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  1. Letters to the Editor

Friday's letters: Be smart when it's time to vote again

Florida Legislature

Be smart with your vote

I'm astonished readers would write letters to the editor to express their displeasure with the recent train wreck in Tallahassee. Don't they know they got the best representatives power, sugar, commerce, law sharks, land barons and other special interests could buy?

As long as voters will tolerate ineptitude and my-way-or-the-highway personalities, they'll get what big money selects for them. Stop crabbing and think about your next vote with more than a knee-jerk mentality.

Bill Harris, St. Petersburg

Failure factories

District broke promises

Students in all Pinellas County schools will not reach their academic potential until an environment conducive to learning is restored. Precious instructional time is routinely lost because teachers are expected to be the primary disciplinarians for students who have no interest in learning and little respect for others.

Teachers cannot make up for what happens or doesn't happen at home, and they shouldn't be expected to do so. No other corrective strategies will be successful until parents take back the responsibility for both their children's classroom behavior and for imparting to them an interest in learning. Students whose behavior is continually disruptive, and whose parent or guardian shows insufficient interest in the student's improvement, should be ejected from publicly funded schools for the remainder of the school year. Guardians should then be responsible for finding other educational opportunities for the balance of the year or explain to a judge why their child is a truant. To aid citizens and administrators in the future assessment of school operation, a cadre of Level 2-cleared volunteers should be randomly visiting schools and reporting their observations to the School Board at their public meetings.

It's time for a big change. It's time for parents to be parents again and allow teachers to teach.

Linda Ruble, Pinellas Park

Columbia could return to Pier | Aug. 24

Pier concerns ignored

Development of the St. Petersburg Pier's uplands was not desired by the participants in the numerous workshops. A business owner on Beach Drive has raised relevant questions about how we may have hit the saturation point with restaurants and that more on the Pier approach could tip the scales negatively for all.

Another subject from the workshops was the desire to move the Pier building closer to land. We are all shaking our heads at how the proposed Pier Park has a building at the far end of the long walkway and that vehicular access will not be allowed.

What is going on? Are these public workshops simply an exercise in fulfilling the law about public input? Should we even participate?

Let's take the additional $20 million secured for the Pier and help move the Pier Park building closer to land. The amphitheater should be located at the far end because of noise considerations. Boats could moor nearby and add to the ambiance of an amphitheater, like they do at the marvelous Chene Park on the Detroit River.

I was not the biggest fan of the inverted pyramid, but it did contain many conveniences that our disabled population requires. Pier Park doesn't even come close in this regard.

Moving the building closer to shore would be a major step toward fulfilling this necessity and it will be a boost in our confidence that the public's voice does matter.

Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg

Open up primaries so all have a voice Aug. 17, editorial

We want to vote

I totally agree that primary elections need to be opened to all registered voters. But the system you endorse is far from what is needed.

All registered voters should be able to vote in all elections in an open primary, from dog catcher to president. I shouldn't have to decide as a no-party-affiliation voter to select a party I can vote for in the primary election as you suggest. I may want to vote for the Democrat for mayor, the Republican for Congress or the Libertarian for president. That's why we register NPA; we don't want to be affiliated with any party, but we want to vote. We want to vote for who we think is the best candidate for each position.

We should be allowed to participate, all 158,000 NPA voters in Pinellas County and 2.8 million NPA voters statewide. Our votes are left out of the primary process, so politicians tend to ignore us because we can't vote for or against them in the primary. The end result is that relatively few party-affiliated voters select who will advance to the general election.

I doubt this will ever change, because I believe incumbents fear us and know they would be fired.

James Molloy, Pinellas Park

No end runs around limits on class sizes Aug. 25, editorial

Happy with co-teachers

I am the parent of three children in Pinellas County schools. My children have had co-teachers added at various points in their education, and my daughter is faced with that probability this year as her first-grade class has 24 students.

The experience with co-teachers at my children's school has been wonderful. My son's kindergarten co-teacher is now a full-time teacher at the school. At my children's school, the co-teachers are experienced and certified teachers. The co-teachers have allowed a better student-to-teacher ratio in the classes and more individualized attention. While the process that resulted in co-teaching at my children's elementary may have been faulty — the district cut teachers without considering the year-over-year trend at an A-rated school — the co-teaching model does not have the consequences predicted throughout the district. I am excited that my daughter will have a co-teacher based on my previous experience with the model. If anyone wants to learn more about what is happening at your community school, feel free to support your PTA or attend a SAC (School Advisory Council) meeting. These are public meetings where volunteers and interested parties are welcome.

Christy Rissin, Seminole