Letters to the Editor

Readers write on whether parents should be privy to information about their college-age children and extol the merits of solar energy.

Should parents be privy to lives of their kids in college?

In response to the April 27 article, "When a student's in trouble, should parents know?": While it is certainly the case that adult students need and deserve a certain level of privacy, I don't believe that it is healthy for college-age, dependent children to have unlimited privacy.

It's quite simple from a parent's perspective: If you want my support, you'll sign this privacy waiver. If you don't want or need my support, you're free to act as you see fit – without my help.

Parents who hand over thousands of dollars for their children to go to a "party" school, with little or no ability to check on academic performance or probe the progress of their "investment," are not doing their children any favors.

Parents, get that waiver signed. Make sure that the schools your children go to will accept it, or send them to schools that will let you continue being a concerned parent.

David Jacobson
Vallejo, Calif.

Regarding the April 27 article on parents' right to know: Children reach adulthood at age 18. Why are we even discussing what colleges should tell the parents of adult students? If not 18, then at what age should there be a cutoff from what schools tell parents about their adult children? 21? 25? 30? What about adult students who have already married or become parents themselves?

Furthermore, why should only schools be allowed to pass on confidential information to parents of adults? If the need to break that confidence is real, shouldn't anyone be able to tell the parents of adults the things they learn in confidence?

And why stop with parents? If the necessity is real, shouldn't teachers, doctors, lawyers, and clergy be required to tell neighbors, friends, and enemies?

In this culture, maturity is set at a certain age. Once people reach that age, they're free to make their own choices, good and bad, without anyone's interference, including that of their parents. Some parents may want to know all that goes on in their adult children's lives, but that doesn't mean they have the right.

If we begin eroding the meaning of adulthood here, where will it stop? When will adults have to take full responsibility for their own lives?

Marie Sornen
Davis, Calif.

Make solar energy even greener

In response to the April 24 article, "Green power may ruin pristine land in California": A statement was made in the article that solar power panels require vast expanses of desert. But solar panels don't have to be installed in the desert, far away from their energy destination. When solar panels are placed on a building, they provide power at the site where it's needed. This solution has benefits that are additional to protecting the natural landscape. Solar panels also reduce the amount of heat leaking into the building through the roof.

This is especially true with large, sprawling industrial buildings and shopping malls, which have many thousands of square feet of roof available and large electricity needs. Placing solar panel arrays over large company parking areas can provide another opportunity: Shading these large expanses of asphalt would keep the cars parked underneath cool. It would also keep the pavement from getting hot.

Obviously, solar energy alone is not the whole answer. But it can be an effective part of the answer – without covering large expanses of desert with solar panels and installing power lines to carry the power off to the urban areas.

Charles H. Wilson
Whale Gulch, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Op-Ed.

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