I WANT TO commend the Daily News on its editorial, "Hite and Sink," which accurately captures the challenges facing the Philadelphia School District. My Council colleagues and I understand that Philadelphia schools are in a funding crisis, and we understand that Harrisburg (which has overseen Philadelphia schools for over a decade) is the party most responsible for that crisis. City Council has been working closely with our state delegation to support their efforts to convince the governor to stand up for our schoolchildren.
But while Gov. Corbett may choose to turn his back on our children, Philadelphia's leaders must rise to the challenge. Given this funding crisis, I do not think this is the time to dole out the tens of millions of dollars in property and use-and-occupancy tax breaks that AVI will deliver to the city's biggest businesses. Under the Use and Occupancy reform legislation that I have proposed, we could reduce these tax breaks, protect the city's small businesses and commercial corridors, and provide our schools with the resources they need to open their doors in September. Some members of the business community will call this a tax hike, but for a vast majority of these businesses we are simply asking them to accept less of a tax cut.
As your editorial correctly states, this is a stop-gap measure, not a solution to our public-education struggles. But it is vital that the city, state, school district and teachers union, come together and face this crisis. Philadelphia's voters should pay attention to how our leaders respond as we look to the 2014 elections.
Maria D. Quinones Sanchez
Councilwoman, 7th District
The editorial, "A Taxing Debate," is a horrific treatment of the Actual Value Initiative by this newspaper's editorial staff. City Council is doing its job by recognizing its constituents' problems and issues regarding their new property taxes. There is a property-tax problem currently in the city, but Mayor Nutter's first step in the Actual Value initiative creates more problems than it solves.
In addition, "A Taxing Debate" makes several claims that are simply exaggerations. In reality, nearly 75 percent of single-family households will see an increased tax under AVI; also, the seemingly cohesive calculations done by OPA are flawed. Assessments jump around not from neighborhood to neighborhood, but from house to house. Formulas used for calculations aren't even public knowledge at this point, and, therefore, are protected by a cloud of political machinations.
Even the appeals process for AVI is flawed. Of the 25,000 homeowners who have appealed their AVI assessment, a number of them are being sued by the City of Philadelphia for winning their appeal. How is this fair? This is the blatant disregard for homeowners' rights as well a a sore-loser mentality by the city of Philadelphia.
Something needs to be done about the property-tax system in the city of Philadelphia. However, AVI is not that thing.
Alex Palmer and Zhixin Lin
A matter of trust
OK, let's get this straight: The Schaible family, as wonderful and grateful as they may be to God, appear to have been missing one major component, and that component is not a matter of faith - rather it's a matter of trust. Last time I checked, God enabled many of us humans to become knowledgeable doctors and parents. Shucks, I've prayed to God on many occasions in life, however I'm not always totally dependent on Him when it comes to perhaps a simple doctor's opinion.
Yes, it is OK to have trust as well-however, the Schaible family, with their seven other children, at this point may need more than faith and trust in the Lord. This time I think they may need another one of God's creatures: a good lawyer.
Bill Heiser, Jr.
Wrong metric system
Dom Giordano is concerned that we are a "nation in crisis" ("Education and the 30-years war") because he can find no measure of progress in the way we are educating students. That despite the steady increase in high-school (88 percent) and college (41 percent for associates and bachelors degrees) graduation rates since "A Nation at Risk" was published.
The only metric that worries Dom is the money spent nationally on public education, which must be higher than the roughly $600 billion he quotes from 2010.
Poorly funded, assembly-line education has never worked, and testing is not teaching. We can set the highest standards we want, but we cannot do more with less nor demand that 100 percent of students reach an impossible goal by a certain deadline or else, a la No Child Left Behind. The only proven way to close the achievement gap is to lower class size and provide needed resources for children at risk.
And if we truly want our students to become literate, thinking citizens, we must offer them a well-balanced curriculum that includes science, social studies and the creative arts.
Gloria C. Endres