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Sunday, September 28

Amendment 8

A year ago, budget shortfalls hit higher education particularly hard, and the public universities had to fight with the Legislature over the power to raise tuition and freeze freshman enrollment. Community colleges were also affected as Gov. Charlie Crist, proposed to reduce their state funding by at least 4%, or about $43.5 million, at a time when enrollments increased 7.2% across 28 campuses last fall. The cuts — a direct result of the housing downturn—also collided with counter-cyclical enrollment cycles of community colleges. During good times, people work and enrollment is down. During bad times, enrollment rates increase. And this is when the state comes in and says “sorry… but …”

Community Colleges expect the problem to get worse after the Board of Governors’ vote to freeze freshman enrollment at four-year universities at last fall’s level. With the number of new high school graduates increasing, community colleges are the only solution to many students as the university system had a total enrollment of 282,134 in 2005.

And this is how Amendment 8 was introduced. On Nov. 4, when –hopefully- all of you exercise your right to vote, you will see Amendment 8, placed on the ballot by the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. Its title is “Local Option Community College Funding.” Amendment 8 will allow counties to raise their sales tax in order to increase community college funding. Allan Bense, chairman of that committee, has explained the amendment. "“What Amendment 8 does, it basically provides another way for community colleges to raise money. If this amendment passes, then every community college will have the option of having a local referendum to increase the sales tax by up to a half cent. Now, if a community college is located in more than one county, all of those counties would have to participate and it would have to pass in all three counties.”

If the voters approve of the local option sales tax, it would have to be reauthorized every five years. Bense said that among his 24 colleagues on the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, support for putting Amendment 8 on the ballot was very strong.

“I think it was unanimous. Frankly, I think it was about the only unanimous vote that we had. The members of the commission were of many conservatives, many liberals, from South Florida, from North Florida, but clearly I think all 25 agreed that the needs that our community college system has and the great job it does in educating students is important and we felt this would help that mission.”

However, not everyone is happy with it. It has been criticized as “regressive.” A regressive tax rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases, and therefore it imposes a greater burden on lower-income families. Also, if passed in certain counties and not in others, certain colleges would get extra funding, and others would not. The Board of Trustees of Manatee Community College has voted to oppose it while St Petersburg College supports it.

What are your thoughts on Amendment 8? Do you believe we need it or not?

Sunday, September 21

Abstinence vs. Contraceptives

Abstinence vs. Contraceptives
Is pregnancy a gift from God?
Teen promiscuity is a serious issue and it is a known fact that most religious groups have always deemed it as an act that lacked moral direction. They have asserted that the children who become pregnant out of wedlock have had no moral compass from their parents to prevent such behavior. The issue proposed is that the notion of abstinence is somehow the best way for parents and their children to deal with sexual urges. They not only forego the use of contraceptives but some actively campaign against it. When Jamie Spears, the notable 16-year old became pregnant, some were probably thinking because of the Hollywood lifestyle and being raised by a single mom fit into this low or no moral pattern of behavior for her pregnancy. But not only is there no whispering campaign amongst the religious groups about no moral compass with Bristol Palin but they are coming to her defense in droves and are in praise of the family values they can defend in such a case that she has chosen to keep the baby.
If the best moral compass established by parents has less influence on the active hormones of the young teens than does the oft uncontrollable emotion of "love" and the innate sexual drive that their Creator built into every living species, then the real question is what we can do to prepare our children of the future.
In the United States, teen pregnancy is a growing concern. In 2001 UNICEF reported that the United States teenage birthrate was higher than any other country involved. The U.S. tied Hungary for the most abortions. This was in spite of the fact that girls in the U.S. were not the most sexually active. Denmark held that title. But, its teenage birthrate was one-sixth of ours, and its teenage abortion rate was half of ours.
Abstinence-only education seems to be winding down with a study finding that it didn’t work. States are opting out of it. Parents don’t like it either. According to one, 65 percent of parents of high school students said that federal money “should be used to fund more comprehensive sex education programs that include information on how to obtain and use condoms and other contraceptives.”
Which do you support abstinence or contraceptives?
Who should be responsible to enforce this choice?

