ISSUE | VETERANS

Early sign-up rules should go national

Two years ago, then-U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) introduced a bill that should have been a no-brainer, but it died anyway. It would have given veterans the ability to register for college classes early. Veterans have limited time to complete courses, and priority registration would have given them the same privilege that athletes and some others have received for a long time.

Last year, Pennsylvania joined California, Florida, Tennessee, and Wisconsin as the only states to grant veterans the right to enroll early. On the federal level, I have written, e-mailed, and called U.S. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) - who continually says he supports veterans - the White House, and numerous others in Congress to no avail.

So many of us laugh off this gamesmanship in politics until it hits us squarely between the eyes. Were someone to reintroduce this bill, it could perhaps pass.

|Jim Ulinski, Phoenixville

ISSUE | WILL'S VIEW

Clear, insightful

It's always intelligent and commonsense journalism from George Will ("Tread lightly on benefits," March 13). He sees both sides of issues with clarity and knowledgeable insight.

|Kathleen Dickey, Moorestown

ISSUE | NUNS' TEACHING

Lasting impression

My husband and I are in our 70s, and we were blessed to be taught by Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns ("Recalling the tough and good 'Nuns of St. Alice,' " March 16). He went to St. Edmund's in South Philly, and I went to St. Dominic's in the Holmesburg section.

I never miss an opportunity to salute and brag about the education I received from the nuns. I still remember how to diagram a sentence. The nuns were always dedicated to teaching us our catechism and living our faith.

I wanted to be a nun before I met my husband at a Father Judge basketball game when he was a senior, transplanted from Southeast Catholic to Judge in the Northeast. He changed my mind. That was 58 years ago. God always has a plan.

|Joanne Gargani, Philadelphia

ISSUE | POTHOLES

Pa. post-winter road conditions a disgrace

Last week, I had to travel to West Chester from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Everything was fine through Maryland and Delaware - until I crossed into Pennsylvania on Route 202 ("Pothole plague," March 15). In all of my many years of driving, I have never seen a major highway in such bad shape.

Every mile between Delaware and West Chester was an obstacle course, and several deep potholes were simply unavoidable, causing my car to bottom out. I love visiting Pennsylvania, but not at the expense of my vehicle. It has been just as cold in Maryland and Delaware, yet the pothole problem there is almost nonexistent.

|Kim Taylor, East New Market, Md.

ISSUE | UTILITIES

Envisioning a gas works that earns its keep

Clearly, there have been several interesting proposals offered to City Council for what becomes of the Philadelphia Gas Works ("City gets options for PGW," March 14). One proposal no one has considered is a tariff on natural gas that's pumped through the city on its way to the liquefied natural gas terminal at Port Richmond. That alone could provide millions in much-needed revenue for a cash-strapped PGW, avoiding a necessity to sell the utility at all.

|Scott Cameron, Philadelphia, scottcameronart@comcast.com

ISSUE | AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Keeping kids active, healthy, and safe

More than 10 million kids nationwide - and 320,000 in Pennsylvania - attend after-school programs. A study from the Afterschool Alliance highlights critical but overlooked benefits: They're helping kids eat healthy and be active, and offering the healthy choices that parents demand.

According to Kids on the Move, the great majority of Pennsylvania parents with children in after-school programs say they offer healthy snacks, meals, and beverages. Likewise, most say their children's program offers opportunities for physical activity.

After-school, before-school, and summer learning programs support kids, parents, and communities in many other important ways: They keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working parents keep their jobs.

In Pennsylvania, 810,000 kids would participate if an after-school program were available. We need to invest more in these programs so they can serve more students and do even more to instill healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

|Kacy Conley, Pennsylvania Afterschool Youth Development Network, Camp Hill

ISSUE | INBRED POLITICS

Shift to nonpartisan voting could be antidote

Given the arrests of Democratic state representatives accused of taking bribes ("Intolerable tolerance," March 13), isn't their behavior just the ultimate extension of regulations carefully enshrined by the two major parties, which keep independents out, allow the election of City Council at-large members by fiat, endorse campaign-finance regulations that enable special-interest groups to crown the next mayor, and permit blazing billboards on hallowed ground?

|Norma Van Dyke, Philadelphia