The first teachers

A recent Inquirer article noted that research shows that "harsh parenting ... unleashes so-called toxic stress in children" ("Harsh parenting, more common among poor, impairs kids' brain growth," Dec. 11). Early academic success begins with a safe, caring, high-quality learning environment - both in school and at home. However, for young children who face significant challenges at home, an impact often manifests itself in behavioral and developmental issues in the classroom.

Parents are their children's first teachers, so we must remember to nurture the nurturers - those who have the most profound impact on our children. By providing support, training, and resources to parents, mental health clinicians, family professionals, and early-childhood educators, we can help address behavioral concerns - especially in those children who have experienced trauma from poverty, hunger, abuse, or exposure to violence - to ensure school readiness and success. Through informed training and parenting education, we can arrive at an improved, whole-child approach.

We know we can't undo some of the difficult life events that many young children have already experienced. But we can improve the lives of children in need and set them on the path to academic success.

Jill Michal, president and chief executive officer, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

Corbettcare outrage

Gov. Corbett is advocating an additional charge for those covered under Obamacare. So now that Obamacare has truly begun working, another Republican wants to put his mark on it. The same guy who wouldn't tax the gas industry is more than willing to charge the poor more for health insurance.

Dennis Fisher, Broomall

Robin Hood redux

Every piece of data that exists shows that the federal government's fiscal problem is a revenue problem. Eliminating the carried-interest tax break would be an obvious step toward fiscal responsibility.

As a conservative, I support reducing wasteful spending, but that isn't what Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and the rest of his party are after. They support taking from the poor and giving to the rich, the carried-interest break being an egregious example of their "reverse Robin Hood" mentality.

Donald W. Hiorth, Dingmans Ferry

Not so bipartisan

Ironically, in an editorial celebrating the bipartisan cooperation that led to the budget deal, The Inquirer Editorial Board could not hide its disdain for those who do not share its opinions ("Bipartisanship finally prevails," Dec. 19). Republicans, especially the tea-party movement, came in for vitriol. The editorial referred to "tea-steeped lawmakers" and the "moneybags political groups that finance their campaigns."

Apparently, no one who wants to stop irresponsible government spending is honorable in the board's eyes.

Anthony P. Schiavo, Lafayette Hill,

Tidings of joy

Thank you so much for the wonderful article on Jack and Pat Lees' wedding that was featured in The Inquirer on Christmas ("Love: Pat Pierson & Jack Lees"). Their story was the perfect choice to highlight in today's world, where values and religion often get convoluted to meet young, individualistic desires. What a wonderful gift your article was to all of us on this holy day, one that reminds us of what is really important in our own lives - love, patience, kindness, friendship, and neighborly "peace be with you."

Marcia Radbill, Philadelphia