For days, there have been front-page articles on the alleged wrongdoings of officials at Philadelphia Academy Charter School. This constant negative publicity is making all charter high schools look bad. In the meantime, as we read on May 10, violence has skyrocketed at the regular public high schools ("Report: City schools unsafe, unjust").
The story that needs to be written is one that compares the violence at public high schools with the incidents reported at public charter high schools. Add in a section on graduation rates and daily attendance, and the public will understand why parents and students are lining up to get a chance at a spot on the waiting lists of the well-run charters.
Also, almost every news story has the public thinking that charters are "draining the resources from the public schools." Please realize that charters are public schools.
There is no need for a smoking ban - just have private businesses, such as bars and restaurants, post signs saying either "Smoking Allowed" or "Non-Smoking" at their entrances ("Rendell vows to protect Phila. smoking ban," May 13).
No one is forced to patronize or work in these establishments; they are invited. A ban would be an infringement on private property rights and a freedom of choice for a legal activity.
Kudos to Chris Satullo for tackling the gerrymandering issue ("Stop the gerrymander," May 3, and "You can help to kill the evil gerrymander," May 10). Although it's a serious problem, it's not considered a "sexy" topic, so it's ignored.
I compare gerrymandering to people having high blood pressure. High blood pressure is labeled a silent killer, and gerrymandering can be labeled the same way. But what it kills is the ability of citizens to have their concerns addressed by their legislators. If you've ever felt that your state representative, state senator, or congressperson wasn't listening to you after you raised a concern, the reason could be because your area was gerrymandered, which resulted in a diminished obligation to you by your elected official.
If you're wondering if where you live has been gerrymandered, call the office of your local government. Find out how many of the elected officials mentioned above serve your town or city. If there is more than one elected official per office, your area was probably gerrymandered.
Re: "If we can't ban assault guns - what?" May 9 by State Sen. Connie Williams:
I am a 61-year-old Vietnam vet who has seen the damage an M-16 automatic rifle can do; it is awesome and awful. I agree with Sen. Williams that regulations are overdue. I don't think the Founding Fathers could foresee the criminal mess we are in today. If they could, I think they would have created a provision in the law banning assault weapons using the same laws that prevent anyone from owning a Sherman tank or a Browning automatic rifle.
The gun lobby's chant that it is our constitutional right to bear arms is outdated, sick and illogical. I applaud Sen. Williams for trying to do something, but I am afraid that this needs to be discussed at higher levels. Until we get some courageous leaders, I am afraid that the killing will continue. Our brave police officers are at a severe disadvantage and need the help of our lawmakers to make meaningful change.
Once again, Lisa Scottoline has put into writing the frustrations of everyday life that we all have experienced at one time or another ("When did to-do lists become DIY lists?" May 11). But she can make us laugh, commiserate and understand completely because we've been there, too.
Re: "Report: City schools unsafe, unjust," May 10:
Before there was so much emphasis on the rights of students, I was slapped by a student. This was about 1980. The principal took the student away and he never returned to the school. I remember going to about three hearings before he was sent to a disciplinary school and ordered to receive counseling. Luckily that was the only time something like this happened to me.
As the years went by, I learned of disruptive students who, after an incident, returned to their schools. This obviously sent a message to others that nothing could happen to them. If there were repercussions, they usually came so late after the initial incident that the other students and teachers had forgotten what had happened.
I have also seen teachers made to feel sorry for students by the administration, and asked to give them another chance. Sometimes the clout of a parent with the principal also has a bearing on an incident's being reported.
It is no wonder that the violence in the schools is escalating. Instead of seeing the report by the safe-schools advocate as a way to tighten up the lax handling of these situations, the school district is blasting the report.