Letters to the editor, Jan. 17


Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 5:15 p.m.

Performing hazardous duty during evolution debate

I just spent three days under armed guard. Why? I volunteered to help revise the Florida state science standards. The writers committee received threats because we proposed including the theory of evolution in the updated science standards.

Many people say evolution is "only a theory." Scientific theories which are products of observation, analysis and replication by researchers around the world often go through several human generations. Without theories the work of science would grind to a halt and civilization as we know it would end.

Perhaps because of existing weaknesses in science education, some people believe that the theory of evolution, essential to modern medicine and indeed human survival, should be replaced or called into question because of perceived conflict with religious beliefs. They advocate this in spite of 150 years of increasing evidence from the fossil record, geology, genetics, cell chemistry, biodiversity, biochemistry and microbiology that all confirm the validity of evolution.

As a science teacher, I am concerned that if belief in a supernatural intelligence is introduced into the science classroom, students will naturally begin to apply the scientific process of questioning and proof to their own religious faith. This is an inappropriate use of scientific inquiry and indeed could be damaging and confusing to idealistic and vulnerable young people.

Support our new state science standards and help give Florida a future where citizens enjoy health, prosperity and freedom of religion.

Mary Bahr, Gainesville

Don't limit student access to Buchholz magnet program

Being a graduate from Buchholz High School's Academy of Entrepreneurship in 2005, I am appalled at the idea of not allowing any zoning exemptions for students outside of the zoning areas who are interested in the program.

I was zoned for Gainesville High School, but was granted an exemption to go to Buchholz for the program. It was the best decision I have ever made. It helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to study in college, and I am now a junior at Appalachian State University with a double major in marketing and management with a concentration in entrepreneurship.

I know first hand that many of the kids on exemptions (including my younger sister who is a current student in the program) want to be there and do not use it as an excuse. From my experience, the most active and successful students in the program were the ones that were on zoning exemptions.

Taking away the option for students who are interested in the program but are outside the Buchholz High School zone could be detrimental to the program's success in the future.

I think this decision by the School Board is an easy way out to save them from having to deal with the real overcrowding issues that need to be resolved at Buchholz. I hope the board rethinks this decision before implementing it because some high-quality students will be lost. This includes my youngest sister who is in sixth grade and having to deal with not only being tossed from one middle school to another, but is now learning she can't follow in her two older sisters' footsteps in being a member of the Academy of Entrepreneurship and a Buchholz Bobcat.

Kayla Currie, Boone, North Carolina

No time to cut taxes

Let me get this straight. State revenues are down, the counties have been told to start slashing their budgets and the University of Florida is considering the cancellation of summer school.

Could there be a worse time to further cut revenues by the proposed amendment to the constitution? And isn't a constitutional amendment the worse way to effect a tax cut since it can't be adjusted as circumstances change?

As is true in football and politics, timing in government is everything. Now is not the time to cut taxes and further reduce necessary state, city and county revenues.

The voters should reject the proposed amendment and take up tax cuts when we can afford the resulting loss of dollars.

Layton Mank, Gainesville

Celebrating 25 years of beautiful music

On Friday, Jan. 18, the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra celebrates its 25th Anniversary Gala, "Broadway to Tchaikovsky," at University Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Longtime Gainesville culturalist and activist Doris Barton had a vision to create a chamber orchestra which would bring professional-level classical music to Gainesville. Today I am proud to say that Doris' vision has been a reality for 25 years.

Over the last quarter of a century, the GCO has provided over 100 musical events in and around Gainesville, ranging from duets and quartets to 60 musicians playing everything from Disney to the challenging work of Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony. The GCO has stimulated hundreds of our children to become interested in classical music by performing a children's concert for 22 consecutive years.

Finally, for the last four years as part of the Santa Fe Community College Spring Arts Festival, the GCO performs Pops on the Plaza, a free concert presenting a wide variety of music culminating in the incredible "1812 Overture."

None of this would have been possible without the incredible support the GCO has received from our state county and city government agencies. Private entities such as, the Dharma Foundation, UF and Shands, Santa Fe Community College, the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and Publix Super Market Charities have also recently provided major financial support.

We are fortunate to have the unending dedication of our musicians, our board of directors, and our Maestro, Evans Haile, who has directed the GCO for seven years. We have experienced 25 years of continuous musical productions which is a true accomplishment in the music world.

So, please join me on this wonderful occasion for our community and say, "Hats off to the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra!"

Lynda Bucciarelli, President, GCO Board of Directors Gainesville

Clay County resolution opposing evolution is wrong

If you have a child in the Clay County school system you may be concerned to know that our School Board is considering a resolution designed to alter proposed new Sunshine State Standards for science education.

The state is proposing that evolution is "the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported in multiple forms of scientific evidence" and will rule on this and other changes to its teaching standards at the Feb. 19 Board of Education meeting. In response, several counties, including Clay, are proposing resolutions in opposition to these changes to the standards - in particular the standard involving evolution.

The resolutions say evolution should not be presented to students as "fact." Can there be a more blatant example of scientific ignorance?

I urge parents who oppose this resolution - and the resulting negative light in which it will cast our county - to attend the Thursday, Jan. 17, School Board meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Teacher In-service Center, 2233 Village Square Parkway, connected to Fleming Island High School.

Paula Horvath-Neimeyer, Keystone Heights

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