Teach in Washington?
In my classroom in Florida, here is why children need to learn ‘all this stuff’ | Column, Oct. 21
Since retiring as a teacher and principal, I have been subbing as a principal for the last 10 years here in Vancouver, Washington, not because I need the income, but because I love working with kids a few days a week. And working with professional educators who love working with kids is always good for my soul.
You Florida teachers are in this beautiful profession because you love and care for children, and you have an enduring passion for educating them. Watching them reach their potential and succeed at their highest level is breathtaking. You are doing your very best for your students while at the same time, you are constantly being attacked, restrained and disrespected by your reactionary governor and his like-minded constituents.
Educators in Washington state enjoy the support of our governor, the state schools superintendent and the vast majority of state legislators and local boards. We do not ban books or rewrite the curriculum to fit the new truths of untruthful and/or fearful people. Finally, according to Education Week (April 2023), on average, teachers in Washington earn over $31,000 more than teachers in Florida. I invite you to strongly consider continuing your career in Washington state.
Steve Friebel, Vancouver, Washington
The fixes that aren’t
Insurance fix questioned | Oct. 22
It is revealing that the fixes tried thus far to cure Florida’s homeowners insurance crisis are those that tie consumers’ hands, such as limiting lawsuits, forbidding assignment of claims and freeing insurance companies of attorneys fees and court costs. That some insurance companies may, in effect, be “faking” their own bankruptcies by siphoning money to out-of-state parent companies, or paying huge salaries to CEOs of failed companies, has not been studied. Former state Sen. Jeff Brandes revealed that a treasure trove of “autopsies” of failed companies is gathering dust in the perhaps-misnamed Office of Insurance Regulation, not even requested or read by legislators. Makes one wonder just for whom that office works — consumers, or political big-donor insurances firms and their lobbies. Our votes for legislators have consequences, too often ignored.
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
Teachers bill of rights
Vouchers benefit existing private-school students most | Oct. 5
The late Braulio Alonso, the Tampa-born lifelong educator and civil rights champion, is said to have proclaimed that education is the greatest affirmative action program in the history of the United States. Where else can a child from a poor family get an opportunity to get ahead from what you know rather than from whom you know? Alonso believed the process of democracy begins with our opportunities through learning. I believe that the attack on public education by Florida politicians, pitting parents against teachers and the curriculums, are, in truth, steps to destroy our democracy.
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Teachers are leaving in droves out of fear and the persistent attacks by political forces. Sen. Rick Scott and Gov. Ron DeSantis are at the forefront of the attack. They have endangered Florida’s public education system and raised their political fortunes by blaming teachers.
As a right-to-work state, Florida made teacher unions powerless. The general public has turned its back on teachers. There is no one out there to help us teachers anymore. I am asking people who read this to find a way to change the course we are on. How about a teachers bill of rights? Please, we need your help.
John Miliziano, Tampa
Set the right priorities
Child poverty is on the rise and How the Rays and our beaches benefit from Pinellas’ tourism taxes | Oct. 22
Interesting that in the same edition of the Tampa Bay Times, we learn from one article that children in the Tampa Bay area are increasingly at risk for poverty and all that will mean for their development, and then in a separate story that our Pinellas County Commission has funds to spare for the new Tampa Bay Rays stadium as well as beach renourishment. Is our children’s nourishment even on their agenda?
We are viewing tourist tax dollars as a bonus item to be used for our splurges at the same time we seem not to be able to provide adequate and affordable housing for those who do the heavy lifting for our tourists. It is possible, we are learning, that we can create bonds for the Historic Gas Plant District development but not, apparently, for affordable housing. I urge the Pinellas County Commission to reconsider their priorities.
Beth Hovind, Tarpon Springs