb Bush voters have their heads in their hands asking themselves what they have done by electing such a mercenary figure who seems bent on eviscerating the foundations of our education system.
Chuck Zimoski, Spring Hill
Meaning of "diversity'
Editor: Re: New principals bring talent, diversity to district, March 10 Times:
Hernando school superintendent Wendy Tellone refers to her past three principal appointments as a way to create diversity in our schools. On her path to her Ph.D., she must have neglected to learn the true definition of diverse: 1. different 2. varied.
She fails to mention the total number of candidates for these three positions and the proportion of white candidates to minority candidates. In the three schools the population of minority students was 14.2 percent, so I must assume that the three appointees represented 14.3 percent of the candidates. I assume this because she obviously is a politically correct person.
Tellone also states that after she selected the best candidates, they "just happened" to add to the diversity of her staff. Since it is the season, Ms. Tellone, please tell us also that there really is an Easter Bunny.
Walter G. Tournat, Spring Hill
Peace Corps inspires
Editor: In order to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the Peace Corps, I recently had the opportunity to speak to students at Gulf Middle School. Each year thousands of former volunteers make presentations about Peace Corps Day as part of what we call bringing the world back home. Even though I served 24 years ago (in Paraguay), I fondly remember the experience and friends I made.
A vast number of people in the world have gained their image of America through meeting Peace Corps volunteers. Volunteers promote cross-cultural understanding by integrating themselves into their host communities and forming close bonds with those they serve. From Armenia to Vanuatu, Peace Corps volunteers build bridges across cultures _ bridges to tolerance, friendship and ultimately peace.
The Peace Corps' global education program, Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools, offers a variety of educational materials designed to engage students in grades 3-12 in inquiry about the world. Gulf Middle School is involved in that program, and the students were enthusiastic to learn more.
As the Peace Corps moves into the 21st century, President Bush has challenged the organization to double its number of volunteers over the next five years. Hopefully, that will give many more Americans the opportunity to learn firsthand how much we have in common with people everywhere.
I would love to hear from other nearby ex-volunteers or those interested in the Peace Corps. Call 666-6628.
Jerry Krebs, Spring Hill
Don't listen to rhetoric
of a failed competitor
Editor: Citizens of the 5th Congressional District should disregard letter writer Brian Moore's criticisms of U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite as the shameless rhetoric of a failed competitor who is upset because he doesn't have a bully pulpit from which to dictate his liberal views to the rest of us.
When residents united to stand in support of our troops, Mr. Moore disgracefully used it as an opportunity to protest. Now, he's criticizing Rep. Brown-Waite because she didn't hold a town hall meeting that accommodated his schedule or his agenda. He attacks the "ghostlike empty town of Brooksville" because his posse of antiwar protesters doesn't live there, and claims that 7 p.m. on a Wednesday in Brooksville City Hall is not at "a decent hour and in a familiar and more accessible location."
His criticisms are baseless, insulting and driven by Mr. Moore's vanity. Had he attended the meeting, he would have heard an articulate man from Germany tell his life story about how grateful he was to have the Americans join in the liberation of his country and rid the world of a brutal dictator. His firm belief was that the American government is absolutely correct in its efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein. He compared Hitler to Hussein.
Perhaps had Mr. Moore heard this compelling story, he would have a different view of the need for military strength in Iraq.
Rep. Brown-Waite should be commended for her constituent outreach during the first few months in office. Not only has she kept an open door, but she has reached out to her constituents in every county with her listening tour and frequent public appearances.
It is refreshing to see a public servant who engages our communities with honesty, openness and vigor.
Ana Trinque, chairman
Hernando County Republican Party