Today's Letters: Watching education decline in Florida

Letters to the Editor
Published February 24, 2008

In 1995, as a faculty member of the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School, our governor's alma mater, I stopped advising my juniors and seniors to attend any of the state's schools of higher education. This was about the time when the erosion in the quality of higher education began with the mandatory summer school attendance for all undergraduates.

Remember 1987 when the University of Florida was one of the top 10 research and scholarship campuses in the country? Well I do. I stopped teaching in higher education - Chinese and Japanese history - in 2006 when I realized one of the unintended consequences of the FCAT system: Seniors at USF St. Petersburg didn't have a clue concerning the basic themes of world history and geography. I wasn't paid to teach that information so "the hell with it."

My neighbor, whose daughter is a high school junior, asked me about her attending UF. My response was that it would be a poor choice since the quality of education received would be pedestrian at best.

Since the state schools don't want any more students as it is, perhaps the governor should ask the Legislature to provide a scholarship usable only in out-of-state universities. I retired with 44 years of teaching high school and higher education students and at this time my only solace is that over half of it was in schools outside of Florida.

Dr. Wallace F. Witham, Belleair Bluffs

Rx O.D. Feb. 17, story

Lessons in suffering

Thank you for publishing this article on deaths due to overdose of prescription drugs. I had no idea the problem was so serious.

I have been disabled and in great pain since 1975. I changed my lifestyle completely. I am a Christian and the lessons God has taught me through suffering are tremendous, things I could never have learned any other way. I have learned that I can trust God in every circumstance, especially when it doesn't feel like it.

If I trusted only in my emotions I could have been one of these tragic stories. I have the support of my husband and two wonderful grown children I raised during some very difficult times. The first thing that changed was we had to lower our standard of living, and even in the '70s with the materialistic society we live in it was hard. But we were better off for it. We learned to live on less and I was still able to mentor young teenagers from my bed. It was a great experience for all of us. "With God all things are possible."

Barbara J. Gilligan, Zephyrhills

Rx O.D. Feb. 17, story

Bad medicine message

I am glad more people are being made aware of how many health problems are caused by "medicines."

Consider the message we give children when they are treated with medication to handle learning and behavioral problems: Drugs are the answer! And it could very well be the only and final solution they are ever given.

Sharon Hillestad, Clearwater

Hillary Clinton criticism

Petty attacks

I am saddened and angry at the mean-spirited criticism of Hillary Clinton that constantly appears on the opinion pages of my favorite newspaper. Whether it takes the form of a political cartoon depicting her as tiny and ill-tempered or in columns by the editorial page editor, it is always petty.

This steady barrage does not take issue with substantive matters but yammers away at her personality. Perhaps some people never liked the smartest girl in class. Friends who are Hillary supporters have already canceled their subscriptions in protest. Please give us a more rational, more balanced view of her candidacy.

Ann Cook, Tampa

Primary problem

As a registered Democrat in Florida, I am appalled that there is any talk of allowing Florida delegates to be seated at the national convention. Of course, Hillary Clinton wants this because she won the popular vote in Florida - of those who voted.

For those of us who did vote, we knew what drove us to the polls. We went to vote for or against Amendment 1. We voted for a candidate as an afterthought.

Now, why is this important? Younger voters, educated or uneducated, having a good job or possessing no job, had little reason to go to the polls. They were told that their primary votes would not count and Amendment 1 only applied to homeowners.

To now count the votes of those who voted in the primary would disenfranchise those in Florida who rent. I suspect this would be poor folks, minority folks and young folks.

The only remedies to this situation would be a do-over primary or, more simply, to follow the rules and not seat the delegates.

Patricia Horton, St. Petersburg

Not Hillary's Mammy Feb. 17, Perspective story

The race argument

This column is one of the most racist I have ever read. If you replaced the word black with white everyone would be up in arms over it. If that isn't racist I don't know what is.

Is it okay to say you will vote for Barack Obama because he is black, but terrible to say you would vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman?

Why would someone think they would get more help from a black man because you are black? Why do blacks keep bringing up the past, when it is better left to die? No one alive today in this country has owned a slave! Articles such as this are what keep hate between races alive!

Mary Chandler, St. Petersburg

Not Hillary's Mammy Feb. 17, Perspective story

Stick to qualifications

Wow, is that assistant Princeton professor an angry woman. Barack Obama is a reasonable person who would probably not be pleased to think that people are encouraged to vote for him because he happens to be half black.

Ideally, voters should cast their ballot for whomever best typifies their idea of qualified for such an elevated position, period.

Harriet P. Sherwood, Clearwater

Michelle Obama

Crotzer would understand

I don't really wish for Michelle Obama to "clarify" her now famous quote in the least. "For the first time in my adult lifetime I am really proud of my country." She was born several months after the Kennedy assassination. Her adult lifetime didn't really begin until 1985 or 1988 depending upon whether you count college graduation or law school graduation as placing her in the adult job market.

A recent letter writer says, "I find it quite disturbing that a 44-year-old woman who wants to be first lady can only now be proud of our great country."

Do some math. Alan Crotzer, now age 47, was in prison for approximately that same adult lifetime until DNA testing showed that he was wrongly convicted. Why don't we ask Alan what Michelle meant?

John A. Dew, Tampa