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    Letters to the Editors

    A love of learning can't last under a pile of homework

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 16, 2000


    Re: Homework vs. home life: Board takes a stand, Oct. 11.

    I want to strongly support the idea of less homework and more family life. Yes, practice makes perfect, etc. But the real message of education is to equip the children with the skills to like to learn and to be life-long learners. For 40 years as parent, teacher, grandparent and great-grandparent, I have watched the love of school, friends and learning become the agony of never having time for "fun."

    Kids need time to be kids, to walk home from the local school with neighborhood friends, to talk about kid stuff, to observe the flowers along the way, to walk in a puddle, to kick a stone, to blow off steam in a natural way!

    The children who spend two hours on a bus, or who go from classroom, to car, to homework do not learn to love learning and life. They become angry and blow off steam with vandalism and road-rage as they get older. How do you learn to interact with all kinds of people if you are kept in a cocoon for 18 years and then turned loose with minimum life/people/learning skills?

    How do you learn to adapt to change? Some who use computers to e-mail family now, were walking 5 miles to get to school when they were young. They were prepared for life and change far better than the coddled, sheltered youth today. It cost less, too!
    -- Barbara Purtee, Gulfport

    Homework is a useful tool

    Re: Homework vs. home life: Board takes a stand, Oct. 11.

    If we want the children of today to succeed tomorrow, homework needs to be part of their life. Homework is just a reinforcement of the curriculum taught by the teacher. Homework is a form of communication to the parent letting us know what our children are learning and what they are not learning.

    I have three daughters who are currently in or have been in the Pinellas County fundamental schools, where homework begins in kindergarten. In addition to reinforcement, it instills responsibility beginning at a young age and holds the students accountable for their work. I firmly agree that a child in elementary school should not be spending more than 30 to 45 minutes per evening on homework and two hours for middle school and high school. If they are not able to understand and complete the assignment in that time frame, it is the parents' responsibility to confer with the teacher on where the child may require additional assistance.

    After-school activities and family time are crucial in raising a well-rounded child. But don't frown upon our educators who are trying to help our children succeed and be the leaders of tomorrow.
    -- Kathy Oalmann, Pinellas Park

    Seniors don't deserve the blame

    Re: Oct. 7 letters.

    Why the senior bashing? The majority, after coming home from fighting to preserve freedom and democracy in World War II, worked for low wages, could not afford cruises, had no extra money to invest in the stock market and with their meager salaries tried to save something for their old age so as not to be a burden to anyone. But now, these selfish seniors have the gall to get sick and not be able to afford needed and outlandishly priced medication.

    The real culprits are the health organizations, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies with their exorbitant prices and profits.

    We, too, empathize with our children and grandchildren. They pay thousands a year for private insurance (and are switched from one company and doctor to another) whereas a third of that would pay for government insurance that allows you your choice of physician and would cover everyone.

    We give billions of dollars to other countries that give their citizens free medical care (and college tuition). Shame on us, the wealthiest country in the world.
    -- Gus and Paula Xenakis, Holiday

    Put yourself in another's place

    Re: Money to gamble, letter, Oct. 7.

    We are so quick to judge. There are many reasons people gamble: money, entertainment, boredom.

    My mom has worked hard all her life and lives on a fixed income now. It is very difficult to make $736 stretch for an entire month, but somehow she does it. She lives in a rural area of Minnesota and goes to the casino once in a while, to get out, not to get rich. She takes $10 or $20 with her, and when that is gone, she is gone.

    Health care is a controversial issue that seems to have no solution. Mom spends a great deal of money on medication and rarely complains about it, whereas the loudest squeaky wheel may not need to be greased. Trying to walk in another person's shoes may be the best way to handled all things, including this one.
    -- Sharon L. Schroeder, St. Petersburg

    Limiting government is best approach

    Re: Seniors shouldn't expect handouts from government, letter, Oct. 7.

    The letter writer castigates the seniors of our nation who keep asking for more, more and more from the government. Now it's free drugs. The letter writer's stance deserves applause.

    The free enterprise system built this nation. Further descent into the welfare state will destroy it. I recommend a complete return to free enterprise. Do away with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and all government aid to the various sectors of our economy. Confine government to national security and maintenance of law and order.

