A bad education bill; Biden's weak record: Letters to the editor, Feb. 19, 2023

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HB 1 will not boost education

How can we best educate students in Florida? A bill in the Florida House, HB 1, would allow any family with a K-12- age student, regardless of income, to receive state-funded “education savings accounts,” about $8,000 a year per student, and would extend eligibility to private school and homeschool students.

The cost of these education savings accounts will likely balloon rapidly. Preliminary estimates are $4 billion a year within four years, and if funded in the same way as our current voucher system as expected, they will rapidly deplete public school funds and deteriorate offerings at public schools. Estimates are that HB 1 would cost our local school districts an estimated $4 billion next school year, with about $2 billion of this going to pay for homeschool and private school students who never even enrolled in public schools. There is no current funding to “follow these students." They have never been funded by public school dollars.

Arizona, the only state which has passed a similar law, saw total cost exceed projections by more than 1,000% within six months of enactment, with 75% of applicants coming from private school families and homeschool families. Arizona now is being dealt hundreds of millions in new expenses, raising the possibility of tax increases or severe cuts to core government functions. Florida could be next. HB 1 is not the best way to educate students in Florida.

Hilah Mercer, Merritt Island

The Brevard School Board met with dozens of community leaders, school staff and union officials on Dec. 9, 2022, to tackle ongoing problems with student discipline.
The Brevard School Board met with dozens of community leaders, school staff and union officials on Dec. 9, 2022, to tackle ongoing problems with student discipline.

Helping all kids find success

Brevard’s excellent school district needs state help to solve a paramount problem — disruptive student behavior. The Legislature already provided a law (Title XLVIII, Chapter 1003.32) that gives teachers the authority to permanently remove "disobedient, disrespectful, violent, abusive, uncontrollable, or disruptive” students from the classroom.

These kids will most likely never conform to a normal classroom, but they deserve an education. We need money to set up alternative programs where they can be successful. Florida’s Constitution (Article IX Section 1a) mandates where responsibility for such public school funding lies: “ ... It is ... a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision ... for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools ...".

So, the state needs to put its money where its statutes are.

John Russo, Titusville

More:Disney, DeSantis and that big balloon: Letters to the editor, Feb. 12, 2023

We're going under, Florida

Throughout my 64 years here on Earth, I've often believed those who deny history deny reality.

Case in point: Florida.

If you had told me when I was a child in the '60s that I couldn't read something, I would have rebelled and found the information I needed without adults snooping. Mind you, this was without the internet. What the Republican governor and Florida Legislature don't realize is a child today in 2023 can search any topic they desire with a swipe or click, while I had to sneak around with Playboy magazines 50-plus years ago.

As for Florida's 2023-24 budget, Gov. DeSantis is proposing a near-$115-billion budget. One-third of this budget is federal money, much of it leftover COVID funds. It's almost as if Joe Biden is DeSantis' personal ATM.

Let's talk diapers and give credit to State Rep, Anna Eskamani and fellow Democrats who initiated this year's tax-free diapers for children. Yet our governor now proposes that be permanently revoked. How about using the interest off COVID money to fly refugees from Texas to Massachusetts — where, by the way, those people are being processed to hopefully work and contribute to America's future?

We are being hoodwinked by those in power in Tally who bellow nonsense and misinformation from the balcony. Yet they deny history as well as reality. Maybe we will wake up as a state when we are underwater like fish belly-up in our polluted canals. Just ask our beloved manatees.

Bill Lundell, Indian Harbour Beach

Biden's record nothing to crow about

FLORIDA TODAY's Feb. 12 Opinion page had a mix of political comments. The familiar "lefties" taking shots at Trump and DeSantis. One praised Biden's SOTU speech. One gave Trump a kind nod.

I'm surprised at negative views of DeSantis because I never hear that from local people focused on the job politicians are doing — not  their personality traits.

I remember Biden's first actions after being sworn in, canceling the Keystone pipeline and drilling on federal lands. It didn't take a genius to see the resultant economic downturn.

At the end of Trump's term we were energy independent and exporting oil. Gas was under $2 a gallon. Now two years of Biden, gas averages $3.51 a gallon after peaking at $5.00. This ripples through every part of the economy because everything is transported by trucks somewhere, sometime.

Failing help from OPEC or Venezuela, Biden raided the strategic oil reserve which went from 640 million barrels to 372 million — a reckless national security move.

Inflation climbed from 1.4% to 7% due to oil prices.  Mortgage interest rates went from 2.5% to about 6.5%. Home sales slowed to a decade low.

Food inflation climbed to 10.4% from 3.9%. Welfare went from $847 billion to $1.3 trillion.

