This was no apology

According to the story "Fla. shooter offers apology" (April 21), George Zimmerman, the man accused of second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, spoke to the parents of the 17-year-old victim in court. He offered what was labeled an "apology" by saying that he was "sorry for the loss of your son." He went on to say that he did not realize the age of the boy or that he was unarmed.

This was not an apology. An apology, according to the Random House Dictionary, "offers remorse, sorrow, or regret for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another."

Zimmerman says he is "sorry for the loss of your son," but does not acknowledge that he was the one who killed the boy. This was not a random event; Trayvon was shot and killed by Zimmerman.

The statement by Zimmerman was a poor substitute for a true apology, which would have at least included the words, "I am sorry that I killed your son."

Clare Mackie, Haverford

Horrified at death of 6-year-old

I am horrified to read about the failure of the Departmet of Human Services to prevent the tragic death of 6-year-old Khalil Wimes ("How city agencies failed to save Khalil," Tuesday).

How many times will this happen to the helpless children who depend on caseworkers to recognize the signs of abuse? It's ridiculous that a social worker saw him not long before his death and did nothing. How could a judge side with the biological parents who had children removed from them in the past? How could this happen when Khalil's foster mother wanted to adopt him and give him a safe, nurturing home?

Khalil was left helpless in the hands of abusers who allegedly made him suffer pain that no child should have to endure. My tears will not bring him back, but I stand for change of a system that has failed too often. If this is not a wake-up call for the mayor's office, I can't imagine what would be.

My heart goes out to Alicia Nixon, who fought for this beautiful child and was rejected at every turn.

Stephanie Albero, Glen Mills, stephalbero@yahoo.com

Children in state of bondage

I grew up in the foster-care system of the 1950s and '60s. I had wonderful long-term foster parents who did the very best they knew how for me. Unfortunately, I did witness other kids being pulled back into biological family situations that were far, far from ideal time and time again.

Children as chattel, children as property. Not in some distant third-world country, but right here in America. When will it ever end?

Sure, the Department of Human Services deserves its share of blame, but what about the antiquated, patriarchal laws that pretty much keep abandoned children in a pseudo-state of bondage to people who can, more often than not, barely take care of themselves, let alone their innocent, defenseless offspring. Talk about cruelty.

M.C. Schuhl, Pennsburg, mc.schuhl@gmail.com

Perverting intent of Medicare

Why is it that funding for programs that help ordinary Americans are often in jeopardy ("The right way to fix Medicare," Wednesday)? Why isn't war in jeopardy? Or the biggest military budget on this planet? Further, why talk about Medicare costs alone while ignoring the rest of a completely broken health-care system, the most expensive in the world as a percentage of GDP, with a private for-profit system rising in cost even faster than Medicare?

It's not just costs, but a retiring baby-boom generation that increases Medicare enrollment. Therefore, Medicare must be allowed to negotiate drug prices just as Veterans Affairs does. That alone would save billions of dollars. Since so many in Congress frown upon protectionist trade barriers, why allow them in health care? Permit drug reimportation from Canada. Stop paying private Medicare plans more than traditional Medicare. Lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55, enrolling a healthier population while adding revenue. Look into a more efficient single-payer system for all.

The problem is that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and others like him would like nothing more than to end Medicare as we know it and shift millions of dollars in costs to seniors to finance his plan for tax cuts for the wealthy. His is a perversion of the intent of Medicare, which was to protect the old and sick from financial ruin in the final years of their lives.

Elaine Hughes, Ambler

The real Fishtown

I don't know if the writer of the letter "Pioneers of today's Fishtown" (Wednesday) ever lived in Fishtown in the 1960s, but I did and so did my family. There were no hoodlum teenage children who supposedly harassed gays and were on drugs in my neighborhood. I grew up on Norris Street, near Tulip. It was a sedate, safe neighborhood with well-behaved teens, including me, who respected their elders and certainly did not use drugs. Those blocks from Norris to Cedar, in fact the entire neighborhood, needed no rehabbing. The homes were and are well kept and in many cases passed down from parent to child.

Laura Szatny, King of Prussia

State of Philly education

The state of education in Philadelphia would be ironically amusing if it were not so sad and serious.

One month ago, the trauma of closing Catholic high schools and grade schools dominated the news. Now the plight of the Philadelphia public schools — "nearly insolvent" — is the latest headline ("Budget may close 40 Phila. schools," Tuesday). So after spending about $11,000 per student annually, according to last year's "Report Card On Schools," what are the results? Fifty percent of the students don't graduate from many city schools, and those who do fight violence and try to learn in an impossible environment.

If we and our elected representatives cannot see a solution for better educational results than the public schools presently provide, and a financial solution to benefit all taxpayers as well with school choice, then we probably need to reevaluate our own education or at least our common sense.

Daniel P. McCartney, Richboro

America's diminishing culture

What a shameful, malicious portrait of our American culture and its people was exposed in Dana Milbank's column "At home and abroad, Americans party hard" (Monday). Our country was once identified by the world as a bulwark of morality and religious values, not only democratic ideals.

With our languishing religious values, honesty, integrity, and spousal fidelity, is it any wonder that our society has become less faithful to all the qualities that formerly enhanced America? Now, all the world has been exposed to our diminishing culture. God bless America, but God help us now.

Mary Donnelly, West Chester