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Letters to the Editors

Parents must help with education, not blame schools

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002

Editor: Re: Parents: Teacher made son sit on floor, Feb. 6 Times:

Lecanto Primary School has put Citrus County on the map. Unfortunately, the publicity is not favorable. Even more unfortunate is the fact that parents do not take the time to learn of programs offered in the Citrus County school system, or become a part of their child's education.

Too many parents blindly sign permission slips without reading what they are for. Even more parents send their children to school with the attitude that it's eight hours of free day care that keeps the child out of their hair. And then, when their precious doesn't get their own way or causes their parents the inconvenience of a parent conference, it's the school's fault.

The LIFE curriculum may not sit well with the Lefke family now, but where was their concern when they signed a permission slip? Why didn't they visit their son's new class and see firsthand what it's all about? Why did they fail to make their child's educational career a part of their business from the beginning?

For most of us, it is a fact of life that if we don't behave appropriately and do our jobs, we aren't going to have the job very long, or the material possessions that everyone else has. We are going to have to do without certain things. Is it asking too much for these ideals to be instilled in children at an early age?

As for Derrico's input, I disagree. The LIFE program is not sending the wrong message. It is, in fact, sending the right message. The classroom is the beginning of life in the real world. In life, you either need to learn to "cope" with it and conform to expectations, or endure the consequences. If not, life as an adult will be a big surprise.

Face it, Mommy and Daddy are not going to be able to bail out the children forever. What a rude awakening it will be for some when Officer Friendly tells them "You are coming with me," and no amount of whining to the press can change it.

It is time for parents to start doing their children a real favor and take an active part in all aspects of their children's lives. It's time to quit blaming the schools for the shortfalls of the family.
-- Pamela Pate, Lecanto

Public safety issues don't get enough serious attention

Editor: Re: Fla. accepts pills for nuke neighbors, Feb. 12 Times:

Just a little thought about the pills about to be issued to the folks near the nuclear power plant in Crystal River.

After the September terrorist attacks, an awakening has occurred as to the safety of nuclear power plants. Up until that fateful day, much was taken for granted, including the security of such facilities. Now the questions of protecting these places has changed from a "What? Me worry?" attitude, to near panic, as indicated in a story published on Jan. 17 in the Times. Up until then, the (Crystal River) plant was regarded as a "leading force in this small city, providing hundreds of high-paying jobs and a work force whose influence transcends economics."

The Sept. 11 incident was a coordinated effort done by at least 19 terrorists acting in four teams, and the results speak for themselves. Security at power reactors was thought to be adequate and deemed sufficient to defend against intruders. Attacks by aircraft or boats were discounted as unrealistic. Reactors are not the only dangers related to nuclear power. Until a way is found to safely and permanently dispose of spent and stored nuclear fuel, this highly dangerous waste material is simply kept in water-filled storage pools. Any loss of water in these virtually unprotected pools would expose the spent fuel, leading to fires and catastrophic releases of radiation. The results could be worse than an actual reactor meltdown.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, our government has held mock exercises with teams from the U.S. military acting as terrorists, and the reactor plants and the storage pools were quickly penetrated by their would-be "attackers."

For anyone to think they can protect the public from radiation in the event of a disaster by issuing potassium iodide pills seems rather naive. In my estimation, extreme physical and mechanical deterrents to sabotage would have a far greater impact on improving safety than worrying about who would distribute, store and handle these magic little pills. Perhaps these politicians live too close to Disney World to have a real perspective of the word "danger."

They would be stuck in the same gridlock as everyone else trying to flee in the event the unthinkable occurred. To be kind, the word evacuation will be just a word, as the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki found out.

In any case, situations related to public safety never seem to get the serious attention one would expect. As an example, how many people have to get killed at a dangerous intersection or on an overcrowded highway before our elected leaders can come to a decision effecting real solutions, without first having to study the obvious problem at nearly the same cost it would take to implement a plan and have the actual work performed by the lowest bidder? In most cases the work has to be repaired to meet the original specifications, at sometimes twice the estimated cost.

Complacency led to the tragic events of Sept. 11. Are we any wiser now? I doubt it. We remove the rubble, erase our memories and life goes on.
-- Fred Weit, Holiday

Halls River Retreat editorials and news coverage appreciated

Editor: Thank you for your recent and past editorials regarding the Halls River Retreat issue.

Also, your coverage in the news sections of the Citrus Times is appreciated.
-- Frank B. Hill, Homosassa

Government is not taking funding of Amtrak seriously

Editor: Re: Train travel escapes to realm of the rich, Feb. 12 column by Jan Glidewell:

While I could quibble with the true cost of using Amtrak, as represented by Glidewell, I won't argue his basic premise that train travel in the U.S. has become too expensive. But Glidewell didn't go into why that is the case.

A few years ago, Amtrak was saddled with a mandate to reach "operational self-sufficiency" by the end of this year. Given Amtrak's current route structure and available equipment, there was no way to increase ridership to a level that would allow it to meet that goal. Amtrak's only alternative was a substantial fare increase.

One might think operational self-sufficiency is a reasonable goal. But the truth is no form of transportation is self-sufficient. President Bush's FY 2003 budget calls for $13-billion to be spent on airline facilities (not including the $15-billion bailout given directly to airlines last fall). Buses and autos would be subsidized to the tune of $33-billion in highway funding.

In contrast, Amtrak's proposed 2003 budget is a paltry $521-million. According to Amtrak President George Warrington, that amount is not enough to operate any trains outside the Northeast Corridor. He is asking for $1.2-billion to keep the system going, which is still a tiny amount compared to the proposed funding for airlines and highways.

The government has never taken its responsibility to fund Amtrak seriously. But in the days following Sept. 11, with airliners grounded nationwide, Amtrak proved its worth. And since then, Amtrak ridership has steadily increased (despite the high fares), while airline travel has declined.

Despite the proven need for a national rail passenger network, however, the government now seems prepared to let Amtrak die. That, in my opinion, would be a national tragedy.
-- Bill Hirschi, Ocala

Dylan: an artistic genius who is constantly reinventing himself

Editor: Re: As long as there's tape, old Dylan won't fade, Feb. 5 Times:

I totally disagree with columnist Jan Glidewell's commentary about the Bob Dylan concert in Tampa. Obviously, Mr. Glidewell did not prepare himself for the concert. He did not listen to Dylan's newest material, which included his most current CD Love and Theft, and his Grammy Award-winner, Time Out of Mind. If he had, he would have been more in tune with Dylan when he was performing.

Bob Dylan just turned 60 years old, and here he is still doing what he loves for the people who love him. If Mr. Glidewell updated himself with Bob's music, then he would be more prepared and more open to who Dylan is today. Bob Dylan takes you on a journey with his words. To have an open mind is very important when listening to his music, at home or when attending one of his concerts.

True, live music sounds different from music recorded in a studio, but so what? The spontaneity of a live performance makes the show quite exciting.

I was honored to be in the presence of artistic genius Bob Dylan. The man constantly reinvents himself and is not afraid of what the old coffeehouse folk fans think of him. That is the reason he is still around.

Mr. Glidewell, please invest some time and money and increase your music collection and your library of Bob Dylan. You, being a writer, will appreciate the word journey Dylan takes you on.
-- Jim Reilly, Spring Hill

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