Students making a difference, must continue to speak out

Students across the school district have organized walkouts on Wednesday, March 14 — evidence that young people have a voice.

Sometimes we doubt our ability to make change. Maybe at first, we felt that way when 17 people lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

However, the opposite happened. Instead of feeling helpless, we rushed to make a difference.

The evidence is that, one week after the shooting, my school, Booker High School, implemented almost half the student suggestions for security. The district has proposed pulling $25 million from other projects to fund school security. And the Legislature passed a law raising the age to purchase any gun to 21.

We do have a voice. We are impacting our community and society with a fervor. Let’s use this renewed fervor productively.

Remember the lives lost, carry on in their memory, urge our government to serve its citizens and young people.

High school seniors, you must register to vote. That is the easiest way to make your voices heard. Students, write your congressmen; you can text 50409 and have your message faxed directly to your representatives.

Even more important, lend your hearts and words to your fellow young people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. After the walkout, we will hold a school supply drive and write letters to let these students know that we stand with them and are speaking out with them.

We are the next generation of history makers, and we must create lasting change for a better and safer future.

Ellen Bausback, Senior, Booker High School

School arts programs develop essential skills

A letter writer objects to his tax money funding the arts in public schools. He says students can't even write a business letter or balance a checkbook.

The inability of students to perform those tasks, normally taught in elementary school, shows problems with the educational system, but isn't a reason for dismissing the arts.

Learning about "the arts" or learning to do something artistic encourages the development of critical thinking and analytic ability, of finding new methods of problem-solving — essential skills in modern society.

Teaching "the arts" is not about producing painters and sculptors, though that can result. Learning skills that turn one into a technician is not the primary goal of education.

Education should produce judgment and discernment in a multitude of life situations, and exposure to the arts is instrumental in that important objective.

Juliette Muscat, Sarasota

Israel has a right to exist and defend against threats

In response to the letter "Trump's pro-Israel policy places America in peril":

Israel does want a peace settlement but also wants the Palestinians to accept Israel's right to exist. Israel was willing to give a lot at the Camp David meetings and Yasser Arafat turned down the offer.

Israel gave up Gaza for peace and gets a constant barrage of rockets as a thank-you. There are restrictions in Gaza due to tunnels being built and ammunition factories in Gaza schools.

Israel has a right to protect herself. The nuclear deal with Iran is not successful. Iran has broken promises and its goal is to wipe out Israel.

We were not attacked on 9/11 because of our support for Israel.

Thank goodness for President Trump having the courage to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

I hope the writer, who constantly condemns Israel with untruths, didn't use the Israel-invented technology in his computer or cellphone to write his letter, or doesn’t depend on the many medical inventions for his health, or, if the time should come, rely on the superior Israeli defense methods for his protection.

Also, in case he is ever trapped by a hurricane or tornado, don't let the Israeli responders help him. They are always one of the first to help after disasters all over the world. What have the Palestinians ever done for him or the world?

Harriet Joy Epstein, Sarasota

Loss of key federal staff jeopardizes our security

Your March 8 political cartoon illustrated that the White House staff continues to lose its smartest decision-makers. Megan McArdle’s adjoining column, “Cohn will be hard to replace,” emphasized this problem.

Without a smart, experienced White House staff, poor decisions will be made.

Even more troubling is that this loss of confidence leads to the loss of key personnel throughout the government. Many have left the State Department, including Joseph Yun, the North Korea expert.

We have no idea how U.S. suffers as agency staff become disillusioned. Experts on cancer research and other diseases, education, defense, environment and energy are likely to find greener pastures.

The White House staff loss is only the tip of an iceberg that can sink this amazing country.

Jon and Beverly Meyerson, Sarasota