Letters to the Editor

Unrest over school funding played out in a recent Center City rally.
Unrest over school funding played out in a recent Center City rally. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 20, 2013

Teaching's easy? Just try it

Someone should do a reality show titled, "Hey, Politician, Teach My Class." Pols from all levels of government would teach at various Philadelphia schools for a week. Not only would they be responsible to teach for six hours a day, but they would also have to spend their own time grading papers, buying school supplies, planning lessons, and e-mailing parents. Aside from the camera crew, the politician-teachers would stand alone in a classroom of 30 children. No aides, as they have in their government offices; just themselves.

If they need a hand, they'll be told that no one is available to help, as those aides were deemed part of a "wish list" put out by the teachers' union ("Teachers must do more than talk the talk," June 16). If their charges need to blow off energy, the politician-teachers would be told that they themselves have to supervise students on the playground or in the gym due to other cutbacks.

An additional show could be titled, "Hey, Editorial Board, Teach My Class," since The Inquirer Editorial Board seems to think that smaller classes, school nurses, aides, librarians, and secretaries are luxuries to be negotiated away.

Jennifer Olree-Collazo, Philadelphia

Don't let key Pa. region sputter

Our Delaware Valley representatives should get together - city and suburban legislators alike - and remind Harrisburg lawmakers and Gov. Corbett that our region is the economic engine for Pennsylvania. They might also suggest that residents of the Philadelphia region are thinking that maybe we should withhold corporate and individual taxes sent to the state treasury if the legislature continues to withhold adequate funding for school districts, especially the city's. Our reasoning is that this economic engine will be running on empty if we don't have a strong, vital public school system to fuel it.

John and Penny Stanger, Phoenixville

Praise missing for a leaker

Reading early coverage on the domestic spying controversy, I was struck that there was no one applauding secrets-leaker Edward Snowden for risking his freedom and perhaps his life with his revelations. Snowden did not whistle-blow for fame or money, but, in his words, "the public interest." While President Obama said there is no spying on Americans, Snowden has maps showing where citizens have been spied on most heavily. Most Americans should be shocked about the degree to which their calls, Internet use, and e-mail are monitored.

It is so rare to see a person of conscience with the courage to speak truth to corrupt power. I am sure we will hear false claims once again that our national security is being compromised. This is always voiced to distract and protect those in power who have been outed. Snowden said he didn't "want to live in a society that does these sorts of things," and I would agree.

Judy Rubin, Philadelphia

A taste of Iron Curtain tactics

Given all the three-letter agencies in and around Washington, it is hard to figure out how the names are pronounced. At least, now we know that "NSA" - which stands for the National Security Agency - should be pronounced "Stasi."

Kenneth Gorelick, M.D., Newtown Square

Clueless without a smartphone?

While heavily involved in high tech, I do not have a smartphone and have little desire for one. I have a cellphone for - gasp - making calls. What a concept. (And mostly for emergencies.) But a handful of geniuses in the Silicon Valley are creating technology to make the vast majority of us stupider. And this isn't just about smartphones. We are dependent on extra-cranial assistance for the following: basic math (imagine finding a square root or even long division without a calculator app), spelling (try hippopotamus or bureaucracy without spellcheck), weather conditions, planning a trip (go to Mapquest or Google Maps), research (search engine of choice), or even the ability to do any critical thinking. Notwithstanding the wearable-computer cyborg wannabes, and those who want Internet-connected toasters, more consideration needs to be given to where all this is leading.

Sam Goldwasser, Bala-Cynwyd, sam@seas.upenn.edu

Threat to military readiness

I do not claim that there is no sexual misconduct in the U.S. military. However, I believe Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) and other Democrats are encouraging any misconduct claim from women in order to destroy the military accomplishments of men ("For U.S. military, an enemy within," June 13). Since the 1960s, liberals have loathed the military. Liberals destroyed the institution of marriage, Judeo-Christian values, the family unit, work ethics, personal responsibility, and respect for life in the womb. The military is next.

Connie Waterman, Narberth

Friends' territories role

The American Friends Service Committee never ran schools in the West Bank between 1948 and 1967. Post-1967, AFSC ran a kindergarten-support program, but this was not a part of the United Nations system ("Recalling an unfriendly history," June 11). The only link between AFSC and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was our assistance programs in Gaza (not the West Bank), which ran from 1948 to 1950, and which were taken over by UNRWA. When AFSC gave up this work in 1950, the organization did not take over responsibility for UNRWA schools. The only Quaker-run schools in the West Bank are the Ramallah Friends Schools, but these schools have no formal connection with AFSC or with UNRWA. Allegations that these schools used anti-Semitic texts would need to be backed up with solid proof, which to date has not been provided.

Alexis Moore, associate director, communications, American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia

Merion, the region proved worth

Whether it was the Merion Golf Club, the United States Golf Association, Haverford College, families near the course, small businesses, local police departments, SEPTA, vendors, volunteers, food servers, or local folks, the U.S. Open at Merion stood as a testimony to people and organizations, of every style and background, willing to pull together for a common purpose, then produce results that make a community proud. Golfers or not, the world watched, and in the final analysis, the tattered comparisons to athletics and the clichés of coaches paled in comparison to the work, hours and hours, to create, communicate, and implement activities to develop an experience for thousands, feed that same crowd, house extra security, provide shelter, and keep those people safe, secure, and happy. Even out-of-town newspapers had to acknowledge that Philadelphia worked; no seedy jokes about W.C. Fields. Where do we go from here? Who knows? Yet the folks in charge should walk slowly, and savor this victory.

William Earley, Merion Station

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