YOUR JULY 13 editorial, "To Their Tax Credit . . ." about the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, ignores the fact that the program provides high-quality educational options for children and families in need.

What's more, contrary to the editorial, organizations like the Children's Scholarship Fund Philadelphia provide the very highest levels of accountability when it comes to the funds it receives from donors. As Pennsylvania's largest provider of scholarship support for grades K-8, CSFP serves over 6,200 Philadelphia children in more than 175 schools who receive on average $1,900 per child, per year. Parents must be involved and contribute toward tuition. The average yearly tuition for these schools is $4,000. Scholarships are all need-based and are awarded by lottery.

CSFP has been measuring outcomes for more than 10 years, and the evidence demonstrates that our children succeed when provided the opportunity to do so. With an average family income of $29,000, CSFP children go on to graduate high school at rates greater than 96 percent. This is in stark contrast to the public school rate, which is less than 65 percent.

I agree that accountability is a worthy goal for the EITC program, but let's not lose sight of the vital role that the EITC plays in creating opportunities for students in the poorest-performing public schools to have a chance at a better education and a better life.

Renee Brooks

Educator and member of CSFP Board of Directors

'Disgusting' too mild a word for Planned Parenthood

After viewing some of the videos referenced by Christine Flowers in her column about what Planned Parenthood does with the remains of aborted babies, I totally agree that this is an example of pure evil. In one video, for example, an administrator haggles over prices for organs. In another, a doctor describes which body parts she tries not to "crush" during the procedure. At no time do these monsters admit that unborn babies are sentient human beings capable of feeling pain as they are being torn to pieces and their organs harvested. Disgusting is too mild a word.

Gloria C. Endres


Flower's planned response to Planned Parenthood

"Blood money from tiny limbs," sigh, and once again, we see that the lie of the carefully-composed set of assertions has its effect on partisans who have already made up their minds and who just say "Ah-ha!" and declare that the "sting" video confirms their darkest suspicions.

No, there are no fetal body parts for sale. It was clear to me from my very first viewing of the video that the prices cited were far too low to be black market prices. What do I mean by that? From a marketing perspective, a marijuana joint and a tobacco cigarette are pretty much identical. Dried plant material is rolled up in paper and sold to be smoked. Yet, the joint goes for far more than the cigarette does. Why is that? Economists call it the "risk premium." The vendors are compensated for the extra risk of bringing illegal dried plant material into the country.

Is there a black market in fetal body parts? No, because the prices cited are far too low for that. The money cited in the video is to compensate the hospital for the cost of moving the fetal body parts in a safe and effective manner so that the body part can be used for medical and scientific purposes.

Does the person in the video use an overly clinical and dispassionate method of discussing fetal body parts? I can fully understand why someone who doesn't discuss the subject every day would be appalled and disgusted, but when you deal with the subject every day, it's pretty hard to maintain a language of awe and deep respect. That doesn't mean the people involved don't feel that way, though.

Richmond Gardner


SEPTA, you got some explaining to do

I have one question for SEPTA. When the president was here the only thing that was done to the everyday ridership was that the El was shut down for a half hour, but for the pope you disenfranchise an entire segment of the everyday rider demographic. As one who pays for a monthly Trailpass, I really want to know why there is no mention of compensation for me not being able to get to work. I really need to get some type of clarification from SEPTA on this issue.

Charlette Parns