Why private schools are so successful

A letter on Wednesday ("Why not fund schools that work?") suggested that the public fund private and Catholic schools.

Well, sure, just as soon as they take every child who applies - including those with special needs, those requiring special education, and those with discipline problems - and agree not to expel them when they choose.

Oh, and yes, they should feed them breakfast and lunch as well. And provide after-school programs.

Since the claim is that they do such a great job, maybe some consideration should be given as to why that is. If they had all the disruptive discipline problems that most public school teachers deal with every day, the results would be very different.

In spite of overwhelming odds, public school teachers do their best to educate every child in public school. The real miracle is that they succeed at all.

The general public has no idea what it's like in today's classrooms. Teachers everywhere deserve great credit and praise, but public school teachers deserve all that plus combat pay.

J. Sweeney

Philadelphia

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Cardinal Rigali ought to resign

David O'Reilly's article on May 14 regarding complaints voiced by Ana Maria Catanzaro ("Head of Philly priest sex-abuse review panel criticizes her church leaders") is yet another indication of the crisis of leadership the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is now facing.

The ongoing revelations of the less-than-acceptable behavior of those in leadership positions in the archdiocese make plain that nothing less than the resignation and departure of Cardinal Justin Rigali will have any likelihood of restoring the trust and confidence of Philadelphia-area Catholics and the general public.

James A. Donahue

Churchville

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Shame on voters who stayed home

Thomas Jefferson said that "all tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." By turning out in such low numbers on Tuesday, the voters of Pennsylvania effectively remained silent and showed their willingness to be subject to the tyranny of the political party bosses.

When only a fraction of eligible voters turns out, the likely winner is the candidate backed by the party machine. Those candidates get extra help: party endorsement, party advertising, and party-sponsored get-out-the-vote efforts. Their names are at the top of sample ballots. But candidates backed by the party are beholden to the party, and may be expected to vote as the party bosses want them to.

I turned 18 just when the right to vote was given to 18-year-olds and am proud to have voted in every primary and general election since. Our right to vote freely, for the candidate of our choice, is a precious commodity envied around the world. That so many Americans do not go to the polls because it is raining or inconvenient is more than just sad.

Stephen Cooney

Pottstown

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Pensioners already are making sacrifices

In all the talk about "selfish" senior citizens and baby boomers, and the need for them to sacrifice benefits ("The Fed vs. nervous retirees," May 14), what tends to be overlooked is that they already are making those sacrifices.

Artificially low interest rates have clearly played a role in the weakening dollar and the rise in the price of commodities, as well as in the continuing decline in real estate values.

Basics such as food and fuel go way up, but pension cost-of-living formulas do not reflect these increases. Savings accounts and bonds pay a pittance. Older citizens whose whole lives have been built upon thrift - a savings safety net, and the value of their homes - now see both seriously decline in value.

My retirement account earned .04 percent last year. My home has declined in value about 25 percent since 2008.

The politicians like to talk about a future of shared sacrifice, but grandma has already sacrificed. She's being robbed to pay both Wall Street and a government that can't balance its budget.

Richard Iaconelli

Philadelphia

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One simple exercise keeps weight off

I partly agree with a letter Wednesday ("Mothers need choices, not guilt"), but I have some interesting information.

I attended a small high school in Bellevue, Ky., from 1942 until 1946. When I went through the school's yearbook, there were 367 students and only six looked obese.

One has only to look at the people on the street today, children and adults. A huge proportion are obese. I ride public transportation and see a number of people who almost fill the aisle between the seats.

I am 5-foot-7. When I was 40, I weighed 190 pounds. After dieting, I weighed 140, and today I weigh 145.

My doctor says people need only one exercise: Pushing back from the table before eating too much.

Albert Bary

Philadelphia

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Show better taste in photos, please

The photo of Nigar Jamal and Eldar Gasinov in The Inquirer on May 15 ("Azerbaijan wins Europe song fest") struck me as distasteful. I went to Philly.com and, lo and behold, six other pictures appeared, but the one in the print edition showed Jamal with her skirt up around her waist! I thought The Inquirer had better judgment.

Maria McDonald

Rockledge