Invest in Education, Not in Top Earners
In response to "Little Movement Is Made on Fiscal Cliff Budget Talks" (Dec. 7), instead of extending the Bush tax cuts for the highest-earning 2 percent, we can better serve our nation by investing in education.
As an active volunteer within the Somali refugee community in Pittsburgh, I have spent much time helping Somali students with their homework. One of my regular students whom I tutor is a 10th grader studying at her neighborhood Pittsburgh public high school, working toward her dream of becoming teacher. She is incredibly studious and takes academics seriously.
I was surprised to learn during a tutoring session that her school has an insufficient number of books and thus does not allow students to take textbooks home. Inadequate funding for education is not only causing a textbook shortage, it is causing art programs to vanish, teachers to be laid off, schools to close and students to drop out.
Education is not a gift -- it is an investment in our nation's future. But as long as only our suburban and private schools can afford new books, science equipment and educational innovations, our country is at risk of being left in the dust by countries that have fully recognized the role of public and nationally subsidized education in creating a strong economy. We must fight to end the Bush administration tax cuts for the top 2 percent so that a good education is not a privilege but an opportunity for all.
The writer is a high school senior.
HELP THE STUDENTS
I am a recent graduate of Pittsburgh Public Schools and a student at Community College of Allegheny County, and I am extremely concerned about the potential cuts to education. Our schools need enough support to keep class sizes small and higher education needs to be affordable.
When I was in elementary and high school, there was at least a handful of kids in most classes who would act up and distract other kids in the class. Kids act out when they're confused or behind. Sometimes I was one of those kids. I didn't learn everything I was supposed to learn.
I've been a student at CCAC for three years, and I have overcome tremendous obstacles to make it this far. I am finally really learning how to study effectively. My vision is to transfer to the University of Pittsburgh and become a child psychologist.
I want to help children where I went wrong, but there are potential federal cuts to education that would compromise my dream of students being well-supported and able to afford higher education. These cuts may cause teacher layoffs, and consequently larger classes, leading to less attention and support for students. Such cuts would also slash certain programs that make college financially feasible for some students.
Instead of cutting education or any of the programs that strengthen our communities, like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other human services, we should allow the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners to expire.
ALLOW DEFENSE CUTS
Missing from the "fiscal cliff" discussions is any mention of the Pentagon budget. It accounts for half of the funds that Congress appropriates every year, which makes it a good place to look for spending cuts, especially given that the Pentagon loses, wastes or misspends $102 billion a year -- more than the budgets of the State, Interior, Commerce and Justice departments combined.
Military spending doubled from 2001 to 2011, thanks to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iraq war is over and U. …