Sunday's letters: What we need to do to improve schools

Published May 11, 2018

main, top-news, tbo-op

Calls for action after a violent school year | May 6

Don't let a school slip, slide away

The reporter's description of the current situation at Wharton High School is eerily similar to events that have occurred at Chamberlain High in recent years. As a parent of students who attended Chamberlain from 2003 to 2016, I can attest to the conditions the Hillsborough School District allowed, resulting in a poor learning environment for all students. The district ignored for years all indications that conditions were deteriorating — from student test scores to input from parents. Officials went so far as to gut many specialties and classes such as the Chamberlain Advanced Placement Scholars Program. The dedication of the teachers and staff at the school could not overcome the actions of the district. Many Chamberlain families in the surrounding communities have fled to other educational opportunities through special assignment, private schools or school choice.

Changing school boundaries would indeed resolve the issue for many of the more influential families of students attending Wharton but will do little for those who are without a voice to make their needs heard. These students will just be shuttled to another school without understanding their requirements. The district must rethink its traditional methods for engaging families from surrounding communities to support lifelong learning.

The district must start early at the grassroots level — in the neighborhoods, local churches and recreation centers — to encourage and support the dedication it takes to promote learning. Success in school should never be dependent upon ZIP codes.

Jeanine Parrish, Tampa

Calls for action ... | May 6

What needs to be fixed

As one of the remaining 11 original faculty/staff members at Wharton High School, I want to add key points to this article. First, in reference to honors classes, even students who score the lowest level on state assessments or who fail a course may choose honors at Wharton. In addition, the current Wharton administration made a decision last summer to convert all ninth-grade English courses into honors without input from teachers or parents. Are there no regular-level learners in ninth grade?

Second, Wharton is near 100 percent enrollment capacity. We need relief on our very crowded campus, and we need it now. Waiting for boundaries for a new school on the opposite end of the county is not a viable option. The School Board can and should make that decision sooner than later.

Merrill Connor, Wesley Chapel

Scott sinks to new low
in cronyism | May 11, editorial

You can't make this up

Looks like Gov. Rick Scott has officially crossed the line and joined President Donald Trump in the "Hey, you really can't make this stuff up" club. His latest escapade with the Department of Revenue reads more like a MAD Magazine satire.

David Lubin, Tampa

The lost ideal that
was America | May 5, letter

We've survived worse

I am not of John McCain's political persuasion either, but this letter, which quoted McCain's new book was moving to me, also. It led me to my edition of Carl Sandburg's poems The People Yes: "The learning and blundering people will live on." ... "The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback." ... "There are men who can't be bought. The fireborn are at home in fire. The stars make no noise. You can't hinder the wind from blowing. Time is the great teacher. Who can live without hope?"

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The present political situation has blinded me from the education that I have. I forgot that others have endured seemingly impossible situations and, yet, America has survived and thrived. There have been and there still are great Americans you can't buy.

There are men of steel like John McCain in the U.S. Senate. Who would have expected a tall and skinny rail splitter from Illinois to, against all odds, save the Union? Sandburg's hopeful poetry comes from his knowledge and love of Lincoln.

So, I guess I better look at present-day American politics with the eye and perspective of someone who knows and loves America and its citizens. America has survived revolution, secession, terrible leaders. We will survive Trump.

Robert Clifford, Tarpon Springs

Remember the student who
was shot at FSU? | May 6

The pursuit of happiness

I experienced rage with the ease with which one can obtain a weapon in the United States. Ronny Ahmed, a student in biomedical engineering, planned for a bright future. The day he was shot changed his life forever, and now he is paralyzed from the waist down. For all those who tout the constitutional right to bear arms, I ask what about the right to pursue happiness outlined in the Declaration of Independence? Let's not forget this tragedy and let's work toward a sensible compromise on the Second Amendment. Let's fight for our dream of a more peaceful society and stand up for innocents who pay too dearly because of the easy access to guns.

Irene Prosser, Tarpon Springs

A narrow path forward | April 29, Perspective

Leading the way

Boots on the ground! Many thanks to Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Carlton Ward Jr. and Joseph Guthrie for their exploration of the imperiled stretch of the Florida Wildlife Corridor near Interstate 4. If not for them, who would do this important survey? I hope that this team's work makes a difference and helps to protect the critical wildlife corridor. Reading their article, I felt so very grateful to them.

Geri Doherty, Clearwater

Just give him the prize | May 11, letter

What wins a Nobel

Here's a news update: There is no Nobel Prize in literature for tweets. And there's no Nobel for war, only for peace.

Jeanine K. Peters, Largo