Hamels deal a boost for the city

No one should cry over the contract given to Cole Hamels ("Hamels affirms his love for Philly," Thursday). There is no better advertisement about what a great city we are than to have highly visible people want to stay or come here.

Haven't we suffered through being labeled the most unfriendly, ugly, or poorly dressed city long enough in the eyes of America? We threw snowballs at Santa! To have Cole Hamels want to stay and to have Cliff Lee accept less money to return here has immense value to our whole region. These men are national figures.

I believe anything positive about us has the potential to bring other undecided people here. Maybe some job-creating sports enthusiasts will take notice.

Gerald Skobinsky, Elkins Park



Penn State experiment works

There is a certain amount of irony in Signe Wilkinson's cartoon suggesting that Penn State football players will now be able to concentrate on academics (Wednesday). In reality, Penn State football players have had an 80 percent graduation rate, with no disparity between black and white players. This is the best among major college football programs, much better than the average graduation rate for incoming college students as whole, and further proof that coach Joe Paterno's grand experiment of mixing excellence in both the classroom and the playing field was a success.

Lee Fiederer, Elkins Park



Reconsider charter schools

Once again we read of the corruption in the management of charter schools ("Charter-school leader and 4 aides indicted," Wednesday). This should cause us to ponder the use of the corporate model for running our schools.

While corruption certainly exists in government, such a system has many more checks and oversight agencies to keep finances under control. The corporate model serves to make CEOs wealthy and stockholders rich. That is not the educational model we should emulate.

School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos and his colleagues should take their heads out of the sand and realize that studies show charters are no more effective than district-run schools. However, they are a lot more costly, with obscene amounts of money benefiting the management and not the students.

Gloria Finkle, Philadelphia, gfinkle@comcast.net



Examining family-planning efforts

I was confounded by Robert W. Patterson's assertion that the Title X federal family-planning program is responsible for the increased rate of children born outside of marriage ("Broken homes are creating an unhealthy U.S.," July 22). Conversely, he asserts that the "federal birth control push" is responsible for the reduction of birthrates. In reality, since its inception in 1972, Title X has enabled millions of low-income, uninsured men and women to thoughtfully and responsibly plan whether and when to have a child.

Patterson must be horrified by the next major landmark in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. On Aug. 1, the women's preventive health services benefit goes into effect. It will provide insurance coverage of essential women's health services, including contraception, without co-pays.

Patterson concludes that "America would suffer no health-care crisis if not for the sexual revolution." He would be better served by critically examining decades of punitive social policy and rhetoric that look to dictate reproductive health choices to the point of childbirth, abandoning poor children and their families thereafter.

Melissa Weiler Gerber, executive director, Family Planning Council, Philadelphia, melissa@familyplanning.org