Sunday, December 10, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: University funding fuels Florida's economy

Corcoran targets college spending | March 10

Universities spur our economy

The uncertain nature of pure research can make it easy to claim that the frontier of science is a waste of tax dollars. In 1898, the scientist J.J. Thomson of Cambridge University was exploring electricity. Parts of Manhattan were already electrified, but there was a conundrum regarding how electricity traveled: as a particle or a wave? Thomson settled the matter with his discovery of the electron. Following the breakthrough, he noted the obscurity of the work in a toast: "To the electron — may it never be of any use to anybody."

Yet it is that single discovery that makes much of modern life possible.

Of course, waste can occur in science, or in universities. All large enterprises have some easy targets. But in excoriating them, we risk missing a bigger picture. The focus becomes the "useless invisible particle" and not opportunity that can lead to wealth creation.

A Times article reports that the Florida House finds university foundations "use taxpayer money to pay for worldwide travel, lavish salaries and solicitation of private donations," painting an incorrect impression of an overfunded and self-indulgent enterprise.

In the Florida Research Consortium's report, "Florida Higher Education — Is the Cheapest Fiscally Sound?" we show Florida universities are 50th in revenue per full-time equivalent student. Our research universities lag at 42 percent of our peers. This is important because of strong correlations between university revenue and quality, and between university quality and regional economic performance.

It is Florida's economic performance that is getting lost in the politics.

Measured by GDP per capita, Florida's economy peaked in 2006 and had not recovered by 2015. That's nine years and counting.

We know there will be another recession. If we remain mired in debate about how to prosper, we can expect Florida's economic performance to lag further. Adequate university funding is essential.

Jack Sullivan, Tallahassee

The writer is president of the Florida Research Consortium.

Atrocities in Syria

Calling out Russia, Putin

I found the Netflix documentary The White Helmets to be inspiring, while at the same time I was shocked and saddened by the horrific actions of the Russian military in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin should be charged with crimes against humanity.

The film documents the military actions against civilians in their living quarters as well as attacks on hospitals by the Russian military. It shows the heroic efforts by the men known as the "White Helmets" to rescue people who have been impacted by the daily bombings by the Russians. These horrors have continued even as the Trump administration fails to condemn Putin for his coordinated military efforts to prop up the Syrian president and systematically slaughter innocent men, women and children.

Why hasn't President Donald Trump spoken up against the Russians, considering the horrors of mass murder against Syrian civilians? Trump continues to overlook the murderous behavior of Putin as innocent civilians are slaughtered daily.

Thomas Scully, South Pasadena

Hospitals urge Congress to push for an extra $1 billion in health spending | March 2

It was failure by design

A recent article on the low-income pool for health care and how it is affecting the viability of our hospitals failed to mention that this is a direct effect of Florida's legislative and executive branch decision to not expand Medicaid.

The reason the low-income pool was slated to go away is because the states were supposed to expand Medicaid, which would eliminate the need for a low-income pool. The Republicans knew this and still decided to forgo the expansion. So they gave up billions of dollars, continued to allow approximately 2,000 Floridians a year to die because of lack of health insurance, gave up approximately 50,000 new jobs, and destabilized our hospital system (especially in the rural areas).

Why? Because they hated President Barack Obama and did not feel the working poor were worthy of the coverage.

Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach

Teacher development

Better reading instruction

It wasn't long ago that nearly half of Florida fourth-graders could not read at a basic level. For years, children were passed from grade to grade, ultimately doomed to failure without the basic skills needed to succeed in the classroom and in life. Thankfully, Florida leaders implemented a comprehensive policy to make reading by third grade a reality for every student.

Over the past decade, Florida has made great progress in improving reading proficiency among the state's third-grade students. Students have doubled the national average for reading improvement, and versions of our comprehensive K-3 reading policy have been adopted in 12 other states.

While we have much to celebrate, there is still more to be done, including the reinstatement of consistent, statewide teacher training on how to teach all children to read, including students with severe reading difficulties.

You may be wondering why this is necessary. Don't all teacher preparation programs cover how to teach reading? Sadly, the answer is no, or at least not consistently. School districts do their best, but their resources are limited. What we need is a statewide, evidenced-based professional development program for all elementary reading teachers, so that they have the tools to help our youngest students.

I have filed SB 468, which will establish and fund a researched-based professional development program that will help teachers understand and employ the fundamental principles of reading instruction. I believe that giving teachers the tools to succeed in their classrooms will translate to students being better prepared for college and career.

Join me in making sure every child experiences one of the most wonderful joys in life — the ability to read.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, District 22


Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Wednesday’s letters: Bill gives small businesses tax relief

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3Small businesses get tax reliefThe Senate and House have now passed their respective tax bills. Once Congress sends a final package to the White House, President Donald Trump will deliver us the most powerful tax re...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17

Tuesday’s letters: Transplant bill will help Medicare patients

November Letter of the MonthThe winning letter addressed the unresponsiveness of elected officials.Representatives aren’t listeningFor whom do our legislators work? I ask because my Florida senator doesn’t appear to work for me. I drove 27 miles on N...
Published: 12/04/17

Monday’s letters: A citizen’s heroic act

Suspect arrested | Nov. 29A courageous citizen’s actOn Nov. 28, a courageous act occurred in the Tampa Bay area. It was one that law enforcement professionals applaud and hope becomes more frequent. An ordinary citizen did the right thing and spo...
Published: 12/01/17

Saturday’s letters: Historic preservation process needs fixing

A preservation problem | Nov. 25, editorialApplication process needs fixingThere is a reason why smaller rather than larger groups of property owners are getting together to seek historic district designation: It is St. Petersburg’s application p...
Published: 11/30/17
Updated: 12/01/17

Friday’s letters: Allegations from distant past have political tinge

Published: 11/30/17