Biden's southern border policies allowed a 300% increase in illegal entries. Drugs, including  fentanyl, increased over 300%.

Leaders ought not to be judged on personalities but on the job they're doing, quantified like above. Biden's record Is my basis for judging his presidency.

I don't think he cobbled together a convincing SOTU speech.                    

George Minto, Titusville

In his 2023 State of the Union address, President Joe Biden took credit for what he said was the country's economic revival while pushing an agenda of reducing prescription drug costs, protecting abortion rights and banning assault weapons.
In his 2023 State of the Union address, President Joe Biden took credit for what he said was the country's economic revival while pushing an agenda of reducing prescription drug costs, protecting abortion rights and banning assault weapons.

We cannot tolerate injustice

It’s no longer theoretical or just suspicion. Elon Musk is exposing Twitter’s past collusion with the federal government (FBI, Justice Dept., intelligence agencies, etc.)  to shut down conservative interests in favor of the political left, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Now that this knowledge is in the public square, public opinion matters. Twitter may be the first institution to be publicly exposed for political censorship but other tech companies, TV networks and some of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers likewise colluded.

We’ve flourished as a people because of free speech. Now, all of a sudden, all speech isn’t free and a thumb has been placed on the scales of justice, even to influence elections. That’s illegal but more important, it's immoral.

How will these exposed institutions respond in the future? They must either reform or perform massive coverups to continue as part of the corrupt swamp. Public opinion certainly will be a factor.

How will people of faith respond? How will we influence public opinion? If we are going to advocate for justice and free speech for all, we have to be unwilling to tolerate injustice even if we benefit from it politically. This is a moral position, not a partisan political position. People of faith and their churches can’t be silent when immorality dominates the public square or we lose our credibility as people who claim to be God’s people.

Believers should honor Him with a renewal of moral courage in 2023.

Ed Taylor, Satellite Beach

A storm on Florida's horizon

The earthquake disaster in Turkey is tragic. More than 6,400 buildings collapsed, at least 1.2 million people homeless, more than 35,000 dead, and more than 150,000 injured. A month ago, Turkey’s president Erdoğan promised that Turkey had the fastest and most effective disaster response system in the world. Turkey’s government is failing in its response to the crisis.

Since a big quake in 1999, homeowners have been paying an earthquake tax that should be worth tens of billions of dollars, but none of that money seems to be available and drawing attention to cost-cutting and bribery to get around building codes.

Sounds a bit like our insurance issues. DeSantis' "special session" on our failing home insurance market did nothing to help homeowners. Instead of the legislature being a watchdog and a check on DeSantis' leadership, they are a lapdog for him.

Why help insurance consumers, when he can kowtow to the insurance lobby? He doesn’t need to burn books, he can ban them. Why support his legislature's revised voting map? Re-draw it — and gerrymander more Republican seats.  Fire an elected State Attorney because he sounds "woke."

With decades of Republican governors filling almost all Supreme and Circuit Court seats he needn't worry about a check on his power by the courts.

This month’s "special session" is another example of letting Ron have whatever he wants. Just change the law to fix his legal problems with shipping immigrants to "woke" cities, punishing Disney, and a worthless election crime team.

A leadership disaster is brewing in Florida, and only getting scarier.

Jeff Dorman, Satellite Beach


Here's one thought for the road

In my daily travels I see more and more electric cars on the road. A road that gas engine car owners pay for with the government road taxes. How is it that the government that taxes everything is not having electric car owners pay for the roads they use? As for the electric car, perhaps a more enlightened car owner can tell the rest of us where the chemicals for the batteries come from and how will they be disposed of. I'm awaiting the concept of electricity that just comes from the wall outlet to become a problem when the fuel that makes the electricity "goes away."

One last thought for the car makers: Sure would like to see an all-electric '57 Chevy. Why must they all look like an elongated egg?

Richard Brooks, Viera

Do unemployment figures add up?

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, "You don't have a recession when U.S. unemployment is at a 53 year low."

But is that actually a true statement?

The problem is that just because there is low unemployment according to government data, it doesn't mean that there is high actual employment. The problem is that the way the government counts a person as unemployed is not just that they are jobless, but that they are also looking for a job and available for work.

In other words, suppose everyone in the country was jobless, but they were not actually looking for a job. Based on that definition, there would be no one working but the unemployment rate would be 0%.

I would suggest that if that were the case, while we would not be in a recession, we would be in a deep, deep depression. 

Just something to think about when the "experts" say all is well. 

Ilene Davis, Cocoa 

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Biden and the state of our union: Letters to the editor, Feb. 19, 2023