1. Letters to the Editor

Saturday's letters: Do your part to improve Florida

Published Dec. 16, 2016

Constitution Revision Commission

Do your part to improve Florida

Every two decades, Floridians have an opportunity to impact the future of our state through the Constitution Revision Commission, which in 2017-18 will review the state's Constitution and make recommendations for change. The commission is powerful; its recommendations go directly to the ballot.

The success of the coming CRC depends on having members who come in without commitments to specific issues or interests and who desire to make the state better with quality amendments intended to improve our state's governance. Anyone can apply to be a member.

Appointments will be made in early 2017 by the governor, Senate president, speaker of the House and chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. Once the commission is established, citizens can attend public hearings throughout the state to share ideas and receive feedback on potential ballot proposals. After gathering public input, the commission will draft proposals that will go directly to the 2018 ballot. Amendments receiving 60 percent of the vote will then become part of the Constitution.

Well over 100 people have already applied for the CRC, but there is still time to put your name in. Being chosen to serve on one of the most influential bodies in Florida is a great honor but also a solemn duty. Those selected wield great power to promote significant changes to our Constitution.

As supporters of creative, bold solutions to the issues facing our state, we encourage a broad spectrum of Floridians to apply to the CRC to ensure the ideas the commission members proffer will be as diverse as our population and reflect the public's goals for the state. Once the CRC is named, citizens should monitor the process, testify at hearings, and vote on the commission's product. The CRC happens every 20 years; it is an opportunity too important to miss.

Lester Abberger, chair of the board, and Carol Weissert, director, LeRoy Collins Institute, Tallahassee

Florida higher education

Striving for high goals

The state's Higher Education Coordinating Council recently set an important goal of 55 percent of Florida's working-age population attaining college degrees or professional certificates by 2025. It is the first time the state has set such a specific degree-attainment goal, and it comes as our State University System continues to see improvement in graduation and retention rates due to performance funding. Florida now has the best graduation rate among the 10 largest states.

Currently, 46.9 percent of Floridians of working age have degrees. Yet the state projects that an estimated 64 percent of Florida's jobs in 2025 will require education beyond high school.

The path to meeting any higher education benchmark begins long before a student arrives on our campuses. The obvious start comes in kindergarten and continues through grade 12, as students get a foundation of learning.

Also critical to getting more students into our workforce with college degrees and certifications: the ability to pay for college without taking on debt. Florida's Prepaid College Plans offer an affordable way for families to save for college.

Legislation initiated by Gov. Rick Scott has allowed the Florida Prepaid College Board since 2014 to dramatically reduce — and hold the line on — Prepaid Plan prices, with options as low as $47 a month. Open enrollment for prepaid plans runs through Feb. 28. I encourage you to go to to learn more.

Collective, coordinated efforts like this are building a stronger Florida.

Marshall Criser III, Tallahassee

The writer is chancellor of the State University System of Florida and a member of the Florida Prepaid College Board of Directors.

Union leader: Trump misled Carrier workers Dec. 11, commentary

More publicity stunts

Donald Trump's tweets about United Steelworkers 1999 union president Chuck Jones show his disregard for American workers. Many of us already knew how he felt about us before the election, based on his use of temporary foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago, his use of overseas factories to produce his products, the total lack of knowledge of how his golf club employees receive their health care, and the many lawsuits by stiffed contractors and disgruntled employees.

Trump tells Jones to spend less time talking and more time working, although as a union president Jones' full-time job is to represent his members. Jones had every right to call out the misleading numbers Trump continues to throw around. The whole Carrier circus was nothing more than a publicity stunt by our entertainer in chief.

Jo Hawkins, Spring Hill

Trump's wrecking ball | Dec. 11, editorial

Change is needed

Based on the Times' editorial assessment of the Cabinet nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, it seems the paper feels the name should be Department for the Status Quo of Public Schools. With the transition from manufacturing to a technical economy, never before has a good education been so critical in determining the future success of a child. And it is clear that too many children across the country are not being provided that possibility due to predominantly sticking with conventional methods.

Perhaps a wrecking ball is needed to finally institute the necessary changes to make ending "education malpractice" an achievement instead of a continuing empty declaration.

Don Henderson, Valrico

Fake news

'Fake' doesn't cover it

The word "fake" has been used for some news stories that were intentionally written to dupe the public. But "fake" does not adequately describe these stories or their authors. In some instances, better descriptions would be psychopathic lies or fraud.

We have grown accustomed to fake (or faux) leather, diamonds and crab meat, but libel remains grounds for a lawsuit.

John Dalton, St. Petersburg