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  1. Opinion

Thank a nurse and support nursing education

Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor

We need more nurses

The year of the nurse

As interim dean of the USF College of Nursing, I join our faculty in educating the next generation of clinical nurses and nurse scientists. The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. This anniversary marks 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale, widely considered to be the first nurse. This year and every year, it is important for us all to recognize the importance of our calling. For 18 years in a row, the Gallup Poll has reported that Americans rate nursing as the profession with the most honesty and highest ethics. And for good reason.

WHO notes that there are 22 million nurses and 2 million midwives, making up more than half of the health-care workforce around the globe. In many communities, nurses might be the only heath-care providers that people see throughout their entire lives. Unfortunately, as our population ages and chronic diseases take their toll on populations, we are facing a nursing shortage. According to WHO, the world will need some 9 million more nurses by 2030. To help combat that issue locally, the USF College of Nursing has expanded its program to the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses. The expansion — which allows future nurses to study at three locations and is part of the university consolidation — will help our communities get the nurses they require.

So, as we celebrate the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, I urge everyone to take time to appreciate nurses and the work they do. Support them when they ask for supplies for relief efforts or request volunteers for health studies. Thank them for delivering safe and effective care at your bedside. Provide scholarships for aspiring nurses who need help with their educations. And never underestimate a nurse’s capacity for healing our communities.

Usha Menon, Tampa

Vouchers help my students

School vouchers as entitlement for the middle class | Column, Feb. 9

Mac Stipanovich [ Mac Stipanovich ]

Mac Stipanovich claims that Florida’s K-12 scholarships are a “stalking horse” for universal vouchers. I don’t know how much experience he has with the education of low-income, minority children. I grew up in a broken home in the Bronx. I ran away from home at 14 and lived with a gang for two years. It took me a long time to turn my life around.

When I moved to Florida in 2004, I was blown away by how this state empowered parents, especially low-income parents of color. There were charter schools, open enrollment programs and scholarships for low-income students and children with special needs. Church of The Way started a school to serve the poorest of the poor in Tampa. We have 63 students, who are mostly African-American and Latino. We have a waiting list of 31. Many of our students represent the toughest cases from public schools. So I take it personally when Stipanovich tells school choice supporters to “stop pretending” that they are interested in helping the disadvantaged. That’s an insult to the work we do at The Way Christian Academy, educating students whom others have given up on.

Given the positive impact the scholarships have made in my community, it’s no wonder that middle-class families who can’t afford private school tuition — parents who are teachers, nurses and first responders — would want to participate. A family of three making $63,000 could be two parents earning about $15 an hour to support a child. Heck, $15 an hour may become the new minimum wage, so I’ve got to wonder if the minimum wage is the new middle class. If so, I say empower these parents with scholarships, too.

Luis Vega, Tampa

The writer is pastor and founder of The Way Christian Academy in Tampa.

A better way on pet sales

Hillsborough looks to ban commercial pet shops | Jan. 25

This poster was seen January 21 inside the Brandon location for All About Puppies, one of two pet retail businesses in Hillsborough County allowed under county law to obtain animals from a breeder. [ ANASTASIA DAWSON | Times ]

Hillsborough County commissioners who are looking to ban pet stores may have great motives, but a landmark bill under consideration in Tallahassee, the Florida Pet Protection Act of 2020, would be the most effective way to protect animals. The bill (SB 1698 and HB 1237) could make Florida a national model for ensuring all of our pet stores acquire animals from reputable breeders with clean records and provide those animals safe, clean, comfortable and enriching environments.

The Pet Protection Act would prohibit local governments from passing their own pet store ordinances, and many of us do not appreciate Tallahassee telling local communities what they can and cannot regulate. On something as fundamentally important as preventing animal suffering and abuse, however, Florida should have uniform, stringent standards statewide, rather than a hodgepodge across 412 municipalities and 67 counties.

This bill would not affect public or non-profit animal shelters, but it would do more to improve the pet store industry than any other legislation ever has in state history: Stores would only acquire animals from breeders with clean records at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates the breeding of animals in all 50 states; stores would be required to provide a statement signed by an accredited veterinarian describing any known health issue with the pet; stores would be required to have records of where the pets came from, including videos of the breeder facilities and pictures of every sire and dam; and licensed veterinarians would inspect conditions at every store three times a week.

Many activists want to ban all pet stores and give consumers little choice, except shelters and rescue organizations. This would make it much harder for consumers to purchase their ideal pet, such as a specific breed or hypoallergenic dog. The better solution is to rid Florida of bad actors who put profit over the health and safety of our pets.

Luis Marquez, Miami

The writer owns several Petland stores in Florida, including one in Largo.

A booster can be objective

Trump blasts Stone judge | Feb. 13

Roger Stone arrives at Federal Court for his federal trial in Washington. [ CLIFF OWEN | AP ]

When I was younger, as a University of Florida graduate back in the 1980s, I took great offence when the NCAA investigated UF for major violations in its football program. I thought our enemies were just envious, making up stuff to bring us down. In time, though, I came to realize that my alma mater had indeed done some pretty rotten things. I wonder when some Republicans will finally realize that the president has done some pretty rotten things.

Rene Tamargo, Tampa