Letters to the Editor, Jan. 1

Marco Eagle

Graduation rate audit needed

The Collier County School District claims 91 percent high school graduation rate. Can this be true?

On Dec 6, out-going Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart issued a Finding of Probable Cause to sanction Manatee County Superintendent Cynthia Saunders for manipulating graduation rates in Manatee county by having parents of dropouts sign a document stating they were home schooling their dropout child.

Editorial cartoon

Is this happening in Collier County? We hear from parents and residents across Florida that this is happening in numerous counties, including Collier.

Look at the facts:

  • Using national tests, US News and World Report issues a well-accepted annual assessment of all high schools in the United States. In this report, 43 percent of Collier’s high school students cannot read at grade level and 49 percent cannot do math at grade level. Across Florida, 50 percent of our 2.8 million students cannot read and do math at grade level.
  • The 2017 composite average score of all Florida students who take the ACT test is 19.8, tied for 38th out all 50 states and well below the national average of 21.0. In 2017, eight states ranked below Florida tested 100 percent of their students. Florida tested only 73 percent. Collier was not materially different than Florida.
  • Local businesses are telling us that many Collier graduating seniors don’t have the basic reading and math skills to be employable. This is particularly true of minorities and lower income families.

Florida Citizens Alliance urges new Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran to audit the underlying practices of all counties. If almost half of our students cannot read or do math at grade level, 91 percent just doesn’t pass the smell test. How can this be?

Keith Flaugh, managing director of Florida Citizens Alliance, Marco Island

No voting alternative

Michael Adler made in his letter to the editor in the Dec. 26 Naples Daily News edition an awkward statement: “How anyone with a modicum of brainpower can vote Democrat is beyond reasonable comprehension.”

Having watched the fiasco performance by the pathetic, useless, obstructionist Republican president in his meeting with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer and a wax figure that looked like Vice President Mike Pence, there is an easy answer: The voters don’t have an alternative.

Happy New Year!

Herb Krutisch, Marco Island

Belief in Santa alive and well

George Ball’s guest commentary, “Sow seeds of gifts that keep giving all year,” presented Christian culture’s legendary Santa, who came to us from early biblical tales, as a confused businessman. At one point, Santa’s magic could not go any further. He got “tired” and needed a “break” thinking about “extra cash” needed. The article makes readers to believe that Santa possibly profits from distributing products in a form of gifts. Allowing such a soulless thought was a huge disappointment to me and would be to many kids. Putting a fairy-tale into human materialist dimension is a destructive job aiming at humans’ sweet privilege to dream.

In another statement, the columnist says that Christmas festivities in the Southern Hemisphere have been “fading away.” Such a rough generalization does not reflect actual socio-economic processes in the region. What happens in reality is that the classic Santa’s image is being remade under influences of indigenous believers. Brazilians, for instance, continue to cherish their Papai Noel with great devotion. In case of South Africa, one can argue, “the demography” influenced Santa’s dropping popularity: many white Christians left the country. But settling in Europe, USA and Canada, they increased the number of Santa followers in the North.

Finally, who would believe that traveling around the Globe could be “brutal” or even difficult for Santa? Everybody knows that flying reindeer pulls the sleigh comfortably with super-sonic speed. No delays hassle in airports. Ho, ho, ho.

Dmitriy Shoutov, retired executive of United Nations Development Program, Marco Island