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Performance pay is insult to teachers

Re: School Board's recent meeting with Sen. Paula Dockery.

The Florida Department of Education and Commissioner John Winn have created another performance pay program designed to promote competition among teachers who should be working together for the good of all students.

This new program will require the Hernando County School Board to rate the top 10 percent of its teachers according to their students' learning gains made on the FCAT. This new plan is an insult to the excellent teachers who are currently working hard each day to meet the varied needs of the students in their classroom.

As all teachers know, growth and learning throughout the school year cannot be accurately measured in one test. Instead of creating programs that will divide teachers and create competition, the Education Department needs to address the fact that Florida teachers work for wages that are $6,200 below the national average and $5,000 below the average teacher's salary in Georgia.

Paying teachers an appropriate and respectable wage is not only the right thing to do but also a way to attract top-notch teachers to Florida. Considering the fact that Florida will need 32,000 new teachers to begin the next school year, it is clear the Education Department and current administration are not doing an effective job of creating a climate of professional respect and collaboration in our state's schools.

Join me in writing letters to the State Board of Education and ask its members to reject this unfair proposal.

Brian Phillips, president

Hernando Classroom Teachers' Association

To support troops, back their cause

Re: Supporting troops in word only, Feb. 6 guest column by Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite.

Rep. Brown-Waite wrote a commentary saying, essentially, that you can't support the troops while at the same time insulting the president and voting against most or all defense measures. She says you can't support the troops while you make it difficult for them to do their job, if not outright give aid and comfort to the enemy.

I agree with her wholeheartedly, but I would go further. The usual Republican response to this Democratic indignation is "I am not questioning your patriotism, just your judgment."

Actually, those Democrats who are using the war for political gain should have their patriotism questioned. I do not think it is possible to support the troops while shrilly attacking everything surrounding what they are doing.

Ernest Lane, Trinity

City, county get greedy over taxes

Another tax atrocity:

We were planning to downsize and build a home in a 55-and-older community, the Cascades of Southern Hills. Once the price of the home and lot was fairly well established, we called the county for tax information. We were informed that taxes in that area would be a great deal more, the reason being that the city of Brooksville annexed the property. Talk about taxation without representation! You live in Brooksville and they get a shot at you for tax monies, then because Brooksville is in Hernando County, the county wants a full shot at you.

For a smaller and cheaper home, our taxes would be approximately $12,000 a year, per the county tax office. Talk about being greedy. The only taxing authority that has not joined the feeding frenzy is the state.

Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

Bob Seruga, Spring Hill