The era of Norquist-ism

Grover Norquist has a list of 258 members of Congress who have signed his pledge to never raise taxes, and he claims that if they break this pledge they will anger their constituents ("Norquist: GOP will keep tax vow," Tuesday). This reminds me of Joe McCarthy, who had a list of suspected subversives in the 1950s, and was later censured by his Senate colleagues.

We need honest, thoughtful debate in Washington, not intimidation by lobbyists. Republican leaders need to step forward and work with Democrats to find a way to increase revenue and decrease expenses. Or will we suffer through an era of Norquist-ism?

Chris Nicholson, Philadelphia

Education a 24/7 job

In response to Jonathan Zimmerman's op-ed about the 30 minutes added to the school morning, I say, stop dithering about minutes ("Class time, not nap time," Wednesday). Until we, as a nation, realize that the education of our youngest citizens is a 24/7 job that is not limited to the classroom alone, and that we all have a responsibility to actively participate in their education, in and out of the classroom, then a half-hour here or there makes no difference whatsoever.

Diane Oesau, Cherry Hill

Students' health comes first

The editorial "School days are too short" (Nov. 23) said, "some Cherry Hill parents and students are unhappy about what the earlier hours will do to their schedules," but at the Nov. 19 school board meeting, only one parent raised this issue. The other speakers were concerned about the impact that waking up earlier would have on teenagers.

There have been many studies done showing that a later start time in school is greatly beneficial to the mental and physical health of students. It is no secret that exhaustion creates stress, which can lead to depression and accidents, and leave students sleeping at their desks.

If school boards are so interested in increasing classroom time to create more academic opportunities, then they have to make tough choices and put students' health first, while figuring out how to make it work with after-school activities. I appreciate the efforts of our school board, but this time they got it wrong.

Sharon Ritz, Cherry Hill

True leaders

I was in support of what Jamie Stiehm was saying in "Critical mass" (Nov. 26) until I read the sentence, "On the foreign policy front, making new enemies and waging more wars will be very low on their list," Implying that George W. Bush was just on a witchhunt after 9/11, or perhaps interested only in feeding the military-industrial complex, is tantamount to blaming him for the world situation, and more than a little shallow and naive.

I'm glad to see more women elected to the Senate who are stressing domestic issues, all of which I support, including marriage equality. But the quote represents the kind of rhetoric and thinking that is at the root of our present state, in which politics is polarized.

True leaders recognize that politics is not about just guns or just butter, but must always be about both.

John M. Baxter, Exton, jmbaxt@aol.com