February 11, 2013

Letters to the editor: Wake-up call needed on teens' bedtimes

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."

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The school day would start an hour later at Portland High School, above, and other city secondary schools under a proposal by district officials. Without parental oversight, a later start to the school day means that teens will probably stay up later “playing video games and tagging friends on Facebook,” a reader says.

2010 File Photo/John Ewing

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."

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