Letters to the Editor

iPads in Pre-K through 2nd grade classes

I recently heard there was a donation of iPads for the Paul Banks Elementary School students. I think that it is great for our community to come together and support each other and The Homer Foundation should be thanked and appreciated for this.

However, as the mother of two young boys who will be entering kindergarten within the next few years, I am not OK with them using an iPad at the outset of their education. I understand there is research stating the benefits of iPads to help with individualized learning options, phonics and they give students the opportunity to do unique projects, but I think that it is false to believe this is a better way of teaching or learning.There are many downsides to using iPads including: they are distracting; onscreen reading is different-but not better-from traditional reading. Children need less screen-time, not more. Evidence is limited to show the benefits of iPads as an educational and resource, especially for young children.

There is plenty of research showing the negative effects of screen time with children between 2-9 years old, saying there should be less than one to two hours a day of screen time and zero for children under 2. In the movie, “The Overwhelm of Boys,” Kim John Payne, M.Ed cites Jane Healy, PhD. on processing time of images. It takes girls about 3 seconds on average to process an image and it take boys up to 8 seconds to process an image. Think about kindergarten boys using an “educational” game and how long they will be processing those images of shapes, colors and sounds before they can actually fully understand the skill that was intended for them to learn.

I understand we are in a world that is evolving in technology and that we need to make sure our children will be prepared for their world. However, the people who have created iPads, iPhones, computers, apps and the like did not learn with these devices. They learned from books and teachers and spending time outside. If Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had this experience and developed these tools, I am sure our kids can develop equally innovative tools without being passive consumers of screens.

I hope this opens up a community conversation.

Hanna Young, M.Ed., Tiny Trees Homer’s Forest School

A modest proposal

The state should put in House Bill 62. HB 62 is the bill that says when a person calls in another person to the authorities and says that person has guns and you think that person could be a danger to society, then the authorities come in and takes those guns away.

When my friends and I go to buy drugs, our drug dealer has guns in his house. That means that we cannot get drugs for free. We have to pay for them. We do not like that. We want to get them for free. The way we can get drugs for free is to put in HB 62.

With HB 62 in play, we can then call state authorities and turn in our