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Don't blame teachers for student failings

Letters to the Editor
Published February 11, 2007


How good is teacher? Bonus plan may tell Feb. 4, story 

In your report, you talked about what the parents would do with the information about the rankings of teachers. I wonder why the issue of student performance was not even a factor in your article. Teachers are going to be ranked using the FCAT. This would not be a problem if the teachers were taking the test.

What about the students who sit in our classes and consistently do not pay attention, do not put forth any effort and then score poorly? How can I be penalized for that?

If I go to the doctor and I am sick and he gives me medicine but I do not take it, can I blame the doctor if I get worse? This is exactly what happens to the children who score the lowest on the FCAT. They have not done what teachers have told them to do to improve, and as they get older the achievement gets worse because the tasks get harder.

How is it my fault? How can the quality of my teaching be judged based on a test? They have not done what I, the professional, have told them will help them improve, but when they get worse it is my fault. That is ridiculous.

How about the parents? There is so much research that supports the idea that the achievement level of a student in school is directly related to what happens from birth to 4 years old - before students even hit the doors of a school. So why aren't we rating parents?

How about the kid who moves four times during the year because his family is so unstable? Or the kid who has no support at home because his parents are always working? We the teachers are working with humans, not animals that we can train to do tricks and perform. Why was nothing said about these things in your article?

Kathy Zell, St. Petersburg


Parenting is key 

How good is teacher? Bonus plan may tell Feb. 4, story

Publishing the names of the top teachers according to FCAT results is not the fix that education needs.

Helping parents effectively parent is key. That includes developing early literacy skills by conversing with their child and providing real-life experience so they can understand the meaning behind words. This is vital for reading comprehension. Parents need to know they play a vital role in the education of their children. They are essential partners in education and the full responsibility should never lie on the teachers' shoulders.

I am an Exceptional Student Education teacher dealing with students who try to do their best, and I resent the fact that only the FCAT determines teacher effectiveness. Rewarding only the top 25 percent discredits all the other hard-working teachers in Florida.

Maureen Otteni, St. Petersburg


Let's rank others

The teacher bonus plan - what a great idea! But why leave out all the other public servants who might "deserve" a "bonus"?

I would love to know whether the police officer or judge that I may come up against has a history of doing less than an ideal job. And let's publish a list of all of Florida's legislators, county commissioners, etc., with their rankings from "best" to "worst." Do this right before elections, of course, when it can do the most "good."

I'm sure all of Florida's public servants are now clamoring for the chance to get a "bonus" after first being evaluated and publicly exposed via whatever criteria are in vogue. Anything less is pure favoritism toward teachers. Isn't it?

RuthAnne Morris, Clearwater


Hampered in history 

Desire Ph.D. in history? Depart Feb. 4 Perspective commentary by Howard Troxler

At last, someone has stated in a public forum the dilemma faced by those of us who have waited in vain for the University of South Florida to implement a doctorate program in history. In a world where tornadoes destroy communities, homeless people live in tents and others cannot afford insurance, the issue may seem trivial to some. For those of us who cannot achieve our desired educational goals without uprooting our family and giving up our careers, it is disturbing.

I earned my master's degree in history from the University of South Florida in 1982. For almost 25 years, I have hoped and dreamed of an opportunity to receive my doctorate in history as well. It is like completing three-quarters of a relay and then being sent to wait in the stands without finishing the race.

Providentially, I have had a successful career in a public history field where a doctorate was not required. I am making an impact on historic preservation and heritage education in my community.

To know that interschool squabbling and territorial rights are preventing me from reaching my personal goal is disheartening. I urge the University of South Florida and the Board of Regents to rethink their decision.

Thanks to Howard Troxler for expressing what many of us feel.

Cathy Slusser, Terra Ceia


Needed knowledge 

Desire Ph.D. in history? Depart Feb. 4, commentary

This article brought to my attention that we have no such program at our area's major university, USF. As a planner, I see knowledge of history as a basic requirement for our communities as we continue to grapple with what to do in our future. How can we know where to go without knowing where we have been? How can we avoid the mistakes of the past without knowing what they were and understanding what happened?

At a minimum we need a Ph.D. program at one of the USF campuses and then we need that program as a resource to our communities.

Brian Smith, Pinellas County planning director, Ozona


The face of football 

What is the score now? Feb. 4, Perspective commentary by Eric Deggans

Since it was decided that the two football teams going to the Super Bowl were ones led by African-American coaches, one of whom is Tampa Bay's beloved Tony Dungy, I read many articles elaborating on why most of us would be rooting for him to win. I also wondered how long it would take before I would be "lectured" once again on how long it has taken for African-Americans to get to the places they hold in football.

Thanks to Eric Deggans, I didn't have to wait long, but I am saddened that for once we couldn't celebrate something wonderful and leave race out of it. I am a white person who has a great deal of respect for Tony Dungy, and I am no longer an avid football fan. I admire Tony because he is a gentleman and a role model. It is these things I see first about him. It is almost an afterthought to me that he is black.

Deggans asks, "So how did pro sports go from leading our dreams of racial equality to bringing up the rear?" He reminds us that more than 70 percent of football players are black, and whines that there are still not enough black coaches, owners or sports writers. So I'll ask him to explain why there are so few role models in pro sports anymore, why so many of the players have rap sheets, and why they find it necessary to "strut their stuff" every time they catch a ball or run fast.

So, Mr. Deggans, is it safe for me to assume that pro sports has deteriorated to the point it has because 70 percent of the players are black? Can I also assume that you advocate at least 70 percent of the fans in the stands paying the exorbitant ticket prices, which help pay the outrageous player salaries, should be black also? Somehow I think not, but thanks for reminding me why I am no longer a fan.

Sharon Lam, Hudson


Jeb much admired 

Why so many people are glad Jeb is gone Feb. 4, Bill Maxwell column

So Bill Maxwell is glad Jeb Bush is gone. I am not surprised!

I traveled throughout the United States during Jeb's tenure as governor. The rest of the nation was and is impressed with Jeb Bush. They include other states' governors, business leaders and ordinary citizens - many of whom expressed the wish that he was their governor.

As usual, Maxwell's views are one- dimensional and shortsighted.

John Hungerford, Palm Harbor


Good riddance 

Why so many people are glad Jeb is gone Feb. 4, Bill Maxwell column

Bill Maxwell's column was right on the money concerning Jeb Bush. Bush was the most arrogant governor that this state has had. He left office leaving Gov. Charlie Crist having to clean up the Department of Children and Families, the insurance crisis and property taxes. All three were a disaster under Jeb Bush.

As far as cutting taxes, Bush only cut taxes that benefited those who needed it the least - not the middle class or the poor. All I can say is "good riddance to Bush." And to Gov. Crist I say, "We are happy to have a governor who has the people's interest at heart."

Glen Copeland, Wesley Chapel

[Last modified February 11, 2007, 01:11:05]

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