Florida tests the joy of reading right out of its students | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
Sand Pine Elementary School kindergarteners read books from their book boxes while participating in a Read to Self activity in Wesley Chapel.
Sand Pine Elementary School kindergarteners read books from their book boxes while participating in a Read to Self activity in Wesley Chapel.
Published Jan. 15

The joy of reading

Florida’s education system is vastly underperforming | Perspective, Jan. 8

Billy Townsend’s illuminating essay on Florida’s learning rate failures is no surprise to educators. Chasing test scores since 2005 has led to relentlessly forcing young students to read countless short articles and then having to write short response comprehension questions about the article — all in the name of test preparation. Would you finish reading this newspaper if you had to write a response to every article you read?

We are teaching children to hate reading. And if that starts in third grade, imagine how they feel about that biology book in 10th grade. We need to teach children to enjoy reading at home and in school by allowing some time to read without the pressure of test preparation. We need adult volunteers to have children read to them one-to-one at school. We need companies who can offer one-hour paid leave each month for employees to volunteer reading at nearby schools. And we need to thank teachers, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who help children build a lifelong love of reading by showing them how to discover and read interesting books and magazines.

Lorena Grizzle, Seminole

A knife at an open carry fight

Floridians, be ready to lock and load — or duck | Column, Jan. 8

I loved Daniel Ruth’s column about the pending legislation to allow “open carry” without a permit. The only problem: Not everyone can afford a gun. So to help fight crime they should include large knives, hatchets, baseball bats and an occasional broken beer bottle as other forms of “open carry” when you go into the supermarket and fear for your life.

George Alexander, Wesley Chapel

Guns and cars

Practical steps to end gun tragedies | Editorial, Jan. 11

I commend the Editorial Board’s rational approach to firearm violence. Allow me to extend this. To the left we find bans proposed, never mind that this would impact only a fraction of guns in circulation and would be an imposition only on the lawful. To the right, we see paranoia, never mind that the need for self-defense is vastly exaggerated and its execution is fraught. I urge two priorities. First, the media should take the lead in busting these polar myths. Irrational fear of restrictions and delusions of self-defense both drive insensible practices. Both put more guns in circulation. Second, we must distinguish the lawful from the unlawful. With another lethal machine, the automobile, we have the template: licensure, registration and insurance. Licensure and registration enable law enforcement to focus on disarming scofflaws. Insurance premiums work better than regulation in incentivizing reasonable numbers, types and storage provisions for lawful possession.

Pat Byrne, Largo

I dealt with classified info

Biden was ‘surprised’ government records were found at old office | Jan. 11

I was a first lieutenant in the Air Force, reporting directly to the base commander at a highly sensitive and very remote spy base during the height of the Vietnam and Cold Wars. I had all the appropriate security clearances. Confidential, secret and top-secret documents were in hard copy form and kept in five special safes in locked rooms. A senior NCO and I were the only ones who had the combinations. Classified documents could be read by only individuals who had a “need to know.” A record was kept when all documents were removed, returned and by whom. The documents were examined in designated settings. During my year at this remote assignment, we could not account for one document. This prompted an external investigation. We were all thoroughly questioned. The investigation concluded that the missing document had been accidentally destroyed. What I find greatly disturbing is the apparent carelessness by our political infrastructure that allows for classified documents to go missing seemingly routinely by neglect, carelessness or purposefully. In uniform, had I been similarly so careless in handling classified documents, I would have faced serious consequences. After recent events, I find it greatly worrisome that so many in our government, not in uniform, untrained or not qualified to have access to classified information simply do not care or know how to handle it. Perhaps, too many documents are classified? But for sure, there are dozens of elected representatives who should never see a classified document nor receive a classified briefing.

Albert C. Hine, Seminole

Congressional make-believe.

Congress unable to block Santos | Jan. 11

George Santos is Exhibit A of why Americans dwindling faith in Congress is so apparent. Santos’ “resume embellishment” employs some whoppers including the fabrication of his college degree (which he has none) nor was he employed by Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. He also lied about being Jewish and a descendant of Holocaust survivors. Santos does admit to overstatement of his resume and adding “we do stupid things in life.” I believe that he is one reason why voters’ approval of Congress is just above telemarketers.

George Chase, St. Pete Beach