Dear Friends, Good morning. Let me start a busy week with a funny story that I read in the New York Times (Sept. 8). "An armed man who tried to rob a karate school in Bucaramanga, Columbia, was disarmed by the dozens of students there, the police said. When the police arrived at the scene, it was only to take the would be robber to a hospital for multiple contusions." This dope probably thought that "karate" was the name of a new Columbian dance.Item. It's back to school. According to the Morning Call's story (Sept. 6), there must be a disconnect between high school seniors who failed math and reading portions of the Pennsylvania system of School assessment (PSSA) test and the percentage who planned to go to college. I looked at the results from Palisades, Pennridge, Quakertown, Souderton, and the Upper Perkiomen school districts. The first set of numbers shows the percentage of students who are not proficient in math or reading.

Here they are: Palisades, 27.6; Pennridge, 27.2; Quakertown, 40.6; Souderton, 38.3; and upper Perkiomen, 30.3. The failure numbers ranged from a low of 27.2 percent for Pennridge, to a high of 40.6 percent for Quakertown. Putting it another way, more than one in four seniors failed math or reading.

But those seniors planned to further their education anyway, and by very high numbers. Here they are: Palisades, 84.6 percent plan to go to college; Pennridge, 79.5; Quakertown, 84.3; Souderton, 91.5; Upper Perkiomen, 65.9. I wonder why more than 84 percent of the Quakertown seniors thought they could handle college work when their failure rate to master math and reading ranged between 25 and 40 percent?

It must either be good old-fashioned optimism...or it's a disconnect.

For example we read that Americans worry about public education lagging behind the

Asian and European competition. But most Americans believe that their own community school is a winner.

At the national scene, here's another examplen of disconnect. Today, the approval rate of congress is even lower than the President's. Its approval rate is only in the 20th percentile. Yet most Americans think that their congressman is just dandy. I don't get it.

Turning to another subject, I also don't understand how President Bush expects the public to accept his version of history. The President compares the war in Iraq to the Vietnam War. At least, you could build a case for one similarity. In Vietnam, Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson tried to prop up unpopular governments, failing to understand that Vietnam was a civil war, not an ideological contest between communism and democracy.

In Iraq, the President convinced us to invade a country that was not a threat to America. Unfortunately President Bush has unleashed a religious, civil war.

I believe it was George Santayana who warned, "Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it."

Item. Our daughter, Anne is trying to convince me to join Hillary Clinton's camp. "Dad," she laughs, "If Hillary becomes the President, we'll get four, maybe eight, years of Bill Clinton too! It's a two-for [one]," she quips. Good grief.

Personally, I'm for Michael Bloomberg. The New York City Mayor has become an independent, claiming that both the Democratic and Republican parties are not worth supporting. Most critics give Bloomberg high grades in his governing of

New York. And historians write that being Mayor of New York City is nearly as difficult, prestigious, and important as being President.

Finally. A few weeks ago, I paid a visit to Ed Nawrocki, the President of St. Luke's Quakertown Hospital. I wanted to see the contents of the 80-year-old time capsule, which workmen had recently uncovered. Its contents were in remarkably good condition. There was a bible used in the November 11th, 1928 corner stone laying ceremony. The Hospital Auxiliary presented it.

And a copy of the Quakertown Free Press naturally caught my eye. On one of the pages, the four election wards of Quakertown listed every child who'd had perfect attendance for the month. Donald Feigly's name appeared as a first grader from the first ward. He later became a Quakertown physician.

Claire G. Biehn was the Free Press athletic editor. It didn't matter that Biehn was only a sophomore at QHS. He became one of the best-known lawyers in Bucks County. His son, Kenneth just retired as a county judge.

According to the Free Press, you could buy three cans of Campbell's tomato soup for 20 cents. And a new Plymouth cost $675. The Karlton and the Palace Theaters were big hits for moviegoers.

Nawrocki told me that a committee was working on a new time capsule. In the fall, officials will bury the new version. It will contain a more current edition of the Free Press, plus other items. A copy of Nawrocki's cardiac angiography may be included for all to see.

If they open the new time capsule in 80 years, Nawrocki will be 120. But I have confidence in the modern miracles of medicine... and Nawrocki's staying power.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith Charles Meredith is the former publisher of The Free Press. He can be reached at

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