<b>21st century skills</b>
EDITOR: Joy Pullman ("Computer playtime," Letters, Wednesday) missed the mark completely. I'm not sure how much time she's spent recently in Sonoma County classrooms, but if she took some time to observe she would likely realize this: A great many students in economically disadvantaged areas have little to no access to technology at home. If not in school, where does she expect they will learn the skills necessary to take new Common Core computer-based assessments in 2015?
As a former K-6 computer lab instructor, I have seen firsthand that many students are alarmingly unprepared to take these tests. She may think it's a waste of time to teach mouse usage, dragging and dropping and keyboarding, but what she sees as distractions are critical real-world skills that students will need to take these forthcoming tests. These are skills required not only to succeed in elementary school but to also thrive in college and today's workforce.
To dismiss technology in schools so readily is to turn a blind eye to the reality of the 21st century classroom. Excellent teachers know how to integrate technology into the curriculum and make it count, and, as a 21st century teacher, that's my goal.
Roseland Elementary School
<b>Ban plastic bags</b>
EDITOR: The Sierra Club Sonoma Group and Sonoma County Conservation Action endorse the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency policy that would regulate single-use carryout bags from grocery and retail stores and eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags altogether ("Cities resisting plastic bag ban," Thursday).
The energy put into producing and recycling plastic bags damages beautiful Sonoma County and beyond. Many of these bags will not be recycled but will instead pollute our landscape, our creeks, our ocean and be detrimental to wildlife. Countywide action is needed to give a consistent message to grocers and retailers regarding how Sonoma County will regulate carryout bags and to prevent the environmental damage that disposable plastic bags cause.
We urge all of Sonoma County's cities to vote to join the county Waste Management joint powers authority to ban plastic carryout bags. More than 200 municipalities around the world have taken similar action. It's time for Sonoma County to join them.
Chairman, Sierra Club Sonoma Group
and DENNY ROSATTI
Executive director, Sonoma County Conservation Action
<b>Making bases secure</b>
EDITOR: Our military bases would be secure if it wasn't for the first Bush administration's directive issued Feb. 25, 1992 that limited firearms to military police on all U.S. military. If military personnel had their weapons with them, the killings at the Washington Navy Yard wouldn't have happened. Casualties would have been at a minimum. Start having military personnel carry their weapons while on base, and this will stop senseless killings.
If our military personnel at Fort Hood had their weapons on them, the killing of those soldiers would have been at a minimum and they would have killed the Army doctor causing the mayhem. President Barack Obama called this a workplace violence issue instead of a terrorist attack by one of their own.
Now you have the gun grabbers at it once more — blaming the gun, not the person. Aaron Alexis used a shotgun, not an AR-15.
FRANCOIS P. JERINS