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    Letters to the Editors

    Disrespect is a lesson learned at home

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 11, 2002

    Re: Respect for teachers has declined while the job has gotten harder, by Bill Maxwell, Aug. 4.

    There is a very simple answer to the lack of respect for the teachers, and it's the same problem that exists in almost all walks of life today. The problem begins at home, where Mom and Dad are no longer in control, but Junior and Junior Miss run the show. Rather than make a fuss, Mom and Dad go along with the kids, and whatever they want they get. If children can disrespect their parents and get by with it, it's a lot easier to disrespect a teacher.

    For some unknown reason, parents still want children today, but they tend to leave the raising of those children to the teachers and the babysitters and anyone else who can tolerate them for a few hours. So naturally the teachers will have a much harder time trying to get any work or any respect from students who have never learned what respect is from Mom and Dad.

    Yes, it is sad, and I guarantee you that if the parents of today don't wake up and take back control of the home and the children, one day it will be impossible for children to get an education, even those who really want one. Imagine even one child in a classroom telling the teacher where to get off; now you have 10-15 students doing the same thing. What teacher can even think in such an atmosphere, much less try to teach?

    Until parents demand respect from their children, school teachers will not get the respect they deserve. This is sad indeed. Where oh where are the "good ol' days," when getting in trouble at school meant big, big trouble at home?
    -- Fran Glaros, Clearwater

    A lost era

    Re: Respect for teachers has declined while the job has gotten harder, by Bill Maxwell.

    Though the time and place were quite different, I share Maxwell's memories of his teachers and his love and respect for them. I, too, am grateful for a good public school education, mine a generation or more before his and in another world, New York City. My parents, like Maxwell's, and my community, placed a high premium on education. They cooperated with the teachers and never doubted a teacher's reliability or competence. They had no reason to. Good behavior in the classroom was a given and education was the goal of both students and teachers.

    Back then, as now, the teachers were mostly women. In the old days, they had few alternative career opportunities. For the very same reason, they were exploited. School hours were compatible with homemaking and motherhood. Families and ethnic groups lived in close proximity, so babysitting and other help was available and within the family. Many things have changed with time, though, and teaching has lost both its virtual monopoly for educated, talented and ambitious women.

    Women have far more options today than when I was a schoolchild. More challenging and gratifying professions are open to them than during my youth. It has been slow in coming, to be sure, but traditionally male employment is now widely available to qualified women.

    This leads me to posit that the pool of prospective teachers has lost many of its best candidates. If true, there will be a long wait before the teachers and the schools return to those that Maxwell and I so fondly recall.
    -- Seymour S. Bluestone, Clearwater

    Constitution's problems

    Re: Parties differ in constitutional views, letter, Aug. 4.

    The writer tells us he is a conservative who was a liberal in his "naive" youth; therefore, he knows how liberals think, but "the same cannot be said of the vast majority of liberals concerning conservatives."

    I am the writer's mirror image -- a liberal who, in my "naive" youth, was a conservative -- but have, mercifully, learned over a long lifetime that much conservative, not liberal, thinking is "verifiably false."

    He claims to have read the Constitution, which he calls a "timeless masterpiece." In fact, our founding fathers created two timeless masterpieces: the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, but the Constitution hardly qualifies.

    A Constitution so rock-solid in favor of slavery that it took a civil war, the bloodiest war in U.S. history, three amendments (13th, 14th and 15th) and almost a hundred years to abolish it; a Constitution that provides for equal representation in the U.S. Senate for Wyoming, with a population of 493,782, and California, population 33,871,648 (2000 Census); a Constitution that allows for a panel of nine judges to appoint a president who received a minority of the popular vote; a Constitution that enables citizen-owners of 200-million guns to kill 30,000 of their fellow citizens each year, is no timeless masterpiece of the democratic ideal. In many respects, it defies the principle of proportional representation.

    This is not, in the writer's words, a "sneering dismissal" of a conservative's viewpoint, just a liberal's attempt to get at the truth.
    -- Joseph H. Francis, St. Petersburg

    Serving the few

    Re: Cheney becomes GOP's $12-million man for '02, Aug. 4.

    Enough is enough. You write that an open-ended contract was awarded to Halliburton Co. (Dick Cheney) by the U.S. Army (Secretary Thomas White, formerly of Enron), allowing Halliburton to spend whatever it takes to keep "the troops happy." We should have known when they received more than $100-million in contributions from the "Ken Lays and Enrons" of America that this was inevitable.

    George Bush and Dick Cheney promised to bring "ethics" back to the White House; however, they forgot to tell us about Harken and Halliburton.

    For their $100-million, the contributors received a tax cut to alleviate their "heavy corporate and personal tax burden," the result of which was to take a budget surplus and turn it into a $165-billion deficit in the space of two years. This does not answer the promise of being the president and vice president of "all the people."

    Because of this repayment to contributors, there is no money to carry out their promise of prescription drug help to seniors, help to schools, children of working parents or help to states for roads, bridges, etc. And because the tax cut is heavily "back-loaded," the worst is yet to come.

    No, I am not a "bleeding-heart liberal Democrat" with a grudge against this administration. I am registered "Independent" and now feel I was "suckered."
    -- Stanley Massarsky, Palm Harbor

    Narrow view of Cuba

    Re: Behind Castro's handshake lurk generations of suffering, Aug. 4.

    I am very disappointed with Mary Jo Melone's Aug. 4. column. The whole topic was from one disgruntled immigrant who has been brainwashed from childhood. There have been hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who have visited Cuba and can tell a completely different version. I have wondered for years why, as citizens of a "free" country, we are prohibited from travel to Cuba.

    Personally, I admire Tampa Mayor Dick Greco for standing up for democratic principles.
    -- Eugene H. Beals, St. Petersburg

    Trip was indefensible

    I am a Cuban-American living in this great country for 42 years; I participated in the frustrated Bay of Pigs invasion and am a retired vice president of one of the largest banks in the nation.

    I am very sad, shamed and disappointed by Mayor Dick Greco's recent, uncalled-for trip to Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro. How can the mayor defend his trip to Cuba? He knew from the beginning that he was doing wrong in going to Cuba when he did not even announce his trip. I believe that he was ill-advised and influenced by his friends who accompanied him, based on their greed to start planting the seeds for future commerce and trade with Cuba after the economic embargo may be lifted. His excuses are unacceptable because he was and is very aware of all the abuses and atrocities the dictator Castro has committed against the people living in Cuba as well as the hundreds of thousands of Cuban exiles in this beautiful and compassionate United States of America.

    Lifting the embargo will not help the Cuban people but only a few high officials in the communist government of Fidel Castro.

    Castro's government will start crumbling when Cubans in exile stop sending U.S. dollars to relatives and friends and cancel trips to the island to bring them nice things from this country. Also, misinformed and confused American tourists should stop visiting Cuba through other countries. Then the Cubans living in Cuba may lose their fear of overthrowing the dictatorship when they realize they do not have the dollars to buy what they need.
    -- Armando Ramos, Dunedin

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