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Florida Republican leaders set Hillsborough schools up to ‘fail’ | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
Kids Community College fifth-grader Thaddeus Jackson, middle, rallies with his mom, guidance counselor and dozens of other charter school supporters outside the Hillsborough County School Board's June 29 special meeting.
Kids Community College fifth-grader Thaddeus Jackson, middle, rallies with his mom, guidance counselor and dozens of other charter school supporters outside the Hillsborough County School Board's June 29 special meeting. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Jul. 10

The GOP education agenda

Stop forcing Hillsborough kids to attend failing schools | Column, July 8

As a parent and veteran teacher in Hillsborough County, I read with amazement Rep. Chris Latvala’s criticism of Hillsborough County School Board member Nadia Combs’ assertion that parents don’t always know what’s best for parents. For a generation now, Republicans in Florida have forced secret, expensive high-stakes standardized tests (that private schools don’t give) in order to tell parents what kind of job schools are doing. Parents can’t look at the tests if told their child failed, even when test companies have admitted for decades that mistakes are possible. Parents must accept the conclusions of the Florida Department of Education, even if we teachers have little confidence in the value of the tests. Every year since Jeb Bush was governor, the Republican education agenda has more to do with moving the bar to set up already underfunded public schools for “failure” and then moving tax dollars toward private schools and charters run by for-profit companies than anything else, especially “parental choice.”

Sarah Robinson, Safety Harbor

44th in funding

Stop forcing Hillsborough kids to attend failing schools | Column, July 8

Pinellas State Rep. Chris Latvala’s attack on the Hillsborough County School Board over its recent decision to hold a few underperforming charter schools accountable is misleading and omits critical facts. Latvala blames the district’s financial woes on the school board, but fails to mention that the Florida Legislature provided Hillsborough students with a cut of $19.6 million from last year’s budget levels. In a recent school board workshop, members indicated that the state’s current per pupil funding allocation for Hillsborough was below 2007-08 levels! Think about an analogy in the private sector: Could a business owner operate a corporation at revenues below 2007-08 levels and still provide the same level of service? The answer is obvious.

The Legislature, including Latvala, needs to take responsibility for chronically underfunding public education in Florida, which ranks 44th in the nation in per pupil funding. Voters in Hillsborough County elected a school board that supports and prioritizes neighborhood public schools. This school board is doing its job in overseeing the growth of charter schools to ensure those that are approved are accountable and provide quality and value for the taxpayer. As a middle class taxpayer and parent, I do not want my money going to for-profit charter school CEO salaries and perks, including (as in the recent case of a national charter school chain) a $9 million CEO payout, $400,000 for sports luxury boxes and a $2 million for a charter school plane. And I’m pretty sure most of my fellow Hillsborough County taxpayers agree with me.

Mark Zajac, Tampa

Thinking differently

How liberals and conservatives think | Letters, July 8

Thank you for printing this clear, concise letter concerning college faculties. It is my hope that his discussion will be shared as a starting point with students in civic and history classes at all levels. I also hope that his points will continue to be revisited as his clarity on this subject is the best I have read and perhaps the easiest to understand.

Paula McQuillan, Tampa

Arrogant liberals

How liberals and conservatives think | Letters, July 8

The letter writer’s description of liberals illustrated, while neglecting to mention, their primary characteristic: arrogance. Every liberal is certain that his insight into our society is absolutely correct. Believing that conservatives are stupid people gives one permission to force them into compliance with your own version of reality. This attitude may work on campus, but it has no place in politics. In the political arena, liberals think that it’s their duty to force non-believers into compliance, using the power of government if need be. For them, the end justifies the means, and it’s for your own good, after all. To a conservative, “progress” is a noun. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon that happens over time. To a liberal, “progress” is a verb. It’s something you do. Conservatives don’t resist change, they just want to be left alone, a concept foreign to the arrogant liberal.

John Weiss, Spring Hill

Truth and consequences

Academy of the Holy Names is too ‘woke,’ not Catholic enough, lawsuit says | July 6

When organizations have a dependence on the generosity of others, they run a substantial risk when their priorities, acceptance and practice of controversial issues conflict with sentiments of their key donors. Whether you support the “woke” movement and critical race theory and believe these practices will make our country a better place, you must realize that many people do not, and many are greatly insulted by a perceived guilt by association of race. As a country, many seem to have forgotten that our freedom of speech and thought guarantee us the right of our own opinion, regardless of its outrageousness, if it does not outwardly conflict with the rights of others. Although a school that is operated by one of the largest, wealthiest and most powerful religions in the world, with its own historical issues, can pick and choose its own educational priorities, it must be prepared to suffer the consequences of its decisions and freedom to do so.

Steve Hemingway, Tampa