Pursue excellence,

•ot mere equality

Regarding the charter schools and school-choice issues:

Do we have a preoccupation with making everything equal, even if the result is moving all to the same level of mediocrity?

Some school districts are far superior to others, and this fact motivates parents to purchase homes in those districts regardless of the higher property taxes and the higher cost of the home itself. And some more committed parents even pay additional amounts for private schools in a quest for better education.

Recent articles in The Press and The Wall Street Journal have highlighted alarming facts on the status of high school education. While most New Jersey high schools have reasonable graduation rates of 80 percent to 90 percent, Atlantic City and Pleasantville high schools have graduation rates of around 70 percent. And on Dec. 1, Caleb Rossiter wrote in the Wall Street Journal that "the dirty little secret of American education is that not only do half of students in high-poverty high schools drop out, but most of those who graduate ... operate at about the fifth-grade level in academics, organization and behavior."

These facts are an embarrassment to us all, and it's time that we demand more from our educational institutions. School choice (and competition) may not be a panacea, but what we have is not working. School choice opponents are similar to the monopolists of the 19th century. Competition is anathema to the educational establishment because it can undermine its hold on the psyche of our citizens.

We need to inculcate the pursuit of excellence and the strongest desire to learn, achieve and excel. Let's be careful of diluting our quest for success by illogically advocating sameness and inappropriately reinforcing equality of results.

RON SMITH

Brigantine

Give mayor more credit

for Atlantic City events

Regarding the Dec. 2 story, "Atlantic City parade aims to bring good cheer and visitors":

The city of Atlantic City and specifically Mayor Lorenzo Langford's administration continue to get no credit for the great events the city has implemented. Over the years we've implemented outdoor concerts, holiday parades, youth events, multicultural events, the unlocking of the ocean, gospel events, music showcases and art exhibitions, just to name a few.

The Dec. 2 story says this year's parade, sponsored by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, was the first since 1990 to be held "on Atlantic City's main drag." That is incorrect.

The mayor made the decision in 2002 to bring back the parade after years of its absence. It became a tradition under Mayor Langford to schedule the parade on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

In 2010, the Langford administration made the decision not to hold a parade due to limitations in the budget and the state of the economy. The following year, an alternative event was created in partnership with the Atlantic City Free Public Library - "Winter Wonderland," a day of fun, featuring rides, Santa Claus, games, gifts and more held at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

This year, the city was contacted by the CRDA in August and asked if there were plans to hold a parade. Due to the creation of "Winter Wonderland," the city declined. But the mayor did agree that one should be held and encouraged the CRDA to move forward with plans, provided that the city Office of Special Events took part in the planning process. I was told by the CRDA that our only duties would be to secure the special-events permit.

In order to move this city forward, we need to partner with various entities who believe that by working together, everyone achieves. As long as we continue to be divided, we cannot accomplish anything. If there's anyone who is willing to work together with the city to promote Atlantic City as a family-friendly entertainment resort, the Langford administration, including the Office of Special Events staff, welcomes you. Let's do it. Let's get the job done.

SHEILA HARVEY

Special Events Coordinator

Atlantic City

Reducing government

is the way to prosperity

Does socialism work? If you listen to the liberals, it does. Our elected leaders keep telling us about economic equality or inequality. They feel that the government's role is to redistribute the wealth from the top 1 percent to the lower-wage earners. Is this really an effective method of strengthening our nation?

We only need to look at North Korea or Cuba to answer that question. Redistribution of wealth means we become more reliant on government to take care of us. And that means more control over the freedoms that we once enjoyed and the need to expand the size of government.

Our federal tax burden amounts to more than 26 percent of gross domestic product. And when you add in state and local governments, it's even more.

Raising taxes on the rich is not the answer. Reducing the size and strength of government, reducing the habitual spending habits of government, and a flat tax represent the sensible road to rebuilding a durable and proud nation.

PETER McLAUGHLIN

Margate

A.C. airport property

•eeds to be cleaned up

Recently, I was traveling past the Atlantic City International Airport property on Tilton Road near the Federal Aviation Administration technical center and the N.J. Air National Guard. I was very disappointed with the upkeep of the property. There are still quite a few trees that have not been cleaned up since the derecho on June 30 and then Hurricane Sandy.

First impressions are lasting impressions. Atlantic City and Atlantic County are trying to promote the use of the airport and its services, and the property is in such disrepair, with a lack of landscaping maintenance, that it would make me question using the airport services. If I were someone who was going to use the airport, and I saw the condition of the property, I would wonder what else was not being taken care of.

I understand about getting essential services up and running and then cleaning up afterward. But the cleaning up afterward doesn't seem to have started and doesn't seem to be on the radar.

ARTHUR SEARFOSS

Absecon