The bravest people I knew
Here’s how I taught Black history | Perspective, Nov. 5
I very much appreciated Professor Charles Dew’s column about how he taught Black history. I have always felt that the experience of the Black American slaves, and how they made lives for themselves under the most debilitating conditions imaginable, is one of the most compelling stories of human endurance and survival in the history of the world. His story of a family keeping itself together over generations is testament to this spirit. All of us, Black and white, have lost the integrity of the family structure, and it is unfortunate. In the case of this family, those ties are obviously intensely strong and binding. I will always remember the six or seven Black children who were the first to integrate the all-white high school in my home town. They are the bravest people I have ever known, and I will never forget them and what they did.
Tim Baldwin, San Antonio
Spelling it out
I’m the national spelling bee winner, and here’s a better ‘pedagogy’ to teach it | Perspective, Nov. 5
English was my best subject (science was my brother’s). Spelling came easy to me as studying the biology of a frog came easy to my brother. Our mom subscribed to Reader’s Digest, and as soon as we were able to hold a book or magazine in our hands, she encouraged us to first take the “word power” test. I loved it. My mom and I would discuss the words I didn’t understand. If you can’t spell and don’t know how to pronounce difficult words, how are you ever going to be able to make it through a job interview? And if you do flub your way through the interview and are awarded a position in an organization, how in the world are you going to be successful if you don’t know the difference between “complement and compliment”? And if you are lucky to get hired, please stop adding “at” to the end of questions. It is not, “Where are you at?” It is, “Where are you?” I cringe when I hear “at” thrown in as there are so many people who believe the more words you use, the smarter you sound. It’s not true.
Harriet Browder, Clearwater
A toxic atmosphere
For bullying, teacher reprimanded | Nov. 5
So let me get this straight: A teacher can lose his or her job for respecting students’ racial, religious or gender identities, but bullying minority, LGBTQ+, female, neurodivergent and other students gets a reprimand? Reporter Bethany Barnes covered the students’ reports on one teacher’s abusive treatment extensively last year and followed up with the district’s response. I think that most thoughtful people realize that words matter, teachers are powerful figures in school, and bullying is unacceptable, especially by a teacher. I’m a strong supporter of traditional public education and bristle at charter schools and private school vouchers. But given the toxic atmosphere revealed in these reports, I can understand why parents might make other choices, including home schooling, to protect their children.
Susan Sumnick, Riverview
Strengthen public schools
A dramatic shift in learning | Perspective, Nov. 5
This investigative story on the rise of home schooling suggests all levels of education in Florida are now exposed to unwanted intrusions, dubious changes and substantive threats. I believe that the current public K-12 system is solid and needs attention to avoid undermining taxpayers’ support of it. Home schooling and charter schools are here to stay, but the traditional public system is the backbone of youth education. It needs to raise student national scores, keep young male students engaged in the system and educate students about democracy. I think most important is the cadre of qualified teachers in the classroom who set the tone for all grades. Quality college preparation of teachers and extending them respect are hallmarks of a society that believes in learning and self-improvement. If we lack shared values from education we may splinter as a nation.
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James Gillespie, St. Petersburg
Not really free
I thought free speech meant being able to say what you thought. Obviously not the case here in Florida. What, you criticized something Israel has done? You’re an antisemite, shame on you. So much for the First Amendment. Say what you want as long as it’s something the state authorizes. As for reading what you want in schools? Well ...
Wayne Roblin, South Pasadena