1. Opinion

This is why teachers rallied in Tallahassee

Here’s what readers have to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools this month in Tallahassee. [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT  |  AP]
Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools this month in Tallahassee. [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT | AP]
Published Jan. 18

Why teachers rallied in capital

Try working a retail job | Letter, Jan. 16

I am a retired educator and the immediate past president of Florida Education Association — Retired, a state retired education organization. On Monday, I attended the education rally held in Tallahassee. The focus of the rally was to encourage state legislators to fund education adequately. The rally was not only about teacher salaries (although Florida ranks a dismal 46th in the nation). It was also about spending more money per student; Florida is in the lower 10 states nationally. It was about decreasing teacher shortages, providing counselors in all schools, including programs such as PE and band, reducing class sizes, and repairing decaying buildings. We also are asking legislators to Fund Our Future by increasing funding.

Yes, educators do not work in a classroom for 12 months. However, time off is filled with renewing certificates by attending conferences, workshops and institutes; preparing curriculum for the upcoming year; and becoming proficient in state-mandated issues. Many educators find it necessary to work during the summer to supplement their income. Most are not “two who are married” as mentioned in this letter.

Our students and educators deserve better. All Floridians need to be concerned and involved with the future of our state education. Together, we can help Florida rise to the top and become leaders in education. We need to start with the legislators budgeting the needed funding.

Marilyn Warner, Clearwater

Freedom’s path at ballot box

The 2020 election

Almost everyone in this country has “skin in this game.” Whether your ancestors suffered on the Trail of Tears, or died on the fields of Gettysburg, or marched on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, or crossed thousands of miles of hostile lands or oceans, your family paid a price for freedom, the freedom that is promised by our Constitution to everyone. Moving toward that more perfect union is the theme of our entire history, and it is highlighted by both the times we have fallen short, as well as the times we have moved forward. Every generation is faced with its challenge in this history, and the election of 2020 is ours.

You don’t need to get shot at, or walk thousands of miles through the wilderness, or get your skull bashed in by Bull Connor. All this generation needs to do to move forward toward the promise of freedom and equality for all, is vote. Please do it, and please help others do it as well.

Helen Kirton, Gibsonton

Nuclear waste is the issue

A new nuclear plant in 15 years? | Column, Jan. 12

The Crystal River nuclear plant was closed more than 10 years ago after a botched repair job.

Using nuclear energy to generate electricity sounds great and nonpolluting until you have to dispose of the nuclear waste. Nuclear fuel can take thousands of years to completely degrade, and normally, a nuclear power plant replaces a third of its nuclear fuel assemblies every 18 to 24 months. We should not be building any new nuclear power plants until we have a viable and safe storage solution for the spent nuclear fuel. This is a very long-term environmental and safety issue. Once the nuclear waste is made, it cannot be undone.

R. Estabrook, Riverview

Freedom from religion

Right to pray trumps school rules | Column, Jan. 14

Cambridge Christian and Carrollwood Day players pray after a game in October. There is no ban on student-led prayer.

The founding fathers realized that any laws they passed — which were to be obeyed by all Americans, regardless of faith — had to be free of any religious content, intentional or not. They understood that their own religious beliefs could not, and should not, be used in any way to influence or shape the laws for the entire country to follow. Although you are free to practice you own religious beliefs, it does not give you the right to try to force your own religious beliefs on to someone else, who might not share your same religious beliefs.

The issue of allowing Christian prayer to be broadcast over loudspeakers in a public stadium, to everyone in the stands regardless of their own religious beliefs, might not seem like a major issue to many people, but it could lead to a much bigger problem if this right were not allowed or given to schools or individuals with different religious beliefs.

Suppose for instance, a Jewish school’s football team wanted to use those same loudspeakers to broadcast their prayers to everyone in the stands, which could include some Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or even atheists? Would that be acceptable to everyone in the stadium? Remember, this is a public, not private, stadium.

If we are going to allow religious freedoms and liberties to be enjoyed by one religious group, we must absolutely allow those same freedoms and liberties to be enjoyed by all religious groups, even the ones who practice no religion at all.

Mike Quartucci, Zephyrhills

Finding the right school

School choice

I believe that it’s important for students to be in a learning environment that is the best fit for them. Gone are the days of applying the same mold to every child who enters a classroom. Their individual needs must be met. When they aren’t, it’s necessary to have an alternative in place.

I know this is important because of the experience my own two children had.

My oldest daughter wasn’t having her needs met in her brick-and-mortar school.

My youngest daughter, Allison, was going to enter kindergarten reading on a fifth-grade level.

I knew from my own experience as an educator that this would be a challenge for her and her teachers in a traditional brick-and-mortar environment.

Their needs led me to research different options available for both of my children and we decided that an on-line charter school was the best fit. It would allow both of my children to receive a more customized education in a safe environment. Attending school online fostered their desire to learn while meeting their individual needs.

The ability to choose the best school for my children to meet their needs is one that I cherish.

Families need to have the ability to choose an education option that works best for them rather than trying to squeeze in a one-size-fits-all education.

That’s why I urge Florida to protect school choice so that all families have that power in their hands.

Melissa Ley, St. Petersburg


  1. From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  2. Rep. Jamie Grant, R- Tampa, center,  is congratulated by House members after passage of the Amendment 4 bill, May 3, 2019. Florida lawmakers lost another round Wednesday, with a federal appeals court ruling the restrictions on felon voting rights are unconstitutional.
  3. It's not a bad time to be looking for a job. [Scott Keeler, Times]
  4. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, right, addresses a joint session of the Florida Legislature during his State of the State address in Tallahassee.
  5. No issue is too small for Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee to attack citizen initiatives and local control.
  6. This photo shows multiple forms printed from the Internal Revenue Service web page that are used for 2018 U.S. federal tax returns.
  7. A boy named Jamal, 12, looks for an item in his new room at Joshua House in Lutz in 2016.
  8. Megan Davila, 25, a Child Protection Investigator in training, along with Jacque Salary, 46, a Child Protection Investigator and mentor for almost seven years, pictured with their case files in the family visitation room at the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Investigators are the front line of the foster care system, responsible for sometimes life-or-death decisions about whether to remove a child because of issues like domestic violence and drug use in the home.
  9. The Florida Senate is taking one step forward this year on criminal justice reform – requiring racial and ethnic impact statements for legislation we consider, writes State Sen. Jeff Brandes.
  10. Joey Cousin, a transgender student from Broward county and an opponent of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, speaks at a press conference at the Capitol. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.