As an alumnus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, I would like to set the record straight for Kyle Bird ("Higher-ed Cuts," July 8 letters).
While all institutions of higher education need more funding, it is first and foremost the responsibility of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide sufficient funding for its own 14 completely owned and operated state universities. These institutions have existed for too long in the shadows of the public-assisted universities. Recently, IUP has been receiving less than 40 percent of its total funding from the commonwealth. If it weren't for its own endowment funds and support from alumni, the community, friends of IUP and businesses, I am not certain how IUP would have been able to provide quality programs and opportunities to its nearly 15,000 students.
Mr. Bird refers to institutions such as IUP as "less-prestigious institutions." If these universities had been receiving the funding they needed and deserved over many decades, maybe they would now have the prestige that many of them demand. I doubt that Mr. Bird did any research into the quality of the programs offered by the state universities.
Gov. Ed Rendell is now doing what other governors before him should have done. The true state universities must have priority in receiving funding.
Considered the "flagship university" of the 14 state universities, IUP deserves more than 40 percent funding to continue hiring outstanding professors and offering top-quality programs at an affordable cost.
Thank you, Gov. Rendell, for supporting Pennsylvania's state-owned universities and for seeing the injustice in higher education funding that has existed for many years.
Just not getting it
Joe Torsella, say it isn't so! The July 10 article "State Scaling Back Exam Required to Graduate" includes this comment from Mr. Torsella, the chairman of the state board of education: Those who fail an individual test twice, even after receiving extra help, could instead do a project to demonstrate mastery over the subject.
So far, so good. But with his educational degrees in economics and history, I question whether he has the good judgment to be the chairman of the board of education, which is the regulatory authority for all entities in Pennsylvania including 500 public school districts and 14 state universities. I know he is a good civic leader, but when he says that completion of a college application, for example (referring to a project to demonstrate mastery over the subject) could fulfill a project requirement, he is way off base! Would he want any of his four children to fill out an application for college who fail an individual test twice, even after receiving extra help?
He doesn't get it ... they are not prepared for college and he would have them fill out a college application as a "project"? Maybe he could fall back on one of his former careers as "Joseph M. Torsella: Magic for All Occasions" and pull the rabbit out of his hat!
ELLA BOOTH GIBSON
The writer is the head emeritus of The University School, the Youth Learning Center and Shady Lane School.
Regarding David Wassel's June 21 Next Page article ("For a New Allegheny County: 26 School Districts, 26 Municipalities"): I think he is on the right track, but his recommendations don't go far enough.
I would like to see the creation of the "Allegheny County School Region" made up of five districts: Allegheny County North, South, East, West and Central, each with approximately the same number of students.
Each district would host a magnet high school which any student in the county could attend, based on grades and entrance exam scores. For example, the Allegheny South District could host the Allegheny County High School of Science, the East could host the High School of Art & Design, others could be the High School of Computer Technology, or the High School of Business Management and Finance, or the High School of Engineering. The exact types would be decided by the school region.
These specialized high schools would guarantee our best and brightest students a head start in their college education.
These specialized high schools would be located close to the center of the county to be more accessible to the students from throughout the county who would attend.
Only the best and brightest teachers would be assigned to these elite schools, whose eventual reputation throughout the state and the country would demand no less than the best.
I read with amusement Rep. David Levdansky's July 9 letter ("Pa. Must Change Its Ways on Campaign Finance"). Apparently Rep. Levdansky is of the philosophy "Do as I say, not as I do." One only needs to look at his contributions from the final days of the campaign last year to note the $10,000 donation he received from Rendell for Governor or the $8,000 he received from Friends of Dan Onorato.
Rep. Levdansky also claims, "Donating large amounts of money to political candidates has nothing to do with freedom of speech and everything to do with influencing the outcome of an election or the legislative process." Yet, once again, one need only to review his campaign finance reports to see the numerous donations he received that are over the thresholds that he now supports. Last year, he obviously didn't have a problem accepting donations from the "wealthy" people he now despises.
If Rep. Levdansky is such a strong believer in campaign finance reform, he would have voluntarily practiced what he now preaches. Mr. Levdansky is just another politician trying to the pull the wool over our eyes. Unfortunately, he has been doing this for more than two decades.
The writer ran as the Republican candidate in 2008 against Rep. Levdansky for the 39th District House seat.
As a criminal justice professional for more than 35 years, I read with interest the July 13 article about new U.S. attorneys ("Process Starting for Selection of State's New U.S. Attorneys"). The present U.S. attorney, Mary Beth Buchanan, was a star in the Bush administration and a key figure in the most politicized justice department in U.S. history.
What will we ever do without her? She tried to keep us safe from the likes of Cyril Wecht and Tommy Chong.
Applies to others
I would like to publicly compliment President Barack Obama on his speech to the Ghanaian Parliament, in which he spoke about the need for good governance ("Obama Shares African Vision," July 12). Now if he would only give the same speech to the U.S. House and Senate and to the people of the District of Columbia and the states of Illinois, California and Pennsylvania.
Voters, close the door on this orgy of incompetence
As a conservative, I shared the views held by many of my like-minded friends during the previous election cycle. The demise of the Republican Party was gleefully reported by our liberal puppet mass media and swallowed up by the recently lobotomized.
The GOP didn't die. It was sucked into the Democratic Party in an orgy of greed and incompetence. The differences between the two parties became a shade, not a color. Voting for a Republican became voting Democrat-lite. The principles of honesty and self-determination were made meaningless by politicians who are more than willing to feast off of the carcass of an American public willing to believe not only in the "free lunch" but in the right to steal my lunch.
Ask your congressman or senator to defend his pork projects. The answer is always the same: "If I don't take it, someone else will." It's like a Brink's truck driving down I-79 with the back door open and money flying out. If you don't stop and take the money, someone else will. It doesn't occur to any politician to shut the door, especially considering they are the ones who unlocked it. It's not their money to take, and it sure as hell isn't Brink's money.
It's my money in that truck. I want a driver I can trust. That person isn't in Washington, D.C. I don't know who that person is, but I know I can help get rid of the drivers steering that truck with the back door open. Four hundred and thirty-five congressmen and at least 30 senators have their driver's licenses up for renewal next year.
Let's make the roads safe again. Get rid of 'em all -- every one.