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<b>Being in school</b>

EDITOR: I enjoyed reading the Washington Post editorial "No more empty desks at school" (What others say, Sept. 19). Absenteeism is an issue many parents don't understand. I am a second-grade teacher, and I have had parents ask me to send home the work their child is missing while absent. It isn't that simple. The teaching that goes along with the work happens at school.

There is something occurring in schools that is as problematic as absenteeism. That is students being tardy and leaving early. So many minutes of instruction are lost every day because of this. Students begin working at the first bell and continue working until the last bell — even on Friday afternoon.

I tell parents that the two most important things they can do for their child's education are to read to them at night and have them in school on time, all day, every day.

ELLEN GIUNCHIGLIANI

Rohnert Park

<b>Ignoring science</b>

EDITOR: Scientific evidence proving climate change has grown from a wave into a tsunami, but people go on buying and driving huge SUVs and other gas-guzzlers as if they live in isolation from the rest of the planet.

This and other lemming-like environmental behaviors should be condemned as the shameful, immoral attacks on civilization that they are, but ignorance and hubris are the way of the world, a world whose current climate is slipping into a fearsome future.

Simply looking at one year's or a few years' temperatures, local conditions or other limited factors doesn't tell the story. Understanding only comes from seeing the evidence as a whole. That is what climate scientists have done and why they are hitting the alarm bells. But from the number of SUV drivers it seems still too few are listening. Selfishness and monied interests prevail.

ANDY FERGUSON

Petaluma

<b>Auto section</b>

EDITOR: I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the new Saturday auto section. The articles along with Click And Clack make me look forward to the paper arriving.

JOHN O'NEILL

Rohnert Park

<b>Let Congress go first</b>

EDITOR: If having health insurance is such a bad idea for the American people, let our Congress members lead by example. Cancel their health insurance policies, and after they have been without them for a year or so, let them revisit the idea of health insurance for everyone.

J.A. BRANDON

Petaluma

<b>Catholic teachers</b>

EDITOR: The article titled "Weighing pope's words" on Sept. 21 included this statement: "The bishop decided not to require teachers to sign the morality 'addendum' to their contracts. It would have required educators employed by the diocese to affirm that contraception, gay marriage and euthanasia are 'modern errors' and 'matters that gravely offend human dignity.' "

I believe this statement is in error. From what I understand, Bishop Robert Vasa only plans to delay the contract requirement for a year, not do away with it. This delay seems to me charitable and reasonable. It gives those who cannot conform to the contractual requirement adequate time to find work elsewhere, and it allows the time necessary for the administrators of the schools to hire permanent replacement teachers with moral character appropriate for Catholic education.

LARRY MESPL?

Sonoma

<b>One man's quest</b>

EDITOR: Two years ago, the Sonoma City Council voted to allow gas-powered leaf blowers during specific days and hours. Darryl Ponicsan now has a petition to ban these blowers completely ("Quest to ban leaf blowers," Sept. 16).

Meaning no disrespect to Ponicsan, an accomplished author, artist and screenwriter, he just gets perturbed at the sound of the blowers at the Little League field across from his studio. He believes there would be no additional cost if we rake and sweep instead. As an employee of Scandia Landscaping for 30 years, I can assure you there would be a cost increase, which would have to be passed on to the consumer.

Ponicsan says many cities in California have banned these blowers. Of the 456 incorporated cities, fewer than 5 percent have done so, and those are very wealthy cities, i.e. Beverly Hills and Malibu.

Ponicsan wants the 95 percent to go along with the wishes of the 5 percent. I suggest when the blower starts he put in ear plugs, turn up his music or take a shower. When Little League season begins, let's hope Ponicsan doesn't start a petition to ban those noisy ball-playing kids.

WENDY GUSTAFSSON

Sonoma