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Letters to the Editor

S. Phila. principal should be fired Principal Alice Heller of South Philadelphia High School is going to fight her removal ("Ackerman to remove at least 6 school principals," Friday).

S. Phila. principal

should be fired

Principal Alice Heller of South Philadelphia High School is going to fight her removal ("Ackerman to remove at least 6 school principals," Friday).

Any principal (or teacher, for that matter) who promises an entire grade of students that no one will be left back should be fired for mere stupidity. Saying that she promises that because "it's a good thing for self-esteem, and it teaches them responsibility" is just ludicrous.

Self-esteem comes from accomplishing something, not from getting a free pass. And responsibility, or rather lack thereof, is the precise reason these kids are in the situation they find themselves in. A free pass only reinforces their lack of responsibility.

Rich Boerckel



success in school

As a retired Philadelphia teacher who knows how the system works, I began to wonder: When did success in school mean moving students to the next grade instead of measuring what they had learned?

When students don't attend classes, pass tests, or do homework, they should not be passed to the next grade. Promising any student that he or she will, no matter what, move to the next grade is an invitation to do nothing. "Multiple pathways to success" is another name for not learning.

Michele Mailman


Other fiscal factors

affect college ranking

Without the proper context, news stories such as Saturday's "Four local colleges flunk U.S. cash test" can unintentionally damage institutions by leaving readers with misperceptions.

The U.S. Department of Education's financial-responsibility test includes important financial ratios, but by no means gives a comprehensive examination of an institution's fiscal health. The three ratios used can fluctuate significantly from year to year, causing an institution to go onto and fall off the list. If, for instance, a college has just assumed fresh debt for a new building, it may suddenly find itself on the department's list. That same institution can easily pass the fiscal test a couple of years later when some debt is paid down.

The public should not be alarmed by an institution appearing on this federal list unless it stays on the list for a prolonged time.

Don L. Francis


Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania


New choices

for cancer victims

Thanks to Stacey Burling for shedding light on the difficult choices cancer patients must face while pursuing treatment ("Cancer patients' agony of options," Sunday).

Lung-cancer patients, in particular, face additional obstacles of fending off the stigma of what is often thought to be a "self-inflicted" disease, and a nihilism so prevalent in the medical community that patients may not always be referred for appropriate care. The truth is, new lung-cancer treatments are being developed and tested every day, and the development of a treatment plan by a multi-disciplinary care team can result in the management of this disease.

The Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act (House of Representatives Bill 1844) would mandate Medicare coverage of such treatment and survivorship plans. There is hope for a day when all cancer patients will have access to adequately plan their care.

Regina Vidaver

Executive director

National Lung Cancer Partnership

Madison, Wis.



Re: "Builder's ambition hits Phila. ceiling," Monday:

Your article illustrates what is wrong with zoning laws. Under the present system, developers commit time, effort, and money to develop a plan. Then they have to get permission from one or more boards and commissions to continue. After they get this permission, they are still subject to the whims of government officials and community groups.

The purpose of zoning laws may be to "give neighborhoods more say in development." In practice, the laws subject developers to the power of government officials. But even if the laws gave the community power, they would be wrong. A dictatorship of the proletariat is still a dictatorship.

Stephen Plafker


Parking Authority

is a disgrace

Marcia Gelbart's article showed how tourism is affected by our shortsighted Philadelphia Parking Authority ("Philadelphia's rep is getting the boot," Tuesday). The callous treatment of visitors and locals alike is a disgrace. The Parking Authority adversely affects the quality of life of Philadelphians and contributes to the outward migration.

Ronald D. Boschan