Pay teachers for jobs they do
Recently I have witnessed two debates in our community. As a football fan I’m aware of the discussion about whether to pay our Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback $20 million or $30 million next year. I’ve also been aware of our school teachers’ march in Tallahassee. They are asking not just for an improvement in their salary, which averages under $50,000, but for investment in our entire school system. Some support staff earn less than the federal poverty level. We are in the bottom 10 of all states in teacher pay.
I am not nor have I ever been a school teacher. Since my own education 50 years ago, I have not been in a public school classroom until this past year but, intellectually, I have always believed in improving teacher pay. This past year it’s become far more than a simple belief. I have been blessed to be involved in the St. Petersburg YMCA Reads program. I am able to watch two talented ladies work with 15 first-graders after school. These women inspire me. The children excite me. I see young children learning critical life skills. They are our future — and for decades to come. These women and all teachers and the young people they work with provide us with far more than a Super Bowl trophy. I can only say, pay them. A teacher’s salary or 30 million bucks? I sometimes feel like Alice wondering how I got down this rabbit hole.
Lee Nolan, St. Petersburg
I knew what I voted for
What rights will high court gut next? | Editorial, Jan. 22
The Times’ omniscient editorial board now knows what 5.1 million voters intended on Amendment 4. Make that 5,099,999 and, I imagine, a lot fewer, or we’re really in trouble. When reading “upon completion of all terms of a sentence,” I understood “all” to mean, well, all, which would include all financial terms, too. Those financial terms were part of the sentence and should not be ignored. You assume that the voters were too stupid to understand what “all” means. If you are correct, we’re in worse shape than we “all” can imagine.
Eric Von Kaenel, St. Petersburg
We’re the hazard
Driving in Florida
As I drive I-4 between Tampa and Orlando, I often wonder why it is the most dangerous highway in the country. It must be because of the mountainous terrain and hairpin turns. No, it must be because of all the potholes. No, it must be because of all the snow and ice. No, it must be because of the heavy traffic or tourists who don’t visit other states. No, perhaps it is because of the culture and driving habits here. Ah, yes. There, it is. I drove here for many years before I realized that cars had turn signals in Florida. Is it against the law to be courteous on the roads here? It seems to me that the problem is lax enforcement. If the police would ticket people for “improper lane change,” as I have been in another state, it would generate millions of dollars that would benefit law-abiding citizens. Until then, keep cutting in and out of traffic until your accident and see how your insurance rates change.
Tony Delcavo, Denver
Don’t vilify entire groups
Thanks for the insightful column by K. Ward Cummings. I can’t say that his point of view is something that hasn’t been said before, and I’m sure Mr. Cummings has his own experiences and reasons to lump “white men” into a single “one size fits all” group with President Donald Trump at its core. Regardless of this man’s feelings, if you were to substitute any other ethnicity for the term “white man” and publish this commentary, you would be branded a bigot and a racist who is guilty of profiling both a race and a gender. Worst of all, you’d strengthen the resolve of all who rationalize their personal predicaments and their place in society against a common enemy. If you have any knowledge of World War II and the Holocaust, you understand one of the greatest examples of creating a common villain. History is complete with examples of dominance and inhumanity on every continent on this planet since time began, and our country certainly is no exception. I’d like to believe we’ve come a long way but acknowledge there’s still a way to go. I support Mr. Cummings’ First Amendment right to say what he wants, but I question this generalized argument, vilifying “white men” as a group, to condemn a specific white man.
Steve Hemingway, Tampa
How privilege works
While reading this column, it became clear to me, a white woman, what a white man’s privilege is all about — an innate feeling that this bad behavior is okay simply because you are white and male. Thank you, Mr. K. Ward Cummings, for your insightful article.
Irene Prosser, Tarpon Springs
Responsible to the voters
Elected to serve, not to be reachable | Jan. 23
SB 832 and HB 1191 are designed to hide information about Florida lawmakers, like their home address and telephone numbers. Florida politicians claim they are worried that someone might cause them harm or harass them. While I don’t wish any physical harm upon Florida lawmakers — even the ones with whom I strongly disagree — it does seem quite self-serving that they are interested only in protecting themselves and not in protecting others. Basically, what they are saying to Floridians is, “We’re worried about gun violence, but we aren’t going to do anything to protect Floridians, just ourselves.” Apparently, we voted them into office to protect themselves, not us.
As for home phone numbers, I think every politician’s home phone number should be readily discoverable with a quick internet search. Aren’t they supposed to listen to their constituents? Why shouldn’t we be able to contact them to encourage them to do what we want them to do? Is the same policy in place for lobbyists, or do lobbyists get to have politician’s home phone numbers while we plebs are stuck writing emails that get impersonal auto-responses? These bills strike me as nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to make Florida politicians less responsible to the voters.
Ryan Cragun, Tampa