Regarding the July 29 article "How to keep those kids in class? Pay them.": Paying kids to attend school, as Chelsea High School in Massachusetts has decided to do, will probably result in an increase in student numbers. But so what? The poor quality of education that these additional students will receive at public schools like CHS will have little or no effect - or even an adverse effect - on their lives. Staying in school will neither allow them to develop into ethical, creative human beings, nor lead to better opportunities.
If we really want to improve the American educational system, we must first start by bettering the quality of education offered by our schools (which in the long run will also increase student attendance).
The government must hold our schools to higher standards; talented, committed, and inspiring teachers must be recruited and paid higher salaries; and schools must stop spending the precious money they have on stop-gap solutions like paying kids to attend schools.
Jefferson City, Mo.
I suggest the government give tax deductions to parents of children who not only have good attendance, but maintain passing grades. Parents have to take responsibility for their children. Leaving them out of the equation is just another way to make someone else responsible. As a high school teacher, I believe schools have enough to do without depleting their scarce reserves to pay children to do what they're supposed to do.
The Aug. 3 article "Spendthrift nation" pointed out a key problem in the current economy with serious long-term implications. It was important that the article pointed out that the data do not reflect capital gains; but for a more accurate picture, the article also should have mentioned that the average American family has over $8,000 in credit-card debt.
The people who are most affected by a high-debt, low-savings ratio are probably not the same people who will be benefiting from capital gains. While addressing this issue may not be politically popular, it needs to be done before the problem becomes insurmountable.
I don't believe that the author of this article considers what many young families are facing in terms of living expenses. Most of us have student loans to repay, car payments, car insurance payments, health insurance copayments, rent or mortgage payments, property taxes and insurance, and ever-increasing utility and water bills, not to mention federal, state, and local taxes as well as Social Security - and we have not even mentioned groceries, clothing, and medical-dental costs not covered by insurance, day care, children's school costs.... Just where is the money for savings supposed to come from?
San Jose, Calif.
I'm grateful to have happened upon the small piece in the July 28 edition, "In Iraq, a grim job in the service of Allah." Thank you for this touching story of Sheikh Sudani, who gathers the unclaimed bodies of those "killed by bombs and bullets in Baghdad."
In what seems to be an impossibly polarized world, it's inspiring to learn of those who can see beyond the things that divide us. The humble Sudani acts on his belief that we all deserve dignity - even the dead - regardless of faith, allegiance, or even grievous sins. I will keep him in my prayers as he makes his rounds to bury Sunni and Shiite, terrorist and victim.
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