ISSUE | LESSONS

Bensalem knows

The school district's gifted program, which a parent said attracted her to Bensalem, should be a priority for all communities, so districts retain top students and high home values ("A lively, diverse, convenient community," March 15). On the state level, the aim should be to separate funding for gifted education from special education, and to require that all educators take six college credits in strategies for serving gifted students.

|Rose Jacobs, former president, Bensalem Association Dedicated to Gifted Education, Trevose, Rose4kids@verizon.net

Phila. should learn

With so many books and more in School District storage, I'm even more convinced that the major problems in the schools could be reduced by an administration that looks at what it can do instead of crying for more money ("Mountains of books draw many reactions," March 19).

I can't believe that a district spokesman said the books were no good because they were from a previous administration. As noted, math, science, and literature don't change. Why should new methods of teaching and textbooks be required yearly?

|Richard Tustin, Philadelphia

ISSUE | TCHOTCHKES

Go figure

If another mayor of a small town were black, and he had little white figurines depicting whites in questionable and demeaning forms on display in a public facility, the outrage would be unprecedented ("A figure of concern," March 20).

What is Evesham Township Mayor Randy Brown thinking, and why are his town's citizens - along with the rest of us - being exposed to it?

|Dennis Fisher, Broomall

ISSUE | TRADE DEAL

Why labor lukewarm

A NAFTA-on-steroids trade deal will be good for the middle class if middle class means the mid-level investor class and capitalists ("For the middle class, trade issues are crucial," March 20).

|Don DeMarco, Philadelphia, Donald.demarco@verizon.net

ISSUE | CAREERS FOR WOMEN

Skilled hands in the automotive service bay

In addition to the fact that women are making an imprint on the auto industry as the engineers behind the machines, worth noting is the growing demand for women making strides under the hood - as automotive technicians ("Women engineers impact auto industry," March 15). As a provider of postsecondary education for professional automotive and diesel technicians, our campus is seeing women now making up the fastest-growing enrollment group. And why not? With women influencing 80 percent of car-buying decisions, it makes sense that they are increasingly taking advantage of the rewarding career opportunities to service vehicles.

Especially as STEM-focused careers take more precedence in the job market, it's important to expose young women to the wide array of high-tech career paths available, in addition to the postsecondary education options that provide them with the hands-on experience necessary for pursuing such successful, in-demand careers.

|Bob Kessler, campus president, Universal Technical Institute, Exton

ISSUE | GRAVE CONCERNS

Hoping for tidier cemetery management

It has been nearly a year since StoneMor Partners agreed to make an initial payment of $53 million to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to lease and operate 13 Catholic cemeteries in the region. On a recent visit to SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Springfield, where many Catholics from the Philadephia area are buried, I was shocked at the cemetery's condition.

I have family members buried there and have visited regularly over the past 23 years, yet it seems no one really is caring for the place. With Palm Sunday around the corner, graves were still covered with leaves, Christmas blankets, and trash. Those in charge blame sinkholes, debris, and the like on the weather. Yes, the winter was cold, but we had little snow, and I think people who have loved ones buried there should be concerned.

|Betty Hannigan, Springfield

ISSUE | FUTURE OF CIVIC SPACES

Gather round with the Park Conservancy

The Fairmount Park Conservancy just made an exciting announcement regarding the future of public space in Philadelphia with the "Re-Imagining the Civic Commons" initiative, an $11 million investment by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation ("Green infusion," March 18). Above all, it promises to foster unprecedented collaboration among the city's leading public-space organizations.

Through this initiative, the conservancy will convene a "Civic Commons Collective," a pioneering effort bringing together the project partners and leveraging our individual strengths, resources, and knowledge in a collaborative learning laboratory that will make the collective greater than the sum of its parts. This effort promises to test the value of civic assets in the social and economic integration of cities and to transform Philadelphia into an epicenter for thought leaders exploring the impact of civic space on civic life.

|Kathryn Ott Lovell, executive director, Fairmount Park Conservancy, kottlovell@fairmountparkconservancy.org