Letters to the Editor

High-school students weigh the pros and cons of a timely topic during recent Debate League finals.
High-school students weigh the pros and cons of a timely topic during recent Debate League finals. (File)
Posted: September 22, 2013

Tallying Corbett education aid

Gov. Corbett's commitment to fund Pennsylvania schools, including the School District, has steadily increased from $8.58 billion in 2010-2011 to $9.75 billion in 2013-2014, an increase of $1.17 billion. What cannot be ignored - but often is - is former Gov. Ed Rendell's record on education funding and the damage it continues to wreak.

In 2009 and 2010, the previous administration made major cuts in basic education funding, the main appropriation supporting local schools. Not only were funds cut, but federal stimulus funds were added to mask the cuts.

All told, nearly $500 million in state funds was cut, including nearly $55 million for the city. These state cuts were made at a time when no one could have reasonably expected to fill the deep financial hole. Indeed, the disappearance of one-time federal monies in 2011 combined with the worst economic recovery on record has had the effect of creating a perfect storm of financial disruption. Problems were further compounded by a nearly decade-long underfunding of school employee pensions.

Since Corbett took office, his budgets have focused on undoing the damage. It's been reported that total state funding for schools was lower in 2011-2012 ($5,149 per student) than funding levels in 2008-2009 ($5,190 per student); however, these reports fail to mention that, in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, under Rendell, state funding plummeted by $566 million, or $270 per student to $4,983 in 2009-2010 and $4,920 in 2010-2011.

Corbett's first budget reversed this trend. In total, the governor has increased state funding per student from $4,920 in 2010-2011 to $5,558 in 2013-2014 - an increase of $638, or 13 percent. State funding for education is now at historic levels. More than 41 cents of every tax dollar that goes to Harrisburg supports schools. In Philadelphia schools and across the state, the focus must be to prioritize and direct these dollars to programs and services that benefit students.

Carolyn C. Dumaresq, acting secretary, Pa. Dept. of Education, Harrisburg

Making sense on marijuana

As a drug-policy reform activist and longtime New Jersey political operative, I am very proud to support State Sen. Barbara Buono for governor, Milly Silva for lieutenant governor, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker for U.S. Senate. These fine candidates and proven leaders have stood for sensible, just policies that include safe, legal access for medical marijuana patients, and ending the criminalization of nonmedical users.

Eric Hafner, Toms River

Few safeguards, per the N.R.A.

Infamously, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association declared last year that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." But the Navy Yard rampage gives the lie to that assertion. Not only did gunman Aaron Alexis kill the security guard nominally protecting the area, the troubled government contractor used the guard's weapon against his other victims. Had Alexis' hotline calls been taken seriously, and cross-checked with a list of gun owners, Alexis might have been disarmed by local law enforcement, and his ability to purchase ammunition might have been curtailed. But that would be in a country that treated gun ownership as a threat as well as a right. The gun lobby has made such reasonable-control legislation politically infeasible, and the enablers of the Supreme Court have overturned centuries of precedent in their senescent surge to transform our democracy into a right-wing Soviet Union. For now, not only is it constitutionally protected to yell fire in a crowded theater; it is a privilege to murder its patrons.

Ben Burrows, Elkins Park

How troubled to be disarmed?

A common theme in recent mass shootings has been that a person now seen to have been mentally disturbed obtained a firearm and used it to murder. So we need a discussion - reasonable, rational, and dispassionate - to consider how to make these tragedies less likely. That will require considering exactly what mental or emotional disturbance requires that an individual lose the right to possess firearms. For instance, would a young student diagnosed by a school child-study team lose that right once he graduates? Does a returning veteran suffering from post traumatic stress lose the right? Who makes the diagnosis, who's required to report it, and to whom? Though not a simple matter, these issues need to be addressed.

Kevin McGonigal, Moorestown, kevikens@hotmails.com

Bogle legacy benefits many

Jack Bogle's physical stature is ordinary, but there is nothing ordinary about him or his impact on the area, the financial community, and investors everywhere ("Vanguard founder John Bogle's enduring wisdom," Sept. 15). Bogle founded one of the region's largest employers, but equally, or even more importantly, his brilliant investment insights - for instance, you cannot time the market, fees are very important, and invest for the long-run by ignoring emotional turbulence in the short-run - have enriched millions of American investors and forever altered the investing culture. Bogle is a modest man with a very immodest legacy.

Ken Derow, Swarthmore

Heartfelt concern over changes

I am extremely disappointed in the shortened (by 50 percent) daily opinion-page format. One half of the heart of The Inquirer is gone.

Linda Reichert, Chester Springs

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