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Homework assignment

EDITOR: I am writing as a school administrator and a parent of a special-needs son who would be placed in a special education life-skills work program similar to the one identified in your May 30 article ("Special ed project curtailed after union complains"). The school district and the union should use the summer as an opportunity to build a conversation around the problem. Here are their summer homework assignments:

The Santa Rosa school district needs to work with special ed teachers to bring formal structure to the program. What started out as a good idea (giving students work opportunities) needs to have the identity and structure any real-world job has: a program name (logo and special shirts) and job descriptions.

The California School Employees Association should review the tasks the students are doing and find areas in which unit members can have more direct involvement with the students. Spending time with the students can provide a mentor experience and an accountability aspect to the tasks students perform.

This is a pass/fail assignment where both sides sit down together, hear the concerns of the other and find a satisfactory compromise that earns a passing grade.

MARC ELIN

Santa Rosa

Morally straight

EDITOR: I can't stand the thought of Dave Palmgren ("Sad day for Scouting," Letters, Tuesday) having the last word on the subject of morality. Being "morally straight" is a choice of all people whether gay or straight, religious or atheist. You are likely to be morally straight if you have respect for the rights, feelings and property of your fellow man and do nothing to harm them.

Palmgren strongly implies that no gay person could be morally straight. The world is full of heterosexual criminals and deviants. When are we going to stop persecuting gay people in the name of religion? Freedom to maintain bigotry in the religious sphere seems a sad goal to me.

CAROL NORICK

Guerneville

Parks in peril

EDITOR: My husband and I were at the Japanese festival last Sunday in Juilliard Park, one of the most beautiful parks in Santa Rosa. All the grass was the color of wheat, the stream under the bridge was not moving, and it was full of algae and slime. I understand that Santa Rosa is not watering any park lawns to save money.

It is bad enough that the exits off the freeway have weeds higher than your car. I asked a city councilman about this problem, and his reply was it was Caltrans' responsibility.

It looks as if we are going to have to change our motto to "the city designed for leaving" instead of "the city designed for living."

It is a disgrace, and Santa Rosa should be ashamed.

DIANE D'AMBROGIA

Santa Rosa

Chances to help

EDITOR: A letter and an article in the May 30 paper embody the fear-mongering in today's society.

In their letter, Joe and Margo Leo ("Just no to SAY") write that permitting Social Advocates for Youth to set up shop in the old Warrack Hospital makes them fearful (and) "would lead to loitering on our streets, taking away our peace and tranquility and jeopardizing our safety." The presumption is that these youths, ages 18 to 24, who are "at-risk," are people to be feared. These are mostly foster children who have aged out of the system with no familial support who need direction and guidance to become productive citizens.

A union representative for the California School Employees Association fears that special education students doing gardening work at Steele Lane Elementary School make school employees "look really bad, and it makes us look like we are not doing anything." Why not support the students' training and recruit them as potential new union members?

Community support of marginalized citizens has to occur or the taxpayers will pay the bill in the future. I applaud Ron Reichmuth and Social Advocates for Youth for supporting young people who need our help.

DONNA GAETANO

Santa Rosa