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Letters to the Editors

Adjustments in attitude also sorely needed

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 26, 2002

Editor: Re: County needs to face future, not hide from it, May 19 opinion column by Jeff Webb:

Hernando must have economic development. Otherwise it will deteriorate. Such development, however, must ensure regular availability of water and related services.

Further, it must be planned for advancement through progressive stages. Again, economic development must be accompanied by cultural development. The former without the latter will contribute little to Hernando's quality of life.

Some changes in community attitude are necessary. Many people in Hernando are without adequate housing, nutrition, health care and other necessities of life.

The gap between the "haves" and "have nots" is a barrier to peaceful living. Cell phone-crazy drivers, intoxicated by speed, lead to accidents and death on highways. A full day's work is not always given for a full day's pay. Telephone callers are answered by a recorded, impersonal recital of buttons to be pressed and a deluge of "music" interrupted by advertisements.

Automation provides a multitude of labor-saving gadgets that have not increased work productivity. Neither have they added to happiness.

Time, the irreplaceable resource, is wasted by lolling on couches watching commercial-saturated television with its manufactured entertainment and its news delivered by those who unconcernedly desecrate the English language.

Students attend school unprepared to learn because of unfavorable home circumstances. Some, undisciplined at home, resent discipline at school and later when employed.

Teachers are frustrated when they are distracted from teaching and employers' staffing costs are increased unnecessarily.

Children, in a sex-riddled culture, give birth to children and so prematurely become financially and emotionally drained. Marriages are dissolved sometimes because wedlock has become a padlock. Drugs are everywhere. "Please" and "Thank you" seldom are heard in a "me-only" society. "No smoking," "No parking," "Wash hands" and stop signs are ignored because freedom too often is considered a license to ignore rules and regulations.

Today's heroes frequently are multimillionaire professional athletes who snatch last-minute victory. Some people don't bother to RSVP. Those who do may not attend.

Elected officials sometimes forget their campaign promises and ethical values when vested interests, flaunting their largess, dance around them.

Not all citizens who complain about what they believe is local government mismanagement bother to vote.

A change of community attitude is essential for cultural development to accompany economic development. Such change necessitates everyone giving to others the same consideration and rights they claim for themselves.

Furthermore, this change is the responsibility of every individual. It is not a responsibility of local government. Hernando's future will be what changes of community attitude are made today.
-- James A. Willan, Brooksville

Too focused on the negative in reading the FCAT results

Editor: Re: Analysis of Hernando County's FCAT scores:

Staff writer Robert King's article regarding the Hernando County school system was extremely negative.

To simply take statistical numbers off the Internet and interpret them, without soliciting a quote from any teacher in the county clearly indicates a bias toward the school system.

We certainly know one thing: Mr. King is an avid supporter of the education governor and an expert, along with his cronies, on the "A-Plus farce." Therefore, I will use some of his expertise in elaborating.

"Schools across Florida were buried Wednesday in an avalanche of FCAT scores that may take weeks to dig out from."

This being said, how was it that by merely reading numbers off the Internet, Mr. King could paint a picture so bleak for all but two of the schools in the county?

"Eastside Elementary's fourth-graders had the lowest scores in the county in all three tested subjects." What a morale booster for a faculty that was demoralized by receiving a "D" in the illustrious governor's grading scale last year.

Why didn't you write about the fact that their third grade reading and math scores increased, as well as their fourth and fifth grade math scores.

Apparently, the negative is much more pleasing to you and your paper.

"All four middle schools finished below the state average in writing." Mr. King, since you're such an expert in interpreting the FCAT scores, I challenge you to come to "all four middle schools" and explain the state's interpretation of the difference between their 3.8 and the following: Fox Chapel and Powell's 3.7 and West Hernando and Parrott's 3.5. How many students, Mr. King, did this involve in each school?

Realistically, how far apart was each of the schools from the state average? We have been waiting for years for someone like you to explain how the Department of Education creates their statistics.

At one time we had a Young Author's Conference. But, one of the genius administrators in the county office felt it was too much work to continue.

Now there's talk of revitalizing it once again. Since you're so proficient in writing, perhaps you'll assist in improving our writing scores.

"As a class, Hernando High's ninth graders finished below the state average in both subjects they were tested in, reading and math."

When I read your table from the Department of Education, only Springstead's ninth graders improved in math by a whopping 2 points. The other high schools dropped in reading as well, but only one was singled out.

Personally, I don't think you're qualified to teach math either, Mr. King.

Mr. King is no different than the politicians who run around the state bashing public education.

Yet, neither will take the time to visit schools and truly see the dedication of educators. It's no wonder the public is misinformed.

By the way, Mr. King, one of my students has once again been recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English as a "Promising Young Writer."

Our department plans to recognize her and the other three participants at the June 4 School Board meeting. Interested? Probably not!
-- Walter T. Cermak, language arts teacher, Parrott Middle School

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