doesn't get it

Re: "Asian students back at school, seeking peace," Thursday:

School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman just doesn't get it. She said she took a hard line in dealing with Asian students who boycotted South Philadelphia High School to protest racial violence there. So, what exactly is her hard line?

Is she standing firm on her low school-violence numbers, even after they were proved to be false? Is she standing firm on her support of the principal who has a deplorable record in administration? Is she still holding firm in placing the best interests of certain minority groups over those of others?

Charles T. Graham


Know the roots

of school violence

The first step in preventing school violence is knowing what's really going on. Last year, the state confirmed it had been failing, since 1995, to meet requirements on gathering data on school violence, allowing some districts to underreport incidents. Philadelphia reported that violence had dropped by more than half, when in fact it had increased.

As a member of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, I have been working to improve reporting of school violence. I held a summit two years ago and followed up by authoring an amendment that would have greatly improved reporting standards. This session, I have introduced similar legislation to set clear guidelines for what must be reported and how; hold state departments of education accountable for reporting, which will in turn increase pressure on schools to accurately report incidents; and provide grants to implement proper recording procedures.

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.)


Place emphasis

on local ancestors

The committee convened to guide the President's House memorial should help create history that is reflective of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania at the time this nation came into being.

My ancestor, Joseph Williams, and far more than a dozen other free African Americans, lived on the National Historical Park site at the time this nation was founded. The National Park Service has already memorialized the racially integrated and relatively cohesive nature of the Philadelphia community at that time by identifying the residents of the Constitution Center site and their residences on plaques located at the center.

Pennsylvania adopted the first state-based emancipation act in 1780. Was it not adopted within the historic park site, and did it not clearly form a precedent for this nation's greatest transformation after becoming a nation? That success should be recognized here, not the experience of nine Virginians who lived here temporarily.

Byron W. Woodson Sr.


No cell phones safe

when driving

The other day I was driving along the highway. My left hand held the steering wheel. My eyes and concentration were on the traffic and conditions ahead of me. My right hand rested on my knee. It would have been no different if that hand had been gripping the gear shift, holding a water bottle, or holding a cell phone - for I was driving safely.

It's not what the hand is doing; it's what the mind is doing. Accidents occur when the mind is not concentrating on driving, traffic, and conditions ahead - when the mind is thinking about other things, like the voice on the other end of the cell phone, handheld or not.

It's not like the radio, which you can mentally tune out for a moment, or even the voice from a passenger in the car, which you also can tune out by just saying, "Wait a second while we get through this intersection." A cell phone mounted on the dashboard is no better than a handheld one. We can't both talk on the cell phone and drive safely.

Bill Steltzer

West Grove

War's escalation

isn't moral

It is said that in any war every one of the Ten Commandments is broken, grievously and often.

Do people remember reading The Red Badge of Courage, All's Quiet on the Western Front, From Here to Eternity, The Naked and the Dead, or similar accounts? The individuals who wrote those books had "been there," and like Elijah, came back to tell about it. Most of us haven't been listening very well, have we?

Now, even with President Obama it seems, here we go again, to an escalated war in Afghanistan, and the breaking of every one of those and other morals and ethics, by all sides, all over again. Who really sees, or cares, or speaks? Who will be available to rebuild what is destroyed or provide for the widows and orphans left behind?

Rev. David W. Long

West Chester