Letters to the Editor
Readers write about teaching skills for the 21st century in school, America's continuing role as a major global power, and preventing politicians who commit felonies from keeping their government posts.
New skills need to be taught in 21st century education
Regarding the Jan. 8 article, "Schools tap '21st-century skills'": This article left out one of the most important skills that is sadly lacking in many of our citizens. With all the information that is available today, we must be able to separate the irrelevant from the important and the fiction from the facts. Websites such as Factcheck.org, MediaMatters.org, and others document examples of the media, websites, and politicians giving out false or, at best, misleading information so as to support their own agenda or the agenda of their backers. If we are to avoid costly mistakes and solve the daunting problems we have, our citizens must be able to see through campaigns of misinformation.
Linking academics with practical skills is the core of what's needed in our learning system. It's necessary to connect the basics of education with real world applications.
America still has a major global role
In regard to the Jan. 7 Opinion piece, "The American Century isn't over": Waning US influence on international issues, compounded by economic recession and military misadventures, surely does not diminish its standing as a global player of major significance. America has championed the best values of modern societies in the form of democracy, pluralistic progressive multiculturalism, spirit of enterprise, and freedom of thought and speech. During a time when fanatical fundamentalist bigotry is proliferating into many parts of the world, nations that share values similar to those of American ideals look to the US to play a leadership role in countering this menace.
Barack Obama's coming presidency seems like an ideal opportunity to address the current challenges and emerge as a more dynamic and responsible world power.
America's high rate of population growth is not, as asserted by this commentary, a good thing. The US faces enormous problems from overpopulation, including pollution, traffic congestion, resource depletion, excessive demands on infrastructure, and – most alarmingly – looming water shortages.
An increasing population will make it more difficult to solve our problems. And because at some juncture population growth will have to stop, we should have the courage to embrace zero (or negative) population growth. That way, we could save something of the planet for future generations.
Bar felon-pols from office
Regarding the Jan. 10 article, "With impeachment, Illinois takes first step to remove Blagojevich": American politicians have a tiresome habit of staying in office to fight despite disgrace and proven illegal actions. This pattern must be destroyed.
The governor of Illinois, who will be convicted, and the former senator from Alaska, who already was a convict when he ran again, must each receive the maximum possible sentences with all terms to be served consecutively. We simply must deter officials from putting their ego in front of our need for good government. If they are innocent, then let them remain and show it. But if they have remained in their post and are found guilty, then they should be removed from their posts.
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