Dignity instead of discord

While reading letters to the Inquirer, I am troubled by the anger, name-calling, and disrespect for others who don't share one's point of view. Instead of looking for differences among us, we should be looking for the similarities. We all want the same things - safety for our families, a fair living wage, hope for our children's future, a comfortable retirement, respect, and more.

Instead of "deplorables," "intelligentsia," or other labels, we should admit there is dignity and necessity to every line of work, especially in a job well-done.

We are all in this United States of America ship together, and what lifts one of us lifts all of us, and what takes down one of us takes down all of us.

|James Seyboldt, Warminster

Innocent until proven guilty

In the 12-part Bill of Rights series, "How and why the Sixth Amendment works" (Dec. 18) contained a glaring error in stating, "A speedy trial protects a defendant from languishing in jail forever before he can prove his innocence." A defendant is not required to prove his innocence. That is one of the horrors the Sixth Amendment was written to prevent. America operates on the presumption of innocence, not proof of innocence. It is the burden of the state to prove the guilt of the defendant.

|Stanley J. Lieberman, West Chester, stanley.lieberman@verizon.net

Bravo to Stutzmann's 'Messiah'

I would like to congratulate the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir on an outstanding performance of Handel's Messiah (" 'Messiah' rebounds, earns an ovation," Dec. 20). Although this piece is a fixture of the season, and I've heard it countless times, this performance had a level of energy and enthusiasm that will be difficult to match. Much of the credit goes to the conductor, Nathalie Stutzmann. Her obvious love for this music and great ability to express it through the players was definitely felt by the audience - especially me.

|Peter Schwartz, Huntingdon Valley, peterjschwartz@comcast.net

Libraries for all public schools

The Democratic National Convention host committee's generous donation for classroom libraries in Philadelphia elementary schools, while laudable, reinforces the message that public education is a charity, not a civic duty ("Celebrating 80,000 new books for Phila. schools," Dec. 20). The sad truth is that most city public schools no longer have functioning school libraries. Classroom libraries do not have the depth or breadth of reading material to meet all students' literacy needs. Neither do classroom libraries supply the tools and instruction needed to find and evaluate online and print information. A school library with a certified librarian would provide this.

The Democratic Party should work on securing adequate funding to provide all of the country's public schools with the resources they need to educate all of their students.

|Deborah Grill, Philadelphia

Deadline for property-tax rebate

Pennsylvania's Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible residents age 65 and older, widows and widowers 50 and older, and people with disabilities 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.

In the last 45 years, the program has distributed more than $6.1 billion. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.

Applications must be postmarked no later than Saturday (Dec. 31). Claim forms (PA-1000) and information are available at www.revenue.pa.gov and by calling, toll free, 1-888-222-9190.

|Eileen McNulty, Pennsylvania secretary of revenue,

Harrisburg

Tenure protects teachers' rights

Columnist Charles Krauthammer expressed his dislike for teachers' unions and tenure ("Trump picks a reaction to overreach by Obama," Dec. 19). Teachers, unlike businesspeople, are under the jurisdiction of Boards of Education, whose members generally have no background in education.

Imagine the following scenario: a board member decides to save the school district money by dismissing a professional of 20 years who is at the top of the pay scale, and, as a favor, hires her nephew, who recently graduated from college. Krauthammer is not so naive as to believe that such nepotism would not happen. Tenure ensures that students receive an education not subject to political whims or arbitrary administrative decisions. Tenure is not a guarantee to a lifetime job; it simply ensures the right to due process.

|John Duffy, Haddonfield, duffaphonic@netzero.net