Change of priorities for nuns

Monica Yant Kinney's "Vatican's rebuke of nuns" (Sunday) was written with journalistic excellence. As a former nun (30 years), I recall the vision of Vatican II instructing my community to return to the charism of our founder, a Jesuit in France. Long gone, thank God, were the outdated, heavy ,black, serge habits, just one external change among many.

The priority was on the spirit and mission of our founder to get back on the streets in the "dress of the day," ministering to the needs of social justice and acting in a manner befitting the phrase "What would Jesus do?" And, in keeping with the "manhandling" of the priests we worked with, it was ludicrous to even begin to expect that some (not all) priests even began to understand what Jesus would do.

Theresa M. Coleman, North Wales

God bless the nuns

Had Monica Yant Kinney kept her prejudices and anti-Catholic Church rant in check concerning the recently released "Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious," she might have offered an intelligent, balanced, and informed article on the subject.

However, in the midst of all the sneering and snarking, she has offered one wise and reasonable suggestion: Read the doctrinal assessment (http://bit.ly/JamGHa). I would also suggest that the answer to the question "Where have all the nuns gone?" can be found in the detailed writings of Ann Carey, Donna Steichen, and Sister Dolores Liptak for starters. God bless the nuns.

Patricia Oswald, Wayne, patoz@comcast.net

Believing the unbelievable

In regards to the letter "A question of faith" (Monday), when it comes to religion, faith is believing the unbelievable just because you want to.

Bradley Clineschmidt, Perkiomenville

Irony of shuttle lament

Does anyone recognize the rich irony of Charles Krauthammer lamenting the passing of our national pride and joy, the space shuttle program ("Requiem for a spaceship — and a nation's ambition," Monday)? The right wing abhors big government, and now that the outsourcing of shuttling to the International Space Station has been achieved, their ace-in-the-hole pundit tells us it is a sign of our deterioration as a nation.

Krauthammer laid the blame for the demise of the space shuttle program at the feet of President Obama, when in fact the ending was initiated under President George W. Bush. This is the fantasy/fictional world in which Obama is forced to run for reelection.

Roy Lehman, Woolwich Township

Costs of smaller government

I doubt that I am the only reader to howl with amusement at Charles Krauthammer's column. It should be obvious to anyone who understands economics, or has marveled at our accomplishments from the late 1950s to the present, that the space program costs lots and lots of money. We all know who doesn't want to pay for the "incomparably sophisticated, uniquely American technological enterprise" the space program represents, but it is amusing to think we can maintain the American way of life while so many shriek at paying taxes at the level that we paid during those glorious days of space exploration.

Things cost money. Krauthammer is right that the private sector will not be able to take over this program. It was a well-run (for the most part) government program. Get it? Government. Government is not evil, and I hope it will continue to improve the lives of Americans, but it needs fuel. It needs money. Only the naive think otherwise. You want smaller government? I don't think you're going to like it.

Lucille Kahan, Kennett Square

Combat education challenges

There are many theories about how to improve education, including higher teacher salaries, better preparation of teachers, more parental involvement, better learning facilities, better transportation services, more money, more charter schools, year-round schools, provisions for different learners, and lunch for children in need. These proposals can make a difference, but with limitations.

It is time to accept the fact that the biggest factor in a child's ability to learn is what happens outside the classroom. Negative influences hinder learning to an enormous degree. I refer to violence in the community and schools, low school attendance, use of drugs, excessive sexual behavior, disruptive home conditions, and the acceptance of poor societal role models. These distractions interfere with a successful education.

Though it is a monumental task, we as educators must combat these challenges and provide a better future world for our young citizens.

Morton Tener, Glenside

Philly fashion icons

Elizabeth Wellington's list of 25 Philadelphia fashion icons (April 18) makes a grave mistake by including Allen Iverson. In a time when the league commissioner was trying desperately to clean up the NBA's image by having players dress in jackets, Iverson continued to display a fashion sense that could only be described as thug-wear. As the league was attempting to promote a clean, wholesome image to the youth of Philadelphia, Iverson continued to do his best to promote the latest line of inner-city gang clothing. If you are looking for a better dressed Philadelphia entertainer, look no further than Dick Clark. You can never think of Clark without a smart-looking jacket and tie.

Jeff Davis, Media, Geminitis@gmail.com

Truly 'state' colleges are affordable

We continue to be puzzled by the apparent unwillingness of The Inquirer to differentiate between the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities and the other so-called "state schools" in the Commonwealth. The most recent example occurred in an April 19 editorial, "Colleges must do their part on cost," which included the misleading statement that Pennsylvania has "22 of the 30 most expensive state schools in America."

Were you to recognize the different sectors within public higher education, your readers would know that the PASSHE universities not only are the lowest-cost four-year institutions in the state, but also, according to the most recent report by the College Board, have an average total cost of attendance that is $2,400 below the average in the Middle States region, which comprises Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

The universities you reference in your editorial — and that are included on the list of most expensive public universities in the nation — all are state-related institutions, not state universities. None of the schools in the study you cited is a PASSHE university.

The 14 PASSHE universities — including Cheyney and West Chester — have made significant strides in reducing costs over the last decade, eliminating a combined $230 million from their budgets. In four of the last seven years, our annual tuition increases have been below the rate of inflation. Our current annual tuition rate of $6,240 is less than half that of any college or university that made the list.

We take our mission of providing high-quality education at the lowest possible cost very seriously, even in the face of unprecedented fiscal challenges, and will continue to do all we can to achieve the best results for our students.

John C. Cavanaugh, chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Harrisburg