After reading Amy Quinn's essay [News, Citizen Mom, "Back to School ... in the Suburbs," Sept. 4, 2008], the words of Yogi Berra come to mind: "It's déjà vu all over again." We sent our first child to a Philadelphia public school 23 years ago. We did so with some trepidation but when the sky did not fall in, our two younger children joined their sister. They are now all college graduates — one with a degree in law. They believe, as we did then, that while the schools were not perfect, the lessons learned about life and those who live it side by side with you were invaluable and continue to serve them well today.
I recognize and understand the inadequacies that exist in many of the city schools. I only wonder why those who choose not to use Philadelphia public schools often need to rationalize their decisions on the backs of families who choose a different path.
Throwing phrases around like "persistently dangerous," a designation referring to 20 out of 270 schools in the district, is inflammatory and refers to a small number of schools. Those schools' challenges must be addressed and overcome but shouldn't be used to paint such a bleak picture of a whole system with more than its share of hardworking teachers, concerned parents and children ready to learn. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a teacher in the Philadelphia school system.)
I suggest Ms. Quinn do a little research before she writes another slanted, innuendo-laced, self-serving report on education in Philadelphia.
I am responding to Diane Fiske's article on Fairmount Park with a slightly different perspective [News, "More-Public Park," Sept. 11, 2008]. I am a member of the Cobb's Creek West Community Association, which represents residents who live along Fairmount Park's Cobb's Creek section in Upper Darby, just west of Philadelphia. Our association was actually formed in large part to respond to the deteriorating conditions in the park that were a threat to residents' safety.
For several years the Fairmount Park Commission has cut back on funds for the Cobb's Creek section of the park and allowed the growth of invasive species, neglected to remove fallen trees and infrequently mowed grass. After a cleanup organized by area residents in April, with support from the very small, overworked Fairmount Park crew in Cobb's Creek Park, the residents formed the association and also organized three cleanups. Fairmount Park crews provided support by removing brush cut by residents.
We were also able to meet with Mark Focht and are finally seeing some results. We are looking forward to more of this kind of cooperation.
However, if the parks under Fairmount's jurisdiction are turned over to Philadelphia's Recreation Department, this could all change — and not necessarily for the better. There seems to be a long-standing jurisdictional issue over the west side of Cobb's Creek which extends from Upper Darby into Darby and beyond. Is it the jurisdiction of Delaware County or Philadelphia County? Officials on both sides don't seem to agree and this leaves residents of neighboring townships in the middle.
We have been able to get some work done because at this point all agree that this section of the park is Fairmount Park's responsibility. I have to support Mark Focht's position on this one.
Cobb's Creek West Community Association
In last week's preview of "I'll Eat All of You: Sendak and Food" [Agenda, Just Do It, Andrew Thompson, Sept. 11, 2008], the line "interviews Sendak gave at the end of his life" implies that the legendary children's author is no longer with us. Maurice Sendak celebrated his 80th birthday in June and is, by all accounts, very much alive. City Paper regrets the error.