Dialogue

Posted: August 03, 2014

ISSUE | GAZA

Priorities are clear

It is painful to watch the loss of civilian lives in the Gaza fortress that Hamas built in and under homes, schools, and hospitals, just as it is painful to see selective outrage over death and destruction that is but a fraction of the carnage in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East. The effort that Israel has made to minimize the loss of civilian lives is unique in the annals of warfare, while Hamas has poured billions in aid and many tons of concrete into the ground to build bunkers, rocket-launching sites, and 80-foot-deep tunnels that have only one purpose - to facilitate attacks on Israel.

|John R. Cohn, Philadelphia, john.r.cohn@gmail.com

ISSUE | MUSIC

Kid-friendly delight

With their movie night, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pixar gave parents the perfect opportunity to introduce children to the fine arts ("A movie night at Verizon Hall," July 29). I took the opportunity to read books about the orchestra prior to the performance, and afterward my children appreciated that, even though they could not hear the movie dialogue, they were able to feel what was happening entirely because of the effect of the music. I commend the orchestra and conductor Cristian Macelaru, and encourage them to look for more ways to make the orchestra accessible to all audiences.

|Julie Hayes, Wayne, julie.hayes33@yahoo.com

More movie classics

There is more artistically credible film music that deserves to be heard by composers like Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Waxman, and Bernard Herrmann ("A movie night at Verizon Hall," July 29). A suite from Waxman's score for A Place in the Sun (1951) played before Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11 (1957) would demonstrate how Waxman's chase fugue resembles the massacre sequence in the symphony, even though it is highly unlikely Shostakovich ever heard Waxman's score.

|Arthur Lintgen, Perkasie

ISSUE | TEACHING

In for the long haul, given the right support

Before I retired after 32 years as a tenured teacher at a Philadelphia high school, I saw many teachers leave for other fields ("Phila. teachers need support," July 23). There is high turnover, mainly because of working conditions that are far from ideal. So I marvel at the nearly ideal conditions enjoyed by other professionals, such as doctors and lawyers. They work for the most part one on one, compared with the lone teacher facing 33 students who are less than well-motivated.

After retiring, at least I had the pleasure of teaching at Germantown Academy - with 10 to 15 students in each classroom, all responsive, and with 100 percent return on homework and lab assignments, and no discipline issues. That's a place where educators do not want to retire.

|John Patane, Philadelphia

Relaxing teach-to-the-test approach next?

School District chief William R. Hite Jr. says he is excited that Temple University is making SAT and ACT scores optional ("Temple admissions go test-optional," July 29). Hite acknowledges that some students' scores might not be an indication of their ability to succeed in college. I agree, but I wonder whether Hite keeps that sentiment in mind when he uses standardized-test scores to evaluate his teachers and to justify closing or redesigning neighborhood schools.

|Deborah Grill, Philadelphia

ISSUE | GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY

Openness czar deserves reappointment

Kudos to Terry Mutchler for running a top-notch Office of Open Records, despite the fact that Pennsylvania is usually in the bottom tier for many categories ("Pa. records chief in limbo," July 25). Her term expired three months ago following a six-year appointment by former Gov. Ed Rendell. The nonpartisan job of making information available to the public is important. But only silence is coming from Gov. Corbett's office as to a reappointment of Mutchler.

This is unfair. Mutchler and her staff need to plan their lives. If a joint letter urging her reappointment from Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) can't get Corbett to act, what will?

|JoAnn Williams, Media

Rid campaigns of deep-pockets influence

A bill before the Senate this fall would amend the Constitution to authorize congressional regulation of campaign spending. If we value democracy and actually believe the people - not corporations and the 1 percent - should choose our government, then we'd better urge our senators to support this effort.

|Carol LeFevre, Gwynedd

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