Business model is what Christie wants
Gov. Christie has nominated former New York City deputy schools chancellor Christopher Cerf to be education commissioner. Is it me, or does anyone else see the incongruity of selecting someone to run New Jersey's schools from a state ranked lower than New Jersey in national academic assessments?
Christie has made it no secret that he is a supporter of charter schools, and so is Cerf, who is a former chief executive of Edison Schools, the country's largest for-profit operator of public schools.
Instead of thinking of replacing public schools with charter schools, the governor should be looking at what works in successful charter schools and comparing that to what is working in the public schools that are not failing.
Maybe Christie would then have a revelation about what really needs to be done to help our children.
Keep duck boats away from Schuylkill
I attended the meeting a week ago at the Free Library on the proposal to move the duck-boat tours to the Schuylkill.
The mayor's representatives were unable to detail any benefits to Philadelphia residents who use Schuylkill Banks. The best that Managing Director Richard Negrin could offer is that "people like the ducks."
As public servants, Negrin and his chief of staff, Brian Abernathy, must have appreciated the strong connection residents have to this park. The passionate statements people made about what the park means to them would be precisely what I would think government wants to hear from its citizens.
It is my hope Mayor Nutter will be advised that ignoring citizens who treasure Schuylkill Banks and want to preserve the integrity of the Schuylkill will result in alienation and apathy, and reinforce the perception that Philadelphia is all about politics, not the people.
Judy H. Heller
When stars implode, time stands still
The untimely death of Dr. Frank Baldino is a monumental loss for the region and the world ("Frank Baldino Jr.: 'Indomitable' in building his own firm, aiding others," Saturday). He leaves behind many who will mourn his passing for a long time to come.
Frank was one of too few men in the so-called Big Boys Club who promoted and supported women in substantial and meaningful ways. And because he was an out-of-the-box thinker and doer, he was receptive to and supportive of concepts that were off the beaten path.
A larger-than-life figure in all that he did, in all he believed in, cared about, and pursued with astonishing intellectual curiosity and vigor, he left us much too soon.
When a major star implodes in the universe, it leaves a black hole - the larger the star, the larger the black hole, which does not reflect the light of other stars and alters galactic pathways, suspending laws of physics, and moving these phenomena into quantum/multidimensional physics. Some quantum physicists believe that when a star implodes, leaving a large black hole in the universe, time stands still.
So it is with Frank Baldino - for those of us in his orbit, time stands still in his passing.
Donna Gentile O'Donnell
Growing Greener needs new funding
The new year is in sight and, fortunately, beautiful sections of the wooded Wissahickon and Fairmount Park's Belmont Plateau near my home are, too. I have lived in this area since I was an infant and keep fond memories of fall outings to these parks and longer trips to natural sites such as Valley Forge, where I could spend hours exploring the forests and fields of open grassland.
Unfortunately, the state's Growing Greener program, which has provided the necessary funding and resources for the past decade to protect these places, is about to run out of money. If we do not renew Growing Greener, we will soon be defenseless against the already rapid overdevelopment threatening Pennsylvania's parks, open spaces, and family farms.
We must therefore ensure that the new legislature revives Growing Greener, and that we all embrace the preservation of our natural surroundings in the year to come.
DRPA's board should be replaced
The Delaware River Port Authority is again raising tolls, forcing us to pay $5 to cross its bridges next year.
The DRPA board has also spent $500 million on economic development projects in 12 years, which added to the agency's total debt of $1.4 billion.
If being a DRPA board member were a real job, I believe they all would all be fired.
Can't we employ a management company to run the bridges and trains, and send the DRPA board to clean the dirty train stations in Center City?
Merit pay isn't what motivates teachers
As shown by a Vanderbilt University study, merit pay given to teachers doesn't improve student achievement through the competition that it creates.
What will work is cooperation and collaboration among teachers, better standards in teacher-preparation programs in colleges, improved administration from the superintendent down to school principals, higher standards, and challenging curricula.
Ruth Shapiro Friedman