    To those who say that oldsters cannot pay the high prices of drugs without government aid, I say that the cessation of government aid would cause the prices of drugs to drop to a level the oldsters could afford. The drug companies must drop their prices to a level at which their customers can buy the drugs.

    If the government makes available a large amount of money for buying drugs, the price of drugs will go up. The drug companies will make a much larger profit. A good share of which will go to campaign contributions to the legislators who pumped out all the extra money. Some of that campaign money will go into a campaign. The larger portion will become profit for the legislators. The senior citizens will find themselves no better off than before.

    Get the government out of business. Get it out of everything except national defense and maintenance of law and order.
    -- R.O. Whitaker, Apollo Beach

    Drug industry is part of capitalism

    Re: Seniors shouldn't have to "shop around" for drugs, letter, Sept. 28.

    The letter writer seems to think that health care is a right and that drugs are somehow not a product of free enterprise. To say that drugs are somehow more sacred than groceries is hogwash. Both are the products of the minds of productive people and are part of the marketplace of goods and services in this economic system called capitalism. The pharmaceutical industry is a commercial venture and to suggest that the companies should give away the fruits of their labor is ludicrous.

    Is the letter writer Bray willing to work for free for someone else's benefit and not be allowed to earn a living based on the value of his labor and the effort of his thought? I certainly am not. Also, hospitals and doctors do not just provide their services. Those services are paid for by someone. Don't fool yourself into thinking that those services just magically appear because of someone's desire. They must be produced by the effort of people who require that they be compensated for their effort. Those "government subsidies" that are referenced are taxes paid by all working Americans. Price control looks good on the surface, if you are one of those receiving the "benefit" of price controls, but in the letter writer's opinion, the "sick and dying" are more important than the living and growing.

    Maybe we should provide free groceries for all, since all of us need food, and not all of us need medication. Then we could force those evil corporate farms to provide us the food. And since we all need to move around, those big car companies should provide us cars . . . Should I continue? Please read Atlas Shrugged.
    Greg Turman, Dunedin

    Pain legislation is welcome

    Re: An attempt to intimidate doctors, Oct. 2.

    I disagree with this editorial. As a physician who has practiced in Florida for almost 16 years and who has dealt with the prescribing of controlled substances for the pain management of patients, I welcome the Pain Relief Promotion Act, S.1272.

    It has been suggested by the bill's detractors that the consequences of this bill could be the increased demand for suicide by patients because of a perceived increase of power to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the subsequent "chilling effect" on physicians' prescribing of controlled substances for the terminally ill.

    Experience shows that this "chilling effect" of which they speak, has been ongoing for many years, by way of the necessary oversight of physicians by federal and state agencies, and may in a small measure be responsible for the current state of affairs regarding the demand for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

    However, for the first time, this bill recognizes that the aggressive treatment of pain carries with it the potential for increased risk of death, the so called "double effect." This should "raise the bar" for the DEA, state departments of professional regulation and even civil litigators when they contemplate prosecuting a physician for aggressive pain management that is well documented. The result being that physicians on the whole should feel less encumbered to provide state of the art pain control for those who truly need it.

    This bill does not increase the power of the DEA. The DEA has had the federal authority to regulate the use of controlled substances for almost 30 years. This bill clarifies what constitutes the legitimate use of controlled substances for the DEA. There is nothing within this bill that increases the DEA's purview or its sanction capability.

    Ultimately, we must be able to provide funding for everyone who requires hospice-type care. But first, we must educate the medical community, the public and the government about when and where Hospice care is necessary.

    Finally, there are those who claim that this bill somehow circumvents or undoes the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. But unless that law specifically states that controlled substances must be used for physician-assisted suicide, which must be precluded by the DEA's federal mandate, then there are alternative methods available to those in Oregon who desire to avail themselves of this service.
    -- Howard Glicksman, M.D., Brooksville

    Boost police presence on U.S. 19

    Re: Making U.S. 19 safer, editorial, Oct. 9.

    All of the projects proposed from the extra $50-million will surely help to make U.S. 19 safer. However, people will continue to die because one key element is missing and no one has yet to mention it -- police.

    State Sen. Jim Sebesta does get it, because if you don't slow down these nuts people will continue to die. Eighty to 90 percent of drivers exceed the speed limit. If you ever drove behind a police car you would have noticed that no one will pass it. Some of those millions should be spent for more police to patrol U.S. 19.
    -- J. Arthur Toscano, Holiday

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