Letters to the editor

School choice over-rated What an interesting situation: Students in an "F" school can opt to go to an "A" school. That is a much-hyped feature of Florida's A through F program. But is it beneficial? Is it utilized? While it seems a no-brainer for "F" school parents to send junior to the "A" school, what really happens? How does a significant influx of "F" school students affect the "A" school?
And how does losing those students impact the "F" school? Do only the "smart" kids transfer? Is there a significant difference based on race or ethnicity? What are the administrative and operational costs to the "A" school? Will the state help offset those costs? (Just kidding). It's instructive that parents had about a minute-and-a-half to make the transfer decision because the school grades come out so late. Also, I haven't read of any efforts to guide or counsel parents in their decision, just a letter telling them they could transfer. All year long people dump on teachers or administrators and much less on parents. Well this one is clear: Parents should send their kid to the best school. If they don't, it's all on them. John Dyce Lorida Prison privatization The riot at the Avon Park Youth Academy is an object lesson regarding serious dangers associated with the for-profit prison concept. The riot at this youth facility reportedly caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and several of the youths were treated at local hospitals - all at taxpayer expense. The buildings damaged were owned by, you guessed it, taxpayers. The company that operated the facility was incapable of dealing with the situation, so they called 911 - real law enforcement personnel from the Polk and Highlands county sheriff's departments. The Florida Department of Corrections and many other local and state law enforcement agencies responded and quickly brought the situation under control. The cost of this response is also on the dime of the taxpayer. You may ask why the state even bothers with the private prison industry when you see this type of problem occur repeatedly. The reason is simple: the private prison industry spends millions of dollars lobbying politicians. One company, GEO Corrections, even paid for Rick Scott's inauguration. When the lobbying efforts result in a contract with the state, you can be certain that the contract terms are very favorable for these private prison outfits. The politicians who benefit from the lobbying dollars claim it saves money. Of course, they never calculate the cost of having public law enforcement bail out the private companies when these companies fail like at the youth academy. The solution to this problem is simple: the people of Florida need to tell their elected official that they want real law enforcement officers and not rent-a-cops protecting them and their loved ones. All the lobbying money and glitzy marketing used by the private prison industry can't hide the fact that public safety is not their first priority. Their profit is. Dana B. Orr Avon Park