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Teen's ordeals prove schools' inferior quality

Letters to the Editor
Published February 5, 2006

We had heard rumors from friends that the quality of public education in the Sunshine State was possibly not up to the standards we had grown accustomed to in upstate New York. So when my family and I moved here last summer, we had a feeling that my wife's 17-year-old younger sister, who moved with us and would be spending her senior year in a new school, might have to make more than the usual adjustments.

Not only did the rumors we heard prove to be true, but it's safe to say they underestimated the level of incompetence that my sister-in-law has had to endure on a daily basis during her stay at Wesley Chapel High School.

Some examples:

My sister-in-law's guidance counselor can never be found. There are days where she is forced to skip several classes while waiting outside her counselor's office. This is not because of some required disciplinary action. Rather, my sister-in-law needs a school official to generate official transcripts for applying to colleges. Needless to say, she has had to resort to getting the necessary paperwork from her guidance counselor at her previous high school in New York.

Secondly, my sister-in-law has applied to and meets the minimum requirements for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. We checked the status of her application online and found some missing and inaccurate information. The instructions on the Web site tell the user to see their guidance counselor in order to correct these inaccuracies. After missing another class, she was finally able to see her counselor and ask for help only to be told, "I don't really know that much about the Bright Futures Scholarship."

It gets worse. My sister-in-law is enrolled in an Honors English class. One would expect a superior level of instruction and engagement by students in a course with such a label, but the quality of this class has deteriorated to the point that it has effectively become a study hall. Currently, to make the best use of her time, my sister-in-law simply reads or completes homework for other classes.

In addition to the effects of overcrowding, she has had to deal with not having a locker and also does not have all the textbooks for each of her classes. Several of her classmates are rowdy and frequently engage in fistfights right in the hallways. She is scared to death to ride the bus.

In any type of private business, this lack of discipline and efficiency would lead the offending employees to be fired or cause the company to go out of business. But in the case of our public schools, we are forced to tolerate this woefully inadequate level of service. I am truly embarrassed by the state of affairs in my newly adopted home. If my sister-in-law's experiences are the norm throughout the state of Florida, then I can only conclude that the quality of public education in this state is utterly atrocious.

-- Alexander H. Lee, Wesley Chapel

Developers, insurers should help fix insurance problems

Why does Citizens insurance have to be higher than every other insurance company? Last year, I was insured by a private company. This year my policy was canceled, and Citizens' quote was more than 300 percent higher.

The only private company that would insure us was Lloyd's of London at 150 percent higher and a $7,200 deductible. This is unacceptable. Let's use some of that surplus in the state budget to shore up the insurance fund.

One letter writer suggested we give up our cable television and eating out, and we should drive an older car. What next? Fewer groceries, no new clothes and unemployment when we economize?

Let's fix the problem. Stop letting greedy developers build on sinkhole properties and stop being so quick to condemn property for sinkhole that don't deserve to be. Make some of the companies that want our auto and life insurance business to also issue homeowner policies at reasonable rates.

-- Peter Wagner, New Port Richey

Legg and Fasano's legislation will help Pasco homeowners

Re: No cherry-picking? No insurers, Feb. 2 letter

This letter is in reference to Arthur Hayhoe's criticism of Sen. Mike Fasano and Rep. John Legg for working on legislation to rein in the continued increases of homeowners insurance. I have noticed Mr. Hayhoe is always critical but never submits a solution to the problem.

The Fasano and Legg legislation, if passed and signed by the governor, will help in getting policyholders out of Citizens Insurance and back in to the private market where they will have a choice. Fasano and Legg have recognized the crisis that exists here in Pasco and throughout the state. Homeowners are selling their homes, or they are losing them because they can no longer afford the annual 100 percent increases in their homeowners insurance policies. Mr. Hayhoe, for some reason, wants to protect the big insurance companies while Fasano and Legg want to protect the consumer.

Powerful special interest goups in Tallahassee would benefit with defeat of these proconsumer bills and I have no doubt those special interest groups will fight to kill the legislation. As a homeowner and consumer, I applaud Sen. Fasano and Rep. Legg for having the courage to take on the special interest in Tallahassee and proposing an idea to help stop this crisis, one that most in Florida government have ignored.

-- Roland J. Quinn, Port Richey

Member of the 442nd earns thanks for saving father's life

Re: Could This Man Be a Hero? Jan. 15 Bill Stevens column

-- Thank you for the fine article on Tamotsu Ono. As a member of the 442nd, he is definitely a hero in my eyes. The reason is simple. My father was a member of the Lost Brigade in World War II and without the rescue by the 442nd, I probably would not be here.

With so many of the Greatest Generation now passed on, everyone should receive the appropriate acknowledgement. My father did not talk about the war much but he often talked of the bravery of the Nei-Sei in the 442nd, and he was proud to have served with soldiers like them on our side.

Please forward my thanks to Mr. Ono and my eternal gratitude for serving his country so well.

-- Charles W. Smith, Tucson, Arizona

[Last modified February 5, 2006, 01:22:20]

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