If Vick stays,

this fan goes

I've been a fan for as long as I can remember, but if the NFL lets Michael Vick back in, and the Eagles, as an organization, don't publicly disavow it, then I'll miss the Eagles ("Vick, reinstated by NFL, now needs a team," Tuesday). I'll still love them, but I'll miss them.

As a fan, I can hate Dallas, or Washington, or the Giants. I can boo when TO takes the field. But the felon Vick is in another class. Anyone involved - league, teams, advertisers - who doesn't take a stand is no longer going to get my support. I'm sure there are many who feel the same way, and I hope they make their feelings known by withholding their dollars.

Bob Isard

Elkins Park

Public option

crucial to reform

We have a national, systemic problem when it comes to American health care, and it requires a national, systemic solution. I support a single-payer system.

As the son of a now-retired officer in the U.S. military, I grew up with a government health-care system called TriCare. My sister and mother had it, and my father continues to benefit from it in retirement. This comprehensive program has 9.4 million beneficiaries.

But everyone, by virtue of being an American and a human being, deserves health care. To that end, two of Pennsylvania's U.S. representatives, Chaka Fattah and Michael Doyle, have co-sponsored a bill calling for single-payer Medicare for all. This bill is the ideal, but a compromise is in the works in Congress in the form of a public plan option.

Public options are an integral feature of society: public police and fire protection, public education, public libraries, public parks, etc. There is no alternative but to reform a health-care system that is falling apart. A robust public health insurance option like Medicare - accountable to Congress and the American people - offered alongside the private plans is a practical compromise toward that goal. Anything less will fail as reform.

Dan Alamia

Philadelphia

Two things

to remember

As the debate on health-care reform continues, the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats should keep two things in mind as they continue to assail President Obama's efforts to reform our arcane and expensive system.

First, the proposed cost of the reforms over 10 years is $1 trillion and the proposal will cover those costs. The cost of the Bush tax cuts over 10 years was $1.37 trillion and none of it was funded. These tax cuts were paid for by deficit spending.

Second, Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats are adamantly opposed to the public option because, they say, private insurance companies will not be able to compete. That being the case, they should all act on principle and renounce their taxpayer-funded health coverage, the best in the nation, and go out into their revered market and buy their own coverage, thereby saving the taxpayers the cost of insuring them and their families.

Jonathan S. Swope

Honey Brook

Bipartisan support

needed for passage

I support the need for universal health care for American citizens and can't imagine that others don't feel the same. However, I can't understand the reluctance to support some meaningful reduction in the number of lawsuits permitted and the taxation of "Cadillac plans."

Does anyone doubt that doctors are forced into performing unnecessary tests and procedures to avoid malpractice lawsuits? Does anyone doubt that in the absence of co-payments, patients think twice before scheduling routine services or tests?

If there is to be meaningful bipartisan support for health-care reform, the sacred cows will have to be sacrificed to reduce overall costs to make reform financially acceptable. As a registered Democrat, I urge our representatives to make the politically hard choices for the best interests of the American people.

Edward Lynch

Lahaska

Safety advocate

needed in schools

The first step to improving achievement is making schools safe havens for learning. The Safe Schools Advocate's Office is crucial to that goal ("Money or safety?" July 25).

School violence, and the perception that the district doesn't deal with disruptive and violent students effectively, is the biggest reason that good teachers quit and motivated students flee public schools. Eliminating the Safe Schools Advocate's Office will exacerbate the problem.

Though underfunded and understaffed, the safe schools advocate is the only voice for victims of school crime. Jack Stollsteimer has ripped through a shroud of secrecy, reducing the under-reporting of crime. He is a tenacious advocate for better discipline policies and alternative education programs, and he has pushed administrators to do a better, fairer, and more consistent job of disciplining and rehabilitating serious offenders.

Not all school violence results in visible wounds, but teachers see the effects of bullying and violence in students who are fearful, can't concentrate, cut school, fail classes, or drop out.

Jerry T. Jordan

President

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

EFCA will help

improve economy

Kevin Ferris' column framed the current debate surrounding the Employee Free Choice Act ("Card check: Watch the good senator tiptoe," Sunday). Often missing from this discussion is that majority sign-up is not a novel approach, but a well-established method for workers to choose a union, as over half a million have done in the last five years.

Despite some speculation that this provision has been stricken from the bill, we remain confident that lawmakers will heed the support of 73 percent of the public and pass strong labor law reform this year. We hope Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.) will stand committed to the fundamental principles of the Employee Free Choice Act as the details of the bill are worked out through the many steps in the legislative process.

This measure will give Pennsylvania's workers a fair path to choose to form a union, toughen penalties against lawbreaking employers, and prevent companies from using endless stall tactics to deny workers a contract. These policies are needed more than ever to create an economy that works for everyone again.

Kimberly Freeman

Acting executive director

American Rights at Work

Washington