1. Opinion

Quarterback vs. teacher salaries

Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
Teachers and supporters march during the Florida Education Association's "Take on Tallahassee" rally at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee. [PHIL SEARS  |  AP]
Teachers and supporters march during the Florida Education Association's "Take on Tallahassee" rally at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee. [PHIL SEARS | AP]
Published Jan. 24

Pay teachers for jobs they do

Teacher pay

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

Why white guys think they rule | Column, Jan. 23

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and President Donald Trump [Associated Press]

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


  1. In this Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004, file photo, Tiffany Carr, executive director of Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, left, speaks at a news conference held by Gov. Jeb Bush, background right, to announce a public awareness campaign designed to prevent disaster-related domestic violence, in Tallahassee, Fla. On Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered an investigation into a nonprofit domestic abuse agency whose CEO, Carr, had received $7.5 million in compensation over a three-year span. (AP Photo/Phil Coale, File)
  2. Paula Dockery of Lakeland served in the Florida Legislature for 16 years.
  3. The United States' life expectancy has gone down four out of the last five years largely because of deaths in the 25-64 age range.
  4. Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump
  5. In this image from video, the vote total, 53-47 for not guilty, on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of congress, is displayed on screen during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate.
  6. Nurse manager Amy Hunt holds the special stethoscope that allows nurses at Tampa General Hospital to record a heartbeat while they listen to it during a routine exam.
  7. Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections worker Andrea West adds mail ballots to an inserter at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Service Center in Largo. Workers are preparing to mail 260,000 vote by mail kits for the November General Election.
  8. Left tot Right: US Army Reserves Captain Jessica Purcell, 37, St. Petersburg, spends time with her 10-month-old son Jameson, and her attorney Natalie Khawam on Jan. 21, She has breast cancer and has filed a medical malpractice claim. Photo by SCOTT KEELER/Times
  9. Oil can be seen in the Gulf of Mexico on April 21, 2010, as a large plume of smoke rises from fires on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. The company at the center of that disaster, British oil giant BP, announced a zero emissions target this week.
  10. Three teens died in a fiery stolen SUV crash on Tampa Road in Palm Harbor in August 2017.
  11. Les Miller, Hillsborough County commissioner and chairman of the county's transit agency board, made the motion to fire chief executive officer Ben Limmer during a special meeting. Only one board member voted no.