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Don't turn educators into mere workers

Letters to the Editor
Published February 18, 2007


Over the past 40 years of my professional career as an educator and psychologist, and now a distinguished research professor at the University of South Florida (Tampa campus), I have seen a destructive erosion of the professional/occupational caste systems.

I recently have been seeing school superintendents and university presidents quoted as saying they run their school systems and universities "like a business." For centuries, leaders of education systems and institutions used terms such as students, teachers/professors and learning/education. Now they use terms such as customers, producers, output units and products.

What concerns me (and what I am seeing) is that when you treat teachers and professors like faculty, they think, feel and act like educators (i.e., professionals); but when you treat teachers and faculty like producers and staff, they think, feel and act like workers.

A school system doesn't just employ teachers to work in it - the teachers are the school system. A university doesn't just employ faculty to work in it - the faculty is the university.

What do we want for our children (our leaders of tomorrow) - educational systems and institutions or businesses?

William G. Emener, Ph.D., St. Pete Beach


Try Europe's system 

Class dismissed Feb. 11, Floridian story

Regarding the frustration and fear that Gibbs High School teachers expressed in their letter published the Sunday Times: I used to substitute teach in Virginia schools and found the same problem there with student violence and abuse. I think it's rampant throughout the national school system. It's clear something must be done.

I have long felt that U.S. schools should follow the European model. After the eighth grade, students take a test to enter high school. It's a fair test, but comprehensive. If they fail, they go into a technical school where they are taught to be mechanics, plumbers, electricians or even waiters. Common sense tells us these student are not going to be scholars anyway, so why not teach them a trade?

If they cannot behave themselves at the technical schools, they are either kicked out or entered into a boot camp run by retired soldiers where they are taught respect and discipline. They can opt to take the high school test again if they want or reapply for the technical school, but no violence or abuse is tolerated.

Students should not have to face violence when entering an educational setting.

Don Hayes, Tampa


Let others help 

Black churches must address HIV/AIDS Feb. 11, Bill Maxwell column

While the first step of so-called "black churches" should be to get involved in fighting against AIDS, other people should back them up. It is something that should be pursued by any other church that can be of assistance.

While black churches should not forsake homosexuals, other churches should not either. Other churches have the ability to go to a black church to tell them about the issue the African-American population has with AIDS. These people need help from other churches and organizations, not just their own churches.

African-Americans can attend any church they like, so other churches should extend an invitation to anyone who wants to be there, including homosexuals and people who have AIDS. Schools should start programs to teach all students about the threat AIDS poses. This could greatly contribute to fixing this problem.

Lauren Olfson, Valrico


Why delay the end? 

On Iraq, our empty chamber Feb. 11, Philip Gailey column

Philip Gailey's comments touch on the frustration of what to do about a war gone amok. Political doublespeak, useless resolutions, a battered administration due to arrogance and wrong-headedness may well have doomed this effort early on.

What more can be accomplished and how much more in life and limb will Congress and the president sacrifice to delay the ultimate catastrophic failure in Iraq?

The usual spin used by both parties is to blame faulty intelligence triggering the pre-emptive strike. The real culprit is not the intelligence but the administration's decision to go to war, a choice that did not adequately consider the response from the enemy. The administration ignored all warnings, crushed internal opposition, vilified doubting allies, and trivialized Saddam Hussein's overtures to halt the inevitable invasion. So, the war!

It seems to me we need to pull out. At least we will save lives and refocus on our own domestic issues, New Orleans being one, health care another, education another. There are so many, at least $8-billion a month's worth.

Marc Yacht, Hudson


Talking is better 

Separated by Castro, a kiss Feb. 11, story

Lazara Pittman nailed it when she said that "talking works better than scorn." Why is that concept so hard for members of the U.S. Congress to get through their thick skulls when it comes to Cuba? It is so painful to see these politicians be so stubborn about something that could change so many lives in such a wonderful way.

I applaud the humanitarian work that Magda Davis is doing in Cuba. If only all of us had the courage like Davis to say "I have to do what I think is right, not what you think is right," what a different world this would be.

And bravo to Pittman for realizing she had erred by turning her back on Davis. Hopefully, this story will encourage others to get involved and to tell Washington it's time for change. Let's start talking.

J. Larry McElveen, Safety Harbor


Imports add value 

"Made in China" is good for me, bad for us Feb. 11, Robyn Blumner column

This was a good article and made some good points, but I think Robyn Blumner drastically underestimates the value of cheap, imported goods to the economy. It's a lot more than "cheap shirts" as she puts it. It is nearly everything except most food and most shelter. Imported goods save the average American, I would guess, at least $1,000 a year - probably a lot more. This is a huge benefit to the quality of life for peasants like me.

Also, the competition has really lit a fire under many industries. Imagine what we would be driving right now if it weren't for Japanese vehicles and the gut-busting efforts of GM, Ford and Chrysler to match their quality. Ditto construction equipment, computers, telephones, etc.

Also, free trade doesn't seem to have hurt the unemployment rate. It's as low as it's ever been. Anyone willing and able to work can find a good job.

Pete Wilford, Holiday


Weed worries 

Power plant Feb. 11, story

Planting on a 15,000-acre site, a noxious weed that has been named one of the hundred worst invaders of the world, will take Florida to a new height in folly.

Eradication efforts would be like sending a thousand pounds of feathers out on the wind and then trying to retrieve them, no matter how many bonds are posted.

Catherine Quindiagan, St. Petersburg


A puzzlement

My wife was doing a crossword puzzle in the Feb. 8 edition of the Times and asked me for a four-letter word for 29 Down that meant "Refusing to listen."

"Bush," I replied and we both had a great laugh.

What is a word that means "funny" and "not funny" at the same time?

Ray L. Reeves, Largo

[Last modified February 17, 2007, 21:03:33]

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