August's letter of the month
The winning letter addressed changes in school security and atmosphere
First day of school a scary time now
Monday morning we took our youngest child to start her school life proper. It was bittersweet and tugged on my heartstrings for many reasons, but one was that her first day of kindergarten was overshadowed by new and frighteningly divisive policies.
We are lucky to live down the street from a wonderful public school, which in previous years was filled with parents volunteering on campus and a real family feel. This year arriving to "meet the teacher," we were greeted by a security guard carrying a gun.
That is not the only change. Now, popping in to help, drop off a needed item, have lunch or wait for my child and talk with the staff before dismissal are a thing of the past. The entrance not only has a locked door but is screened in, too.
I want intelligent research, discussion, regulation and resources for our community. Instead, our taxes are paying for knee-jerk measures that make me feel far more worried about my children's safety than before.
I am begging for common sense analysis and reform. Do not make my child's school a prison and her educators security guards because the Legislature refuses to acknowledge a public health and societal issue. Whom we vote in for school board will directly influence our children's safety. Whom we vote in to the judiciary will influence the permissiveness with which guns can be fired in our neighborhood. The shooting of Markeis McGlockton was less than a mile from our home.
I hope my community will turn out for this important election. My children will be better protected by a strong, engaged community than a screened-off entrance and a loaded firearm always on campus.
Jennifer Ledward, Dunedin
Don't drill off the coast
of Florida | Letter, Aug. 31
Go solar for our own good
Last month, against the devastating backdrop of Florida's two coastlines covered in Red Tide and green toxic slime, oil lobbyists gathered in Tallahassee to convince our governor and state legislators to support President Donald Trump's plan to open our coastal waters to increased offshore oil drilling. They see the current administration as their last best chance to cash in.
While we cannot expect momentum toward a cleaner energy economy from Washington at this time, there is "light" in the distance. Florida's famous sunshine makes us one of the top three states for solar expansion in the east. And the good news is: utilities, businesses, and homeowners are installing it at furious rates.
Jim Fenton, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, says rooftop solar offers Florida homeowners one of the best returns on any home investment, with returns as high as 14 percent. With a recently cited growth rate of residential rooftop permits of 110 percent in 2017, Florida is now one of the national leaders in adding new solar energy. Solar jobs are growing 10 times faster than the Florida economy as a whole.
Between our vulnerability to rising oceans, and the toxic algae blooms plaguing our coasts, Floridians live on the front line of climate change. Solar power offers us an exciting chance to both save money and speed the transition to a clean energy future that will add jobs and slow the advance of the annual coastal water crisis and climate change.
Rep. Kathy Castor and Sen. Bill Nelson have stood strong to keep current protections against drilling. Now we need Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Rep. Vern Buchanan and even Sen. Marco Rubio to speak up in opposition to all new offshore oil drilling. Clean energy will "lift all boats" and help ensure a future for our low-lying state.
The writer is solar chair of the League of Women Voters of Florida.
Why Republicans stick
with Trump | Column, Sept. 6
Still doesn't make sense
President Donald Trump is not a conservative. He's a politician who has learned to leverage conservative tenets to his advantage. It's been successful, and I expect it to continue. But it's not driven by a core system of conservative values, and as such, his orthodoxy is untrustworthy. But at the level of president of the United States, character is as important as policy. Conservatism is based on personal responsibility and we've never had a president demonstrating a lower level of it than President Trump. Former Gov. Bobby Jindal wants us to view the president as someone who walks and talks like a conservative and that's why the party backs him. But President Trump has only half the walk and none of the talk. There's some other justification for the 40 percent of voters who support him, but I'm as clueless as to what it is after reading Jindal's article as I was before.
Jon Crawfurd, Gulfport
Nike sets off storm | Sept. 5
Wealthy lives matter
Nike's support of Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem in support of Black Lives Matter seems to be a cynical publicity stunt. Otherwise, they should be improving conditions for their foreign sweat shop workers and touting those. The only lives that really matter to Nike are those of their wealthy stockholders!
Jane Sellick, Palmetto
Teachers get tutored for tests | Sept. 4
Do the math; it's not hard
I find it very ironic that the public schools' long-term lack of interest in teaching basic math skills has come back to haunt them. A whole generation of students have been granted high school diplomas who can't answer these simple questions. I find it hard to be sorry for the public schools because they have created this problem for themselves. Let's get back to teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. I am 76 years old and graduated from high school in 1960 and I had no problem in answering these questions.
Bruce Brown, Lutz