The point for me is not whether or not torture works; it's morally wrong, a war crime, repugnant, and in violation of the Geneva Accords. President George W. Bush, while allowing torture, made public statements suggesting that under no circumstances would the United States use torture. He lied because he knew the public conscience would never accept doing what we have criticized other countries for doing.
Judy Rubin, Philadelphia
Arming teachers not the answer
I do not want a gun. My fellow teachers do not want guns. My students do not want me to carry a gun, nor do they ever want me to be in a position to have to use a gun. I do not want any free training in how to use a gun, as some teachers in Utah received. I also do not want anyone else's guns because I do not want to infringe on their Second Amendment rights.
What I do want, desperately and fervently, is a measured, reasonable solution to the problem of military-style assault weapons and magazines. I know that the National Rifle Association's proposal hits a chord among those who want to keep children safe, but I see it as a ploy to get even more guns into people's hands while ignoring the complexities of this dilemma.
We cannot address all of the mental-health issues plaguing our children and young adults, but we can address, easily and cheaply, the very real intersection of guns and mental illness. The one common denominator among all of the mass shootings since Columbine is that the shooters had easy access to assault weapons. This is where the conversation needs to start.
Olga Polites, Cherry Hill, email@example.com
Need repeat of 'cliff' cooperation
While it occurred later than anyone would have liked, it was great to see the cooperation that finally led to a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. I am hopeful that such cooperation could serve as a model to solve the numerous other problems that we have in the near future. But I don't have much confidence in that happening. We send people to Washington to lead, not to fight. Let's hope for continued cooperation.
Steven M. Clayton, Ocean
Just more liberal hypocrisy
A letter Tuesday ("Move beyond the violence") demonstrates typical leftist sanctimonious hypocrisy when it condemns "divisive rhetoric and partisan policies" that have "poisoned public discourse" after describing the United States as waging "imperialistic wars of profit" and "cruelly ignoring . . . unprecedented poverty." Is this not someone who lives in a glass house throwing stones?
Ronald H. Beifeld, Conshohocken. firstname.lastname@example.org
SRC prefers outside help
So the new program to "transform" the Philadelphia School District is to hire a corps of people already employed by the district to form an elite group to help different departments figure out how to do their jobs better ("District thinks 'transformation,'" Friday). This, according to Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn, is because there really are a lot of good people working in the district, but they are exhausted and feel that they don't have "good professional advancement opportunities." Sounds to me like he's talking about the Teach for America teachers. Many of them stay the two years needed to complete their contract, and then move on to administrative positions.
The other item that really caught my attention was the fact that the corps members will be "mentored by a group of outside officials now being gathered." Who are these outside officials? Have all of the district officials who had expertise in these areas been laid off? Is that part of why people are so exhausted; because their offices have been decimated? It is quite evident from its actions that the School Reform Commission believes no credible, competent people work in the district and that it needs to bring in outside forces, like the Boston Consulting Group, to run our district.
Karel Kilimnik, Philadelphia
Put charters in district buildings
It is interesting that among all the reasons given for closing more than 30 city schools, there's little emphasis on the creation of charter schools, which the School Reform Commission allows.
Thousands of children are in charters located in semi-privately owned buildings. Money for these schools comes from taxpayers. The charters do aid in the educational process, but at the expense of traditional public schools. The SRC should allow charter schools, but only in vacated School District facilities designated for closure. Citizens are being taxed to fund a dual school system. At the very least, underused physical plants should be converted to charter-school buildings, with the lessor being the SRC, thus saving millions of dollars.
Myron I. Kessler, Mount Laurel
Right-to-work doesn't work
Economics professor Matthew Rousu showed very little understanding of economics in his Dec. 26 commentary "Right-to-work law could boost Pa."
First, it should be pointed out that even if you are not a member of a union and do not pay dues, the union still has a legal obligation to represent you. This is similar to your not paying taxes while everyone else does. The city would still pick up your trash. This allows those who do not pay their share to freeload off of those who do.
Second, Rousu provides no evidence that a small increase in pay would do anything to enhance the economic health of the commonwealth. I have not seen any economic studies that show this money would do anything to change the state's economy.
Third, what is well documented is that so-called right-to-work states are in reality right-to-work-for-less states. Their wages and spending on education are lower and their workplace fatalities are higher.
Louis Agre, Philadelphia