ISSUE | MOSQUE ATTACK
Sisters and brothers
It was with profound sorrow that I read of the desecration of the sacred mosque of the Al Aqsa Islamic Society by a cowardly and ignorant person last week ("Pig's head left at N. Phila. mosque," Tuesday).
I have attended interfaith worship services and been joyfully received as a guest at the breaking of the Ramadan fast there. I have personally experienced these folks to be among the best of humankind. Our world and city would be diminished were they not among us. It is our duty and our obligation to protect them and their sisters and brothers in the Muslim community.
The Pledge of Allegiance promises "liberty and justice for all," and the national anthem calls America "the land of the free and the home of the brave." We must keep these ideals in mind and be better citizens in the face of violence that seeks to deprive us of the values we hold most dear.
Marguerite Sexton, Cheltenham Area Multifaith Council, Jenkintown, email@example.com
ISSUE | NUTTER VS. TRUMP
Still on the clock
I was surprised to read that Mayor Nutter said he would ban Donald Trump from Philadelphia if he could ("Trump backlash on Muslim ban," Wednesday). The mayor should deal with the city's problems until the end of his term. With bedlam in the schools, gunshots on the streets, and deep poverty in the city, he has enough on his plate. He will have time enough to voice his opinion on the state of the country in January.
Arline Winkler, Wyncote
Let's build a wall
Now Mayor Nutter is going to ban Donald Trump from Philadelphia ("Trump backlash on Muslim ban," Wednesday)? How absurd is that? Perhaps it is time for all of us to take a deep breath and get off the political-correctness bandwagon.
Ban the bully if we do not agree with his or her rhetoric seems to be the new mantra. In universities all over the country, students are trying to rewrite history because it is offensive to their sensibilities. In fact, some ideas are so terrifying that they are demanding "safe spaces" protected from - what? Dialogue? From actually understanding why people think differently?
Barbara K. Clement, Berwyn
ISSUE | TEMPLE STADIUM
Eagles should take the hit
Mayor-elect Jim Kenney and residents are correct to resist the Temple University administration and board's plan to build an expensive new football stadium in North Philadelphia. Kenney has proposed that Temple continue to play its games at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles ("Kenney: Temple needs better deal at the Linc," Thursday).
Temple is a public university, and Pennsylvania taxpayers covered half of the $512 million cost of building Lincoln Financial Field. When the stadium opened in 2003, the franchise was worth about $617 million. Today its value is estimated at $2.4 billion.
Given the fourfold increase in franchise value and the $256 million public investment, it's hard to understand why the public and Temple haven't received their share of the wealth. Instead, Temple has reportedly been paying about $1 million a year to rent the stadium for six home games. It seems that the public university should be allowed free use of Lincoln Financial Field. In addition, the city and state could make efforts to recoup more of the public investment, perhaps by gaining a share of concession and parking receipts.
Landis W. Doner, Wyndmoor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bigger than a boathouse
So Temple had a big-time, winning football season, and now it wants to build a big-time, $100 million stadium in a residential neighborhood ("Kenney: Temple needs better deal at the Linc," Thursday). Remember when, just a couple of years ago, Temple claimed it was so short of money that numerous "minor" sports for men and women would have to be discontinued? In fact, the university claimed that rowing had to be cut because there was no money to renovate its boathouse. Ah, but football - that's another story!
Lee M. Cassidy, Haverford
ISSUE | CITY SCHOOLS
Hite deserves extension
Over the course of my 38 years as a teacher and administrator in the Philadelphia School District, I have served under a total of 12 interim and permanent superintendents. That's an average of one new superintendent every three years.
Each new leader brought significant changes. Over the years, we've tried private management, accountability measures, Renaissance schools, Promise Academies, charter expansion, and more. While well-intentioned, the constant introduction of new models created a sense of churn throughout the system.
Leadership continuity is one of the biggest problems in urban education from the classroom to the superintendent. While the nation's average urban superintendent tenure increased from 2.3 years in 1999 to 3.8 years in 2014, it is still too short to make meaningful progress.
In nearly four years as superintendent, William R. Hite Jr. has demonstrated strong leadership in an extraordinarily difficult time. When he arrived in 2012, the district faced a projected shortfall of $228 million, growing fixed costs, and declining revenues. Today he has secured more than $250 million in recurring revenues and has positioned the district to weather six months without a state budget.
Hite is also working tirelessly on a strategic vision, Action Plan 3.0, designed to build on our strengths, focus on equity, and give all students access to a great school close to where they live.
With just 18 months remaining in the superintendent's contract, the School Reform Commission will vote on an extension Thursday. This is a critical moment for Philadelphia's schools, which over the last decade have had six superintendents. It is important to act now.
Marjorie G. Neff, chairwoman, School Reform Commission, Philadelphia