Vallas' mistake

Now that city schools CEO Paul Vallas is almost out the door, will you expose what he did to the internship program a few years ago? Interns were totally involved in their classrooom work and getting their master's in education, when suddenly the program was eliminated. Did Vallas care? These interns were very dedicated and being trained by some of Philadelphia's finest teachers.

I know of one intern who was used as a regular first-grade teacher. His class was made up of all of the first graders whom the experienced first-grade teachers did not want. Obviously, these were kids with emotional problems and learning disabilities.

That teacher, a dedicated young man, quit after three weeks with this so-called "normal" class. He had no help from any administrator. He left the master's program. He never returned to the teaching profession. How do I know all this? That young man is my nephew. Did his principal care? Not a bit. Did Vallas care? No. The school district should be thrilled to be rid of Vallas.

Sarah Clickner
Arcata, Calif.
The writer is a retired Philadelphia schoolteacher.

Remember 'Carlos'?

The May 5 news item about Ilich Ramirez-Sanchez, also known as "Carlos the Jackal," put in perspective the difficulty in capturing Osama bin Laden. For five years, our military, Homeland Security, and administration have been criticized for not finding bin Laden. Before him, Carlos the Jackal was the most wanted terrorist on the planet.

I couldn't help but compare the difficulty in capturing bin Laden to the difficulty the world's police and antiterror units had in capturing Carlos. He was wanted for nearly 20 years - and was not hiding in one of thousands of caves somewhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Jerry Komar

Abstinence-only fraud

We have a preventable public health problem in this country: An estimated 750,000 teenage girls will become pregnant this year, and nearly four million teens will contract a sexually transmitted infection. The United States continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world, and adolescents here are contracting HIV faster than almost any other demographic group.

While 90 percent of the public supports proven, effective, accurate sexuality education that empowers youth, the federal government will spend $176 million this year for abstinence-only programs, which have been widely criticized for denying teens lifesaving information.

The most recent study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. of abstinence-only programs provided more proof that they do not increase abstinence among youth. We must put public health first and reject ideology masquerading as education. Ignorance, in this case, can be fatal.

Karen Fitchette-Gordon
Vice President
Education & Professional Development
Planned Parenthood, SE Pennsylvania

Still with us

Re: "Memories with each meal," May 10, about the recipes a mother left behind:

What a wonderful article. I felt like I was reading my own story. My mother passed away 10 years ago. She split the contents of the house among the children. I got the entire contents of the kitchen, which are like gold to me.

I am 46, but still remember being by her side daily in the kitchen even when I could barely see over the counter. The best gift she gave me was her recipe box. It has taken me years to replicate the recipes because many are just lists of ingredients and crossed-out items, but somehow she is with me when I get a recipe right. I still make her banana bread once a month, even if it has un-heart-healthy shortening in it. But I smell it and Mom is in the house. Just recently we had "her" meatloaf for dinner.

Eileen Conn

McCain's 'honor'?

Re: Kevin Ferris on John McCain ("It's a matter of honor," April 20):

McCain's "honor" has been a wee bit tarnished (by McCain himself). Some examples: He referred to Jerry Falwell and his ilk as "agents of intolerance" in 2000, but now panders to them. He received deserved praise for his cosponsorship of campaign-finance reform, but now eschews the bill because he may need to decide to forgo public financing during the Republican nominating contest. He criticized the troop "surge" in Iraq at first because of the small number of soldiers thrown into the quagmire, but he's fine with it now.

Raising the level of discourse? Only when necessary to achieve his political ends.

Jay Johnson