With a hand, dressed for success
Just because we see a man wearing a suit doesn't mean that he has a job, a place to live, a change of clothes, or money in his pockets. We met many like this at St. John's Hospice in Center City, while serving lunch recently. They are among the many homeless in a country that was founded on the proposition that all men are created equal. Yet there are haves and have-nots, so this is not the America that our forefathers created. People still go hungry in the City of Brotherly Love - in warm weather as well as in winter.
As seventh-grade students, though, we have a different hope. We hope to be our brother's keeper. We need to walk in another's shoes. So we propose that everyone dedicate one day to help someone less fortunate. If we can make this happen, then we can live up to the founders' vision of equality for all.
Ronan Egan, Rose Leonard, Aileen Mansfield, and Thomas Woolley, Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, Philadelphia
Commentator Barbara Baals von Franzke's account of her disabled daughter's confirmation was lovely and touching ("A true act of confirmation," May 12). It is distressing, though, that this is still considered a remarkable event 12 years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
My own daughter has multiple profound disabilities due to severe cerebral palsy, but she became a bat mitzvah in 2002 using an augmentative communication device. I am proud to say that, in the ensuing years, that has become commonplace at my synagogue, Old York Road Temple-Beth Am. Indeed, it is no longer unusual for a child like my daughter or Von Franzke's daughter to become a bar or bat mitzvah at synagogues throughout the Philadelphia region.
Today, there is no reason for any child, no matter the nature or extent of a disability, to be left out of Jewish education and synagogue life.
Joanne Kleiner Levin, Rydal
From Philly burbs to Gettysburg
Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, from a farming family in Montgomeryville, commanded the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, which repulsed Pickett's Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. While not from the city, Hancock could have been mentioned in recent news coverage on Philadelphia's vital support role in the battle. A marker on Route 309 south of Dekalb Pike is near the site of the Hancock farm and the small school where Hancock taught.
Pete Sigmund, Ambler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Acclaimed Central also at risk
Despite its unquestioned success, Central High, like all public schools in Philadelphia, is in a precarious position. Years of budget cuts have taken a toll on its dedicated staff, physical plant, and operations. For next year, the School District has presented what has been called a doomsday budget that would result in Central having no money for assistant principals, supplies, books, counselors, nurses, the arts, and sports - indeed, all that would be left in the school would be a principal and a reduced group of teachers, and 2,400 children. This budget would reduce an institution with a proud 150-year history of excellence and service to little more than a place to warehouse children. So we implore those in power to lay aside partisan differences, and to work together to provide needed funds and devise an equitable, long-term solution to the structural funding problems in education.
Lisa Kallas and Emily Adeshigbin, co-presidents; Rebecca Baehr, email@example.com, Central High Home and School Association
Benghazi, IRS, AP scandal slight
It amazes and confuses me that there are few letters published about the scandals unearthed almost daily having to do with President Obama's administration. With Benghazi still in the mix, as well as the IRS and Associated Press scandals, you're telling me no one is writing? All we seem to get from The Inquirer are local events such as praise for the prison dog article (which was wonderful), and more well-deserved praise for Angelina Jolie's decision for breast removal. Thank goodness for the Wall Street Journal. The other day, I couldn't get to the op-ed pages of the Journal fast enough to get opinions about things that really matter. Could it be that The Inquirer is continuing to shield this president from anything negative? If so, that is truly shameful.
Patricia Perrone, Swarthmore
Limited view of IRS misdeeds
The more aggressive Obama apologists take the position that there is an IRS scandal, but only in that it hasn't been even tougher on tea-party types over their nonprofit status. While commentator Michael Smerconish at least recognizes that there is a real problem that can't be brazened out like that, he suggests that what's required instead is a little subtlety and misdirection ("At the IRS, wrong, but maybe explainable," May 19).
Smerconish says that what the IRS did was wrong. But that's the easy part. More difficult is figuring out why - except that he has that nailed down, too. It was just a couple of overworked back-office guys taking the easy way out. Yet if the federal government is so large now that our rights are endangered by even an innocuous mistake, what will happen when it isn't a mistake, but a deliberate exercise of power by a self-righteous administration to meet its own political ends? But maybe Smerconish is counting on always being with those who hold the whip hand.
Daniel Mercer, Pennsauken