The Florida Constitution's promise
Ignoring the clear will of the people
At Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln stated that thousands of fallen soldiers had sacrificed their lives so that the "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." One hundred and fifty-six years later, politicians in Tallahassee are doing their best to ensure our state government becomes a government that ignores the will of the people and strives to destroy the very institutions that have made this country great.
For 20 years, lawmakers have undermined public education. They disrespect the teaching profession and pass laws that underfund and destabilize our system. All this is done for the sake of money and at the peril of our students and future generations.
When it comes to education, the Legislature has one job to do as outlined in the Florida Constitution: "Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education…"
The citizens of Florida willingly tax themselves to support their neighborhood schools, confirming that our lawmakers have relinquished this task. To deter the will of the citizens, lawmakers seek to dip their hands into our referendum dollars to help privately run schools turn a profit, thus reducing teacher pay and student resources in traditional public schools. Circumventing the will of the Florida voter is nothing new, you may recall a class size amendment that the voter would barely recognize today due to it being watered down beyond recognition. A free, high-quality public education benefits all citizens and is the foundation of our democracy. It is wrong to refuse to "fund our future," it is worse to not speak out against it.
Mike Gandolfo, Palm Harbor
The writer is president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.
They chose guns over our teachers | Editorial, April 18
Teachers could choose
From what I see, the vote by the Florida Senate, which you disparaged in this editorial, does not require teachers to be armed, but rather, would give them the option of whether or not to arm themselves if the school board agrees. While I am not a big fan of armed teachers, I am reminded of the adage, "It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it, and not have it." Therefore, I conclude that, if an armed teacher prevents the killing or wounding of even one student, it might be worth it.
Kenneth Gilder, St. Petersburg
Fla. girl sparked massacre fears | April 18
She wasn't a 'girl'
How old does a female need to be before she is referred to as a woman by the Tampa Bay Times? Sol Pais was, at the time of her death, old enough to vote, and old enough to legally purchase the gun that generated a closure of schools in Jefferson County, Colo. Then, while the front page headline referred to her as a girl, the first line of the news service story indicated she was an 18-year-old "woman." By referring to her as a "girl" and then as a "Florida teen," the Times seems to be force-feeding readers some notion of innocence (based on age and/or gender) that her words and actions belied. Had this perpetrator been an 18-year-old male, would the Times have referred to him as a "boy"? I seriously doubt it. Words matter. You should choose yours more carefully.
Deirdre Walker, Treasure Island