1. Archive

Student's letter shows lack of respect for authority

Published Aug. 28, 2005

Re: Many school rules not enforced, letter by Mary Moran, Sept. 17.

I have been following the letters to the editor about the Dunedin High student and her cell phone. Before I make my comments I would like to qualify my knowledge on the issues. After serving the citizens of Clearwater for 23 { years as a firefighter/paramedic, I retired so I could go to school full time to become a teacher in the public school system. I am currently in my junior year at St. Petersburg College and I am a substitute teacher in the middle and high schools. My wife is also a teacher.

I would first like to thank Miss Moran for writing the letter and removing all doubt about what she is made of. It doesn't make any difference whether you think it is a stupid rule and you should not have to obey it. The bottom line is the School Board has set the rules and you need to follow them. If you do not agree with the rules, there are avenues to take to get them changed.

The School Board has allowed cell phones in the schools since the violence that occurred in several schools around the nation. The rule is that they are to be out of sight and turned off. It is disruptive when phones ring. It is also disruptive when a class must be interrupted because a student like you has chosen not to follow the rules.

Why do students have their cell phones out? I have had parents call students during class, and students call other students, friends, employers and family members in class and between classes. But the biggest offender is text messaging, which they use to text each other, sometimes in the same class, but many times students in other classes, disrupting two classes.

Finally, there are some who use text messaging to cheat on tests. Parents, it is amazing to me that your students can have more than $200 worth of electronics in their backpack in cell phones, CD players and CDs along with food and drink, but do not have a pencil, paper, their books or their homework. Are they there to learn or play?

Bottom line in all of this, Miss Moran, is be mature, stand up and take responsibility for your actions and change your behavior until you can get the rule changed.

I am sure from my experience in the school system that your comments about the smoking in school bathrooms is inflated. I realize it is a constant problem and has been for decades, but what are you doing about the issue of teen smoking?

I agree that what some students choose to wear to school is offensive to many. My opinion is that if they have to keep pulling at their clothes to keep themselves covered, then they are probably not wearing enough. It is a difficult rule to enforce, and until the parents of these students take action to ensure that the clothes their students buy and wear meet the rules and are the proper size, there will continue to be a problem.

Finally, Miss Moran, your entire letter is disrespectful to the adult you addressed, and I suspect you probably treat other adults in the same fashion. What are your priorities? It does not appear that education, following the rules and being respectful to your elders fit in there anywhere.

Lawrence Browett, Largo

School problems not so easy to solve

Re: Unhappy with Dunedin High? You're free to pick another, letter by Michelle Hale, Sept. 20; Many school rules not enforced, letter by Mary Moran, Sept. 17; School's rules have merit, letter by Christopher White, Sept. 13; and Dunedin High chooses which rules to enforce, letter by Keith Works, Sept. 2.

I must point out that some things change and some do not. What Ms. Hale fails to realize is that these problems are a pandemic spreading through most, if not all, schools, and that these problems do not often relate to the status quo that was apparent in schools decades ago.

Ms. Hale went to Dunedin High School, but that was 20 years ago. We have different problems now. For example, in 1965 students in Des Moines, Iowa, faced expulsion for wearing black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. It was commonplace for young adults and adolescents to protest the war.

In our era, it is common to have a cell phone and to wear it. If the phone is not on and the student is not playing with it, making calls with it, or otherwise utilizing it in a disruptive manner, there is no problem. Some may argue the phones themselves are inherently disruptive, for if a student is in possession of a nice phone, a classmate might remark, "What kind of phone is that?" However, those who lean upon that argument should oppose the ever popular "Live Strong" wristbands that have been popularized by American cyclist Lance Armstrong. These bands, in addition to countless other wardrobe fashions, trends and fads, are allowed in the public school system.

As for cutting in line at lunch being an elementary school complaint, it's a serious problem affecting most schools, just like smoking. We have five lunch lines that are watched by at least two administrators. Imagine waiting in line for 10 minutes when a horde of inconsiderate students barges in front of you. Complaints to the administrators merely make them aware of the problem, but as they did not see the troublesome student, it is met with no repercussions. In addition to earning absolutely no justice, you find yourself at the end of the line and, inevitably, you must wait 25 minutes during a 30-minute lunch period, and that is no exaggeration.

Finally, the condition of the bathrooms is atrocious. Smoking is not the only problem. The bathrooms are disease-ridden rooms of filth. And if there are persons smoking illegal substances in the bathrooms, an action which is not uncommon at my educational facility, that person risks disciplinary action for being in the same room with said students.

If there is no smoking in the bathroom, you will find yourself walking out wet handed because every day some simple-minded students open the towel dispenser and throw them all over a wet floor.

As a student at Dunedin High School, I take grave offense to the comments made by Ms. Hale, whose idealistic view of the school system that she and all other citizens support through taxes is tragically skewed. Just as I take exception to the cellular phone issue that started this debate, I oppose the misinformed comments regarding the state of our schools and the rights of the students within them. These are issues that will not be resolved with a simple choice plan selection, because as you see, they have lasted for 20 years as it is.

Andrew Peterson, Palm Harbor

Bad storm season won't scare us away

Re: Hellish storm coming? Let's clean the fridge, guest column by Douglas Spangler, Sept. 23.

As Douglas Spangler conveys in his guest column, there is no Utopia. Every state in the union has both positive and negative attributes. It is up to each of us to weigh the difference and make a choice according to our own preference.

Like Spangler, I, too, am originally from the Midwest and have weathered my share of bad snow storms. I remember all too well being stuck in the snow and many a time have skidded along icy roads. Even though I tried, I never could quite acquire the knack of driving during winter-wonderland conditions.

Like most Floridians, I will not abandon the ship because of one nasty season. In the meantime, I look forward to the day when scientists and meteorologists will hopefully find a way to disrupt these menacing weather patterns before they strike land. Perhaps, in time, there may be a way to explode something directly into the eye of a hurricane to break it up and offset the storm _ or even better, blow apart a newly formed tropical disturbance before it becomes dangerous. Even though this may sound like pure science fiction, after centuries of progress, I refuse to give up hope that we may be one step closer and on the cutting edge of such a revolutionary discovery.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

Thanks to a good Samaritan

I wish to extend my thanks to the gentleman who stayed with my daughter and myself following our automobile accident Saturday at Belcher Road and East Bay Drive.

Although there were no obvious injuries, just sore muscles and damaged pride, this wonderful person took the time out of his day to be of assistance and to be a witness in case the police needed information. He offered us cold sodas, talked to us about Nascar (we had decals on the back car window), and provided a lighter side to the ill-timed moment. His presence was calming _ so much so that I failed to ask for his name, though we thanked him profusely.

Many other cars witnessed our accident, but this gentle soul was the only person to step forward and stay behind even though Hurricane Jeanne was beginning its march toward Pinellas County. So here's to you, kind man, who did what the shameless others did not. Perhaps we'll meet again one day.

Lynn York, Clearwater