Both parents and students have said they’d support a later start to the school day for Portland Public Schools, because children are often exhausted in the early morning and their learning and test scores are greatly affected (“Longer school days, shorter summers under Portland school plan,” Feb. 4). One parent said, “Kids just want to stay up late.”

Whatever happened to parent accountability? The National Sleep Foundation reports that teenagers need between 8½ and 9¼ hours of sleep each night. So, then, why do parents allow their children to stay up late? Why complicate things by changing the schedule for an entire school district?

Parents need to enforce a reasonable bedtime for their children to ensure adequate hours of sleep on school nights. While they’re at it, parents probably should monitor late-night cellphone, computer and television usage to make sure their children are actually in bed sleeping and not up late texting or watching Leno.

Last I checked, there are 24 hours in a day. Any way one slices it, a later start to the school day doesn’t change the Earth’s rotation. It does, however, affect the hours of daylight available after class is out.

A later start to the school day would equal fewer hours and field space for after-school sports. No, while sports benefit kids, they are not the priority here — education is — but parents need to do their part to support their children’s education.

Without parents setting the limits for their children, a later start to the school day very well could just lead to a later night staying up playing video games and tagging friends on Facebook.

Enforcing a reasonable bedtime isn’t a fix-all for parents when living with their teenage children, but it’s a great start.

Joel Robert Costigan

Portland

Don’t look to Democrats to help property taxpayers

I attended a meeting of Saco Citizens for Sensible Taxes on Jan. 31.

The meeting opened with a speech by Democratic state Sen. Linda Valentino. The senator basically said that if we did not give her and her fellow Democrats full support against Gov. LePage’s plan to cut revenue sharing to balance the state budget, municipalities will have no choice but to raise property taxes.

As the meeting progressed, I began to realize that our hopes of averting another property tax hike did not lay in the hands of a political party that is notorious for using tax hikes to balance budgets.

I saw that Saco Citizens for Sensible Taxes was a committee of knowledgeable, motivated people who are also concerned that rising property taxes will soon make it impossible for many people to retire in their current home.

As each member presented their findings, we were made aware that our municipal budget was filled with duplications of services and frivolous expenses. Many citizens such as me have now requested that our City Council seat a member of that committee at any meeting where budgetary matters are discussed. We are awaiting the council’s decision.

To citizens in other communities: Your property taxes are not dependent on your county, state or even federal government! Start checking up on your municipal foxes that are watching over the henhouse containing your property taxes.

Ted Sirois

Saco

Headline on hostage taker spotlights newspaper’s bias

Your Feb. 4 Associated Press news report, “Alabama standoff: Loner railed against government,” used this large-print subhead: “Jim Lee Dykes, who shot a school bus driver and took a child, was a fan of conservative talk radio.”

What in God’s green earth does his being a fan of conservative talk radio have anything to do with this hard-news story? Unless, of course, you want to demonize conservative talk radio. I am sure your new owners, Donald Sussman and his wife, Chellie Pingree, would never want that to happen.

I also wonder what would have been printed if the killer had been a fan of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. I guess those charges about slanted news stories are getting some traction.

Larry Davis

Hallowell

Consumers get little help as hotline goes unanswered

I am wondering if anyone else has had difficulty reaching the consumer hotline in the Maine Attorney General’s Office, and, further, if you have encountered the same response as we have. Bottom line: There is no one answering the phones!

For the second time, I made a direct call, I was informed by a pleasant voice to “please continue to hold … we will be on the line shortly …,” etc., as well as providing the website, email address and snail mall address. If I had online access, I would use it. Previously, I have forwarded a snail mail letter without response.

Back to the phone calls. After waiting 22 minutes each time, a last message informed me, “Due to high volume …,” and then my call was disconnected again.

I informed the Attorney General’s Office of the ridiculous practice — again. The first time I did so, the human answering the phone offered to connect me to the consumer hotline. If you are paying by the minute for calls, that does not seem to be sensible. Additionally, I requested a friend to phone the line, and the same thing occurred.

We are wondering: Is there a “phantom” office in the bowels of the State House in Augusta?

Loretta M. Turner

Biddeford

Background checks backer bigoted against gun owners

I must question the wisdom of this newspaper in publishing such mean-spirited thoughts from Richard B. Innes in Maine Voices (“Expanding firearm background checks makes all kinds of sense,” Jan. 24).

Mr. Innes’ bigoted views on gun owners have added nothing to the debate on the Second Amendment. If we are to come together and work on these issues, the narrow-minded rambles of Mr. Innes are not needed.

John DeSilvia

North Berwick