Saturday's letters: Toxic environment for teachers, all politics is local, student loans

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Demonstrators for and against masks in schools picketed outside the Sarasota County School Board building in 2020. Oak Park teacher Mary Holmes took off a half day without pay to join the pro-mask group.
Demonstrators for and against masks in schools picketed outside the Sarasota County School Board building in 2020. Oak Park teacher Mary Holmes took off a half day without pay to join the pro-mask group.

DeSantis makes teaching in Florida toxic

What a sorry state of affairs we have in the Florida school system.

According to the National Education Association, Florida ranks 48th in the nation in average teachers’ pay and 44th in the nation in per capita student spending.

In February, the Florida Board of Education reported 4,489 teacher vacancies, up 800 from last year.

More: How to send a letter to the editor

Florida teachers can be sued if anyone is made uncomfortable by the mention of racial history, or for helping a student deal with concerns about gender identity.

Florida has one of the highest death rates in the country due to COVID, but schools were forbidden to enforce mask mandates to protect teachers and students.

In March, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill, HB 1467, that makes it easier for parents and others to seek a ban on school materials they find inappropriate.

DeSantis has declared this year the “Year of the Parent.” I wonder if those parents and government officials who want to control the school curriculum are considering what a toxic environment they are creating for teachers and what caliber of teachers will apply for a position in Florida in the future.

In the upcoming election, we all need to weigh heavily whether more of DeSantis is in our best interests, and also give increased scrutiny to the candidates running for the School Board.

Suzan Lordi, University Park

Political cartoons deserve place in paper

As a full-time resident of Sarasota, I recognize the need for a viable local newspaper. As a political cartoonist for more than 50 years (40 with the Boston Globe), I also appreciate the function of thought-provoking creative political cartoons, which have been an integral part of American journalism since the days of Thomas Nast (“A new focus for our Opinion page – but the same clear mission,” April 24).

The problem is not the cartoons themselves. For the most part, it’s the quality of the cartoons. They are not thought-provoking and are just so badly crafted. In all honesty, I’m embarrassed to tell my neighbors I’m a political cartoonist.

We do live in divisive times, amplified by some media outlets that have abandoned truth as a prerequisite. Newspapers are the last vestiges of truth telling.

Historically, the bulk of the paper is straight news and information. The editorial page is strong straight-forward opinion and the Op-Ed page is for opposing opinions.

As the late great Tip O’Neill always said, “All politics is local.” What he left out was that even though all senators and House members work in Washington, D.C., they have a direct effect locally. Thus, they should be commented on and caricatured.

Paul Szep, Sarasota

Headline, story show bias against Israel

On April 23, the Herald-Tribune published a biased AP story about Israel and branded it with the following biased headline: “Israeli police storm Jerusalem holy site."

The article began with Israeli police “in full riot gear” storming the Temple Mount before adding “Palestinian youths hurled stones at a gate where they were stationed.”

Not until the seventh paragraph do we learn that the Palestinians had been stockpiling stones to attack the police hours before the cops arrived.

Unless one follows the situation, the average reader sees the headline and first paragraph and says, “Why are those Israelis attacking the Arabs like this?”

The first sentence of the piece deliberately turns events upside down (a regular occurrence with The Associated Press).

Reality? Palestinians launched a premeditated attack and Israel responded to restore order. Why didn’t the opening paragraph read that way?

Why didn’t the headline say, “Palestinians attack Israeli police at holy site”? Why is it written as effect, then cause, instead of cause, then effect?

This is classic yet tiresome anti-Israel bias from the AP. Herald-Tribune editors need to ask themselves if they’re willing to continue to publish it.

Jody Davis, Nokomis

Don’t ask taxpayers to pay student loans

Please, can American voters have a referendum on whether or not our government should “forgive” student loans?

A student loan, like other loans, is a legal contract. Advice for the future: Don’t sign a contract unless you plan to honor it.

Both my husband and I graduated with student loans and repaid them ourselves. We sent our two children to affordable state universities where they did not graduate in debt. If they had, they would not have asked American taxpayers to bail them out.

Young people and parents of young people, please take care of your own responsibilities. Today’s American taxpayers and our future generations are already on the hook for an enormous and ever-increasing debt. Enough!

Julie Gooden, Nokomis

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Florida school system in a sorry state, story biased against Israel

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