Smaller school districts within Philadelphia would allow for more input from parents and local police districts. Parents would be more inclined to assist in volunteer efforts to open the schools earlier and close them later. Principals and teachers would be more responsive to the children's needs. Local police would be more effective in keeping pupils in and drug dealers and their weapons of destruction out. In short, our children would have a better chance of getting a solid education than they do today.
Let's hope this is just the beginning of a much greater trend. Decentralizing municipal government is, in fact, Philadelphia's only hope in becoming an economic, social and cultural powerhouse. With a systems approach that begins with reforming public education, we could be on our way to steadier job growth, lower unemployment, smaller welfare rolls, more small-business creation, better housing, lower taxes and greater security for all.
We just need to acknowledge the right of each community to govern itself, control its own destiny - and take appropriate responsibility.
Proposals to give more local control to city schools are based on the idea that the more authority devolving to moms, dads and teachers, the more accountable the system is.
I cannot speak on the political intent of these proposals, but involvement of parents, teachers and community is long overdue. Our children are suffering.
Education is not a one-person or one-group challenge. If it takes a village to raise a child, it definitely takes one to educate them. When the doors of our schools open, the children inside return to the community in which they reside. How they develop and grow behind those school doors affects what they bring into their communities.
We need parents to give them a foundation to build upon, teachers to enhance their minds and a sense of community to make them realize they are a vital and essential part of all this.
A public school being built at 6th Street and Duncannon Avenue will serve Olney and Logan. As residents, we can strive toward offering students and staff a sense of community commitment to accomplish their goals.
IRIS L. WILLIAMS
Kevin Haney and Yvette Ousley's article (Jan. 17) was well written, but the information given by Superintendent David Hornbeck pertained only to the 1995-96 school year.
Hornbeck should have provided the achievement tests, promotion rates, graduation rates, student and staff attendance for the year just prior (1993-94) to his becoming superintendent through the 1995-96 school year.
This three-year trend would provide parents, teachers, School District administrators and our elected representatives the necessary information to determine whether the expensive ``Children Achieving'' program is headed in a positive direction or is a waste of our time and money.
David Hornbeck's Children Achieving plan is a waste of tax money. In seven months, he hired two professionals to assist and work in the communications office. This cost about $200,000.
Teachers are not made responsible for lack of student achievement. Under this plan, education standards are all but lost and Goals 2000 is gone with the wind.
DANIEL M. CARR
NOT MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD ON JAYWALKING CRACKDOWN Those complaining about the new enforcement policy on jaywalking may be the same citizens who complain about quality of life in the city. Such issues help improve the quality of life.
We already are tackling graffiti and illegal dumping. After we have jaywalking under control, let's get on littering. It really burns me to see an adult step outside a store, remove the contents from a bag and then toss the bag on the ground. If one does not need the bag to transport purchases, leave the bag inside.
So more power to this project. All of these issues teach respect for others. That improves the quality of life.
JACK A. BARNETT JR.
VEHICLE IMPOUNDMENT Former City Councilman Daniel McElhatton, in responding to my attack on the vehicle impoundment bill he authored, attacks remarks I never made.
His references to revoked licenses, unlicensed drivers and intoxicated drivers were not the subject of my letter.
I confined myself to the features of his legislation that punish the working poor who cannot afford the exorbitant costs of insurance, raised to a stratospheric level mainly as a result of fraudulent claims.
McElhatton and his former colleagues in City Council are content to confiscate the vehicles of the honest working poor, who he expects somehow to pay the premiums of one of the highest levels of insurance costs in the nation, while earning at or little above the minimum wage.
McElhatton's bill was flawed from the start by mingling the same legislative penalties for the honest working poor, who cannot afford the gold-plated insurance, with penalties revoking the licenses of convicted drug users or those ``driving under the influence.''
I hope former Councilman McElhatton does not pose as a defender of the poor, which is the standard dishonest posture of those in City Council who joined with him to sanction this harshly punitive legislation.
CHASE VICTIM'S NIECE FAULTS THE POLICE I am the niece of the late James Gibson. I would like to thank everyone who sent flowers, cards and well wishes to our family.
My mother, Bessie Scarvers, stated in an interview that she did not blame the assailant. In her time of grief, that was not who she focused on. The assailant was wrong for stealing the car, but when the chase came to a halt, it was the police who were negligent in not coming to the aid of my uncle. Because their time and energy was all focused on the assailant, my uncle suffered a tragic and untimely death.
We are not cop-haters, just angry family members. Until this happens to someone you know, you cannot imagine the devastation and loss we are going through.
BOOZE AND NEWS A BAD MIX We hold you, the editors, responsible for the misinformation in W. Russell G. Byers' column (Jan. 16).
It is the editors' responsibility to make sure journalists check their facts and not fall for every story a source feeds them.
One billion dollars for Pennsylvania's state liquor stores? Get real. The true worth, as a Big 8 accounting-firm study will soon show, is a lot closer to $400 million.
Even the governor has been saying $1 billion is no longer considered realistic.
Money from the liquor store system should be spread around, and it is!
Currently the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has been turning to the state's general fund, and that money is used to finance education and community development, as well as the state police and alcohol education.
The PLCB works. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study showed it was twice as easy for a high school student to buy alcoholic beverages with phony identification in New York, a private-sales state with more than 50,000 retail outlets, than in Pennsylvania with its 659 state-controlled outlets.
Byers did not have to go as far as Harrisburg to find who would benefit from the sale of the PLCB.
Along with the large national and regional retail chains like Rite Aid, Southland (7-Eleven) and others who bought up 75 percent of the recently privatized West Virginia state-controlled stores, the California wine industry would love to break the PLCB's buying power and the large-circulation newspapers already get ad revenue from out-of-state liquor stores.
The more than 3,000 members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776, not the ISSU, which represents under 700 statewide, do not take one penny of taxpayers' money. They are paid out of the PLCB's proceeds before profits and taxes are turned over to the General Assembly to benefit Pennsylvanians.
With PLCB, we all win.
WENDELL W. YOUNG III
UFCW Local 1776 (AFL-CIO)