I’m a teacher. This is different.
Budgets stare at cash crunch | May 4
I have been a public school teacher in Pinellas County for 23 years. During that time, I thought I had seen everything. Nothing could have prepared me, or my students, for the swift transition to distance learning. We are all making the best of it; the inequities I saw in my classroom are now becoming harder to ignore.
The students whose only meals were at school and who didn’t have internet access, much less a device to connect to the internet, have been in my classroom for years. These students, as I am, are eager to return to their school campus in the fall.
What they return to will largely be dependent on state lawmakers. More than 75 percent of Florida’s general revenue comes from sales taxes; with the economy being locked down, state revenue is plummeting. I fully anticipate the 2020-21 state budget passed in March will have to be revisited and cuts will need to be made. How those cuts are made will determine if my students face even greater inequity or if they are provided with the investment in their future they deserve. Florida’s schools have still not recovered from the budget cuts made during the Great Recession, and our students cannot afford austerity measures now.
If cuts to the education budget must be made, let me suggest a place to start: standardized testing. There is much that parents, students and educators have missed out on these past few weeks, but nobody is clamoring for the Florida Standards Assessments or an end-of-course exam.
Public schools provide a level of support and care that too many lawmakers ignored before COVID-19 shined a light on all that schools do. If and when the state budget is revisited, we must not forget public schools are essential and serve a public good far beyond education.
Rachel Mita, Clearwater
The curve isn’t flattened
Report warns of illness upturn | May 5
The purpose of the “flattening the curve” effort was to slow the infection rate so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed.
Success in “flattening the curve” does not mean that the pandemic is over. It means that there is room for you in the intensive care unit.
This is far from over. Wear a mask in public.
Tracy Fugleberg, Tampa
We need Fauci’s straight talk
Briefly | May 3
I understand the White House has banned our foremost expert on infectious diseases from speaking before Congress. I wonder what potentially embarrassing truths Dr. Anthony Fauci might reveal. To deny straight talk from us about the COVID-19 virus is absurd. Silencing him speaks volumes about our country’s leadership, or lack thereof.
Karl Olander, Indian Shores
I want to get back to normal
I miss my daily Times home delivery. For the past 30 years, I have been a home delivery subscriber of the paper. Until the latest modification in home delivery, I never realized how the delivery affected my daily routine. Each morning I would lie in bed till I heard the noise of the paper landing in my driveway. This prompted me to get up, start the coffee and go outside for my daily paper. Now, I only enjoy this routine twice a week. Reading on my Kindle is just not the same.
I pray for the day we get back to normal. A start of that process, for me, would be the paper in my driveway each day.
Peter Castelli, Tampa