Today's Letters: Choice system seriously flawed
By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published April 24, 2007
I am writing you as a concerned parent involved in this whole process called "school choice." I would like to call it "You get what you get" - and what is that old kindergarten saying? - "and you don't pitch a fit." I am pitching a fit!
Over the past few years, we have not been a part of this process called choice because of grandfathering. As of this year, that was not the case. I followed all of "their" rules. I called when they told me to and I registered the schools of our choice, only to receive a phone call a week later telling me I had not made a choice. The computer system was going to make the choice for me if I did not call by the deadline.
I then decided to go online and register my school choice. I thought since the phone system was not working, why not try the computer? I received an automated phone call the next day saying that my child's selections had been received and the phone call was an error. Calls were made to more than 300,000 homes that night!
I was then told last week by my child's school that I had not made a choice and one would be decided for me. I called the special number and was told I would receive a letter by the end of the week. I did receive a letter stating my child was on a waiting list and I was to wait for my assigned time to call so Pinellas County Schools could tell me where there was a space for my child.
I received the letter on Saturday. How convenient! Can't do anything about it on the weekend!
Why do I have to call Pinellas County schools? Isn't that what the whole "choice" process is all about? The right to choose your own school in your district?
My child does not have a school for next year and once again I am jumping through hoops trying to do exactly what is asked of me. I have done everything they wanted me to do and all I want is for my child to attend the school of my choice. Yes, I am pitching a fit!
Susan Jones, Palm Harbor
Don't neglect 'great' generation
The recent article about the shrinking number of volunteers speaks volumes to those of us involved in trying to provide help to those who need it most. I'm referring to those labeled "the greatest generation" - those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II.
The "greatest generation" is becoming the "forgotten generation." We provide no-cost services to the area's older adults and people with disabilities so they can live independently in their own homes.
We rely on volunteers to provide these services, things like transportation to doctor's appointments, grocery shopping and helping inside or outside the home. It takes only a couple of hours once a week to make life a little bit easier for someone.
The days of three or four generations living under the same roof are long gone. Families are spread across the nation and the world. People just don't have time anymore.
We provide services for hundreds of Pinellas residents and have hundreds more on our waiting list. Please consider lending a hand. Call Faith in Action of Upper Pinellas at (727) 738-4307 or visit our Web site at www.fiaup.org for information.
Joe Sutsko, Dunedin
Ruth Eckerd low on safety features
On Sunday afternoon my wife and I attended the play Chicago at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The play was fantastic, and since we both grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, it added a little something extra.
However, I can say nothing good about Ruth Eckerd Hall except that the air-conditioning works well.
Many years ago on our first visit to the hall, I noticed that there were no lighted exit signs. There were cardboard signs taped by the doors. Exit signs have since been added as per code but they were not lighted throughout the afternoon.
How does Ruth Eckerd Hall management get away with this? Any place that invites the public in should have exit signs illuminated while the facility is occupied.
Who designed this theater? There are no aisles except for the two at either side of the theater. We were seated in seats 19 and 20, so I estimate there to be about 60 seats in a row. People must stand to let anyone pass to get to their seats. The poor guy in the middle must pass over some 25 or more people to get to his seat.
As for the seats, they're just a step above what you might expect in a commercial airliner (a little more leg room).
P.S. The St. Petersburg Times advertisement was very well projected on the wall.
George R. Fletcher, Tarpon Springs
Your voice counts
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