What goes conveniently unsaid in the Philadelphia School District's plan to add 2,300 new seats is that class sizes will grow ("19 top-performing schools in Phila. will add students," Wednesday). By and large, expansion will not come from adding new classrooms or new teachers. That would cost money.
Instead, schools that have been successful with medium-size classes (mid-twenties) will be forced to squeeze in additional students (low thirties). While I am sure the School District would like to think that this will have no impact on student performance, numerous studies have shown otherwise. The very thing that has helped these schools be top performers in the first place will be eliminated.
Eric Cohen, Philadelphia
I had been puzzled and vaguely troubled by the fascination with the sinking of the Titanic. Then I realized what was bothering me. The tragedy that befell the passengers — the well-to-do and the immigrants — was not supposed to happen to them. The class and color of the victims was supposed to protect them from such disasters. The press of the time accorded this single and relatively insignificant event, albeit highly significant for the families involved, attention and glamour that has never been ascribed to the deaths at sea of millions of Africans. Apparently, wearing jewels rather than chains while sinking to the bottom of the ocean is of greater interest to newspaper-readers and moviegoers — then and now. That is what has been troubling me.
Jill Gates Smith, Philadelphia
I enjoyed the article about the SS United States ("Time to rescue another great ship," Sunday). As a frequent user of the Walt Whitman Bridge and having regularly seen the ship since 2009, I have done a little research on its heritage.
The ship was not built in Philadelphia or Chester, but in Norfolk, Va. If Virginia doesn't want it, I think we should keep it in Philadelphia, as a tourist attraction and the centerpiece of a "new" Penn's Landing or as part of the revived Navy Yard.
I would hate to see this piece of history move to Chester or the scrap heap. Think about how many manufacturing and trades jobs its restoration would provide. It would be better than creating another 1,500 casino workers. I'm surprised a Mr. Marriott or Mr. Hilton isn't interested.
Howard Weisz, West Chester
Create U.S. jobs
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) is praised for sponsoring the JOBS Act, an important piece of legislation that will supposedly "enable a fair number of ... firms to expand and potentially take the next step up to become the next Microsoft or Apple" ("The effective Pa. senator," Sunday). All that is well and good, but the law means diddly to American workers and the U.S. economy unless what is produced by those companies carries the "Made in USA" label. Hasn't the Steve Jobs experience opened our eyes?
Anthony Marquez, Bear, firstname.lastname@example.org
In my youth, it never occurred to me that one day, my Catholic faith would become a fierce embarrassment to me. Yet this is just what happens when I read the accounts of the trial of Msgr. William J. Lynn ("Witness at trial names a bishop," Thursday). Worse, I find myself rooting for the prosecution.
There are two reasons for my attitude. First, the horrific tales of depravity. Second, the wholly uncharitable comments the defense has made about victims turn my stomach. There is a high probability that the defense attorneys are fine Catholic gentlemen. If that is so, I suppose I have three reasons for my discomfort.
Francis X. Healy Jr., Warrington, email@example.com
Before we irrationally jump on Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen's recent statement that Ann Romney has "never worked a day in her life," I have to wonder about the willful misinterpretation of that statement ("'Mommy' issue enters race," April 13). Rosen clearly intended to refer to "work" for which one is paid. Besides this, Ann Romney's response, "My career choice was to be a mother," is far more damaging. Why is it necessary to prop up motherhood by equating it with paid work? Couldn't we imagine much more radical, not to mention accurate, ways of characterizing why motherhood — and, ahem, fatherhood, too — are worthwhile endeavors?
The issue is not "mommies"; it's equal pay for women in the workforce. And the issue being debated demonstrates that we gain nothing from misidentifying motherhood as a paid gig. Ask the 25 million working mothers in this country, many of whom need to make a decent living in order to support their families. I'd rather debate about finding more public funding and employer flexibility to support all acts of care-giving than pretend that mothering is the same as punching the clock.
Kelly George, Philadelphia
If abortion is merely a medical procedure and only that, then Michele Vaughn is right to object to the ultrasound legislation ("No room for an attack on women," Sunday). Her position makes all the sense in the world, unless a child is being killed. If that is the case, and pro-lifers are right, then this law appears much more reasonable.
The crux of the abortion debate is when to recognize a developing life as a human being, and thus deserving of our utter support. Vaughn's overheated "attack on women" rhetoric is disingenuous at best, and sanctions wholesale slaughter at worst.
Andy Horvath, Elverson
All against crime
It's insulting when Annette John-Hall comments on black-on-black crime, "Whites like to ignore it by saying criminals killing each other have nothing to do with them" ("Black-on-black crime a crisis that needs a solution," Tuesday). Please refrain from such general statements. The people of Philadelphia, both white and black, want this problem addressed and not ignored.