Letters to the Editor

Chairman Pedro Ramos listens to protesters during a recent meeting of the School Reform Commission. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Chairman Pedro Ramos listens to protesters during a recent meeting of the School Reform Commission. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Posted: June 15, 2012

What Philly schools need

Why would anyone want to overlook the advocacy of parent presidents of more than two-thirds of the home and school associations, as Christine Carlson has ("‘Just Say No' not a school option," Sunday)?

Thousands of citizens and parents gathered at dozens of SRC community forums over recent weeks. Out of that process emerged a broad chorus against the SRC's disgraceful budget and for an alternative. Parents and citizens reiterated what we have been demanding for two decades: adequate resources, smaller class sizes, arts and extracurricular activities, no more cutbacks or layoffs of critical support personnel, and a real voice in decision-making. Carlson focuses on decentralization and principal autonomy. But what freedom will any school leader really be able to exercise without funding for the basics?

Carlson asserts that SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos is "meeting us halfway." Yet, even though he pledged to make the case for adequate resources in Harrisburg, he lobbied legislators to support a bill that would undermine the reasonable contracts of the experienced hard workers serving our children. That is not meeting us halfway.

New parent voices are always welcome, but they should evaluate the whole historic picture, not just the latest shiny thing. Parents, teachers, principals, support personnel, students, and community leaders know what their schools need. Who is listening?

Anne Gemmell, Philadelphia

Realities of the workplace

There was an interesting juxtaposition of attitudes toward organized labor in Monday's Inquirer by Charles Krauthammer ("A Waterloo for organized labor") and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.) ("Unions can shrink the growing wealth gap"). Clearly, one of them is misguided.

The people of Wisconsin spoke for free and open competition. The time for union representation, once a necessary tactic for enabling equality, is long gone. The Wisconsin vote endorsed the successes of Gov. Scott Walker, who has helped local school districts balance budgets without the artificial constraints of arcane labor practices.

Brady claims that service providers such as hospital security guards would be well-served by unions because their wages would increase. He ignores the realities of the value equation, in which services are compensated for by wages that are commensurate with their value. The value equation was well understood by the voters of Wisconsin, and our leaders would be wise to acknowledge that reality.

Daniel Stern, Huntingdon Valley

Thanks, Councilman Kenney

Many thanks to Councilman James Kenney ("Pains's inevitable, but be fair," Sunday). Not everyone remembers that there are decades-long residents, many elderly and on fixed incomes, in gentrifying neighborhoods. If taxes on these properties were to triple or quadruple, longtime residents would be forced out of their homes, destabilizing neighborhoods that have stubbornly and, against all odds, remained strong, family-centered communities. There needs to be some accommodation for people who have owned homes for 30 years or more so that the streets will not be filled with the frail, elderly homeless.

Barbara Kay Tarnoff, Philadelphia

Grateful for food provided

When I was homeless, I know that I was grateful whenever and wherever food was provided ("Charity isn't the problem," June 8). Is it fair for some people to be hungry, while those who don't worry where their next meal is coming from decide the people's fate?

Hyacinth King, Philadelphia

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