The article “U.S. teens lag behind Asian, European peers in test” (Nation & World, Dec. 4) tries to blame child poverty and a diverse population in U.S. schools. Others recommend that we raise teachers’ salaries. The real cause is there is more emphasis on our kids to watch video games, “American Idol,” “The Voice,” and the other distractions that just get in the way of schooling.
If you check, European and Asian teachers aren’t exactly the highest-paid people in the world, nor are they close. Their students and the parents of them look on their education with a reverence not displayed in this country for some time. A good deal of our students’ parents are more concerned about how well the football team makes out rather than what the kid is soaking up in the classroom.
A simple way to see what has happened to our education system is to see what has changed in the past 30 or 40 years. There certainly was poverty, a diverse population and underpaid teachers back then. What they didn’t have were excuses.
Walk of Fame candidate
I’ve lived in Tampa all my life, and it seems that Mayor Bob Buckhorn is always looking for another interesting candidate to enshrine on his beloved River Walk of Fame in a bronze bust. Mayor Bob should look no further. He should consider James Searcy Farrior, aka Jim Fair — a Naval Academy graduate, a decorated World War II veteran, an eccentric and political gadfly who ran for almost every political office in Tampa, including mayor, and finally won the supervisor of elections post in 1964.
Jim Fair probably wouldn’t want his kooky image to be tarnished on a bronze-bust monument, on a pedestal by the river, but why not him? His legacy is just as big as some of these hoity-toity people already cast in place.
Byron A. Brown
In elite company
Wow, what a hometown/international hero we have in Dr. Tony Lazzara (“Doctor gives up posh life to help the poor,” Hometown Heroes, Metro, Dec. 3)! Dr. Tony is from the mold of Saint Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis, in the fact that all three had some ties to “partying days or being around parties.” Yes, it has been recently reported that one of Pope Francis’ earlier jobs in Rome was being a bouncer. Even though all three men may had been in bars or nightclubs, we know they found, as blessed Mother Teresa did also, another kind of “bar” where they found their strength to help God’s poor. Yes, all four found their daily strength, also known as their daily bread, at the holy communion rail at their local Catholic Church.
Regarding “Single-payer health care system a singularly bad idea” (Other Views, Dec. 2): Jay Ambrose views negating the positiveness of a single-payer system for health care shows a lack of good research and perhaps experience. Medicare is a single-payer system that works and is appreciated by all of us who are retired. I suggest he talk with his parents if they are retired.
Furthermore, he mentions experts who have analyzed the poor results of countries that have single-payer systems. I suggest he talk with many in Canada who love their system. Finally, when I worked in Australia in the mid-1980s I had to seek medical services for which I was not charged, even though I was a U.S. citizen. I was told I was in their country under a valid work visa and therefore covered by their universal insurance program.
Alan J. Kromholz
Regarding “Jackson: Stunt reminds us we pay taxes $1 at a time” (Nov. 29):
In Tom Jackson’s commentary on a taxpayer who recently paid her property taxes with more than $11,000 one-dollar bills, he makes an erroneous assumption in the opening portion of his piece. He writes, “and as the clerks groan, we think, serves’ em right, you know? Prattling on about how long it’s been between raises…” I can tell Jackson that no clerk “groaned” when the taxpayer handed over her cash payment. In fact, the taxpayer was treated as is every other taxpayer — with the utmost respect. Her method of payment did not elicit “groans” or “prattling on” or any other negative response from any of the employees who worked on counting the customer’s money.
The customer service representative did everything as she should. When she saw the large amount of cash that was being handed over to pay the bill, she called her supervisor over for assistance. The supervisor called other staff over to count the money and give the customer the receipt, just as the customer requested.
The next time Jackson wants to make an assumption about what our staff may or may not have said during a transaction, he should take into account the picture he is painting of the fine, hard-working people in our office. By using “groaning” and “prattling,” he projects an image of these public servants that is far from reality. I can assure you that our employees do not behave in that manner.
New Port Richey
The writer is director of operations for the Pasco County Tax Collector’s Office.