Letters to the editor
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Will our children's education suffer more?
With state revenue far less than expected ("State Revenue Far Below Estimates," Jan. 3), I am frightened for the future of our children.
Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett cut millions from state funding for public schools and I fear that now he will cut even more next year. As the parent of children who attend Pittsburgh Public Schools, I have seen firsthand the results of these budget cuts. At our school, those children most at risk of failing -- children who are low income and/or in need of special education -- no longer get the important educational services they did in 2010, such as after-school and Saturday math and literacy tutoring.
Although the $41.3 million in Race to the Top money recently awarded to Pennsylvania by the federal government ("Pa. in Line for Federal Race to Top Funding," Dec. 24) will bring about much-needed changes in teacher and principal evaluation systems, such funds will not (and cannot) be used to make up for the teachers, librarians, tutors and essential programs that have been cut in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and other districts as a result of Mr. Corbett's cuts.
When students are receiving fewer academic support services and class sizes are rising dramatically, I doubt that the new teacher evaluation system will have much of a positive effect on K-12 education in Pennsylvania.
And if the state cuts more funding for education, Pennsylvania children will find themselves in a race to the bottom of a world economy in which a strong educational foundation is the key to success.
Regarding "Aide Sends Memo Offering Praise for Corbett" (Jan. 3): So comforting to know that our tax dollars are hard at work in the Harrisburg office of Gov. Tom Corbett. After all, how many days did Mr. Corbett's deputy chief of staff Luke Bernstein take to compose his four-page memo listing all the first-year "accomplishments" of his boss?
Isn't that sort of stuff considered quasi-campaign work while on the job?
Meanwhile, our roads and bridges continue to crumble at an astonishing pace while the state projects at least a $500 million shortfall in revenues this year. Guess all that fiscal austerity business is paying off, Mr. Bernstein? How about composing a memo about working hard at the taxpayer-funded "job" you luckily enjoy while hundreds of dedicated teachers are now out of work?
Mr. Bernstein owes the good folks of Pennsylvania an apology for wasting our time and tax dollars.
Won't vote for him
Robert Perloff ("Santorum's MBA," Dec. 29 letters) reminds us that Rick Santorum got an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. However, he neglected to nudge our memories regarding another fact about our "senator from Pennsylvania."
As a longtime Pittsburgh resident, I remember well Mr. Santorum's hypocrisy which was all over the papers and probably contributed to his downfall in his last Senate race. I, like many other disgusted people, refused to vote for him.
Doesn't anyone recall that Mr. Morality was serving as the senator from Pennsylvania at the same time he was actually living with his family of six kids at the time (seven now) in Virginia? How could anyone believe that his family really lived in the small house in Penn Hills that he claimed to be his residence? And he charged the Penn Hills School District to send five of his kids to cyberschool.
In the unlikely event that the "senator from Pennsylvania/Virginia" doesn't flame out and becomes the Republican nominee for president, I would be forced to vote for Barack Obama in spite of being a lifelong Republican!
In one of the recent Republican debates, Ron Paul, a medical doctor, fielded a question about a hypothetical patient suffering from some hypothetical life-threatening and costly condition. The patient in question didn't bother to get medical coverage.
The question was whether the taxpayers should foot the bill for this person's treatment. The good doctor responded by saying that since this "person" hadn't gotten coverage, he or she had made their decision. The mediator asked if this meant the person should die, and some of the audience responded with cheers, one person yelling out, "Yes!"
Dr. Paul did nothing to dissuade the crowd. It appears to me that the "death panels" have arrived.
The right to live
It is the most polarizing of all social political topics. The reason: Because it truly is a matter of life and death. Most often, discourse leaps straight to raised tempers, arguments and even fights. What is this spoken yet unspoken conversation? Yes, it is abortion.
Originally, abortion was a human rights issue until the pro-choice movement realized and then admitted, to themselves, that a fetus actually is a living, preborn, human baby. Culturally, they could not ignore or deny proof of this through advances in medical science. Then, immediately, their platform went from a "human rights" to a "woman's right to choose" issue -- a woman's right to choose to terminate the life of her preborn child.
We can go around, around, around, and then around again and still come up with the same conclusion every time. A woman does have the right to choose what happens to her body. Yes ... her body. And no law should ever take this right away from her. But the life that she is carrying also has a right, a right to live.
We as a society have to stand up for the sanctity of all life and that must include those of our youngest members. Please, bring the topic of discussion on abortion back to where it belongs. Go ahead, it's OK to talk about it, but please listen also.
Fellow county residents who voted with me for the Allegheny County Democrats should not be surprised at the immediate hike in property tax following the election.
I've learned that the last three letters in the name of their party, DemocRAT, stand for "Raise Allegheny Taxes." By the way, I am a registered independent voter.
JOHN LENKEY III
The packed 28X is bedlam just waiting to happen
My wife and I spent a few days traveling during the New Year holiday. Car, bus, plane and train were our modes. At one location we rode a bus that carried so many luggage-laden riders that every seat and the aisle were stuffed with passengers and suitcases. The bus driver took on more riders along the way, however, creating an increasingly unsafe situation in which, if there had been a need to evacuate the bus, bedlam would have ruled.
Small Mexican town? No, the scene of our ride from hell was Pittsburgh. But it might as well have been a Third World country in which we were being bused without concern for safety. This is not the first time I've felt trapped on the Port Authority's 28X, and it causes me to wonder how this wonderful city can continue to put up with such ineffective public transportation to and from the airport.
Three solutions to the problem are obvious. First, provide buses that handle luggage as well as passengers. Does the Port Authority know that riders on its airport bus, the 28X, are likely to carry suitcases? Apparently not. Second, provide a real express service to and from the airport. Robinson Town Centre should not be on the itinerary. Third, increase the frequency of buses so that unsafe overcrowding does not occur.
I would have welcomed one additional passenger on our ride: a representative of the National Transportation Safety Board. Maybe next time.
First Published January 6, 2012 12:00 am