Labels: Abstinence vs. Contraceptives

Saturday, September 13

Childhood Cancer

There are many children in this world who are faced with fighting cancer. I am one of those children. My name is Amanda Hingson and at the age of seventeen I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. This is a type of bone cancer common is teenage boys in their joints. I had a golf ball size tumor growing from my spine to my ribs. It is highly uncommon for this type of cancer to be in the spine; my doctors were extremely shocked to find this out. Cancer has taken a lot of lives in this world but it knew it would not take mine. There are many ways to treat cancers; I was treated by having two back surgeries and chemotherapy treatments.

My first back surgery was in January of 2005. The doctor removed all the visible parts of the tumor and that back side of four of my ribs. The surgery took about two hours. I recovered well with the help of my loving family and friends. The surgery left a large L shape scar down my back. I was released from the hospital about a week and a half after surgery. At the time I did not know this surgery would be the easiest part of my treatment.

Two weeks later I was told I had cancer. My life changed completely. I met with my oncology doctors at All Children’s Cancer center. It is an amazing hospital. The Doctors told me they had made up a protocol of my chemo treatments and I would be starting next week. By this time I was extremely scared. I went through my treatments like a champ. I was the oldest child in my wing. Every other cancer patient was no older than fifteen and most were under ten. Seeing this broke my heart; however, it changed my look on life. I received different treatments for about two months. I did lose my hair and continually was sick but nothing compared for what was to come.

After those two months of chemo I went to Moffit to have my second back surgery. During this surgery I had the T-8, T-9, and T-10 of my spine removed. I now have a medal rod and six screws in my back. The surgeries did not scare me. I knew I was strong and was not going to let a disease take anything away from me. Three days after my surgery I was up and walking around. About a week and a half after my surgery I was sent home. I was out of chemo treatments for about a month and a half. In that month I did as much as I could with my friends.

Last I went back into chemotherapy treatments. I had received treatments for six months. The treatments got worse as I proceeded with them. I continued to lose weight, not eat, and just stay in my bed. The nurses were always caring and understanding though. At the end of October of 2005 I received a three day treatment. This means I have drugs pumped into me for three days straight. After the treatment I was feeling okay. I was sent home for two days then brought back to the hospital because my blood count was zero, my kidneys were shutting down, and I had a soar throat tat kept me from talking. I was put in an isolation room. I was in the hospital from November first until November twenty-eighth. That whole time I did not eat anything. The doctors had me on a nutrients IV but I just vomited it back up. I did not get out of bed but to use the bathroom. Yes I did spend my worst Thanksgiving in the hospital. I dropped down to ninety pounds. When my blood count finally went back up I was sent home on homecare upon my request. After that treatment I was supposed to get the exact same treatment two weeks later. There were 5 more treatments in my protocol but I decided that I would rather let cancer kill me than chemo. My mother left the choice in my hands to quit chemo or not. At this time all the cancer was removed from my body and the treatments were a precaution to make sure the cancer would not come back. After two weeks of home care I told my doctors I would not be returning to finish out my treatment.

I am now twenty years only and going to college. I am following my heart now. When I chose to stop treatments I have no regrets. I did have a reoccurrence in my lung but it posed no threat. It was easily removed. I am going to school to become a child life therapist. Once I graduate I will work at a hospital with cancer patients helping them cope with their illness. I now volunteer at the hospital that treated me. There is nothing in this world that makes me happier than seeing the smiling faces of the young kids fighting cancer.

What are your thoughts on health issues? How can we promote better health for all Americans?

Sunday, September 7

Lawmaker Hopes to End Ban on Gay Adooption in Florida

A Florida state senator has introduced a bill that would reverse a 30-year law that bars gay and lesbian couples from adopting children. Sen. Nan Rich's proposed measure would instruct judges to consider the child's best interest when placing them in a permanent home, according to WFOR, a South Florida CBS TV affiliate. A gay friend or relative would be considered as an adoptive parent if they were the child's legal guardian when the parents died.
Please read the rest at

Do you agree with the proposed legislation to allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children? Or do you agree to maintain the current prohibition against gay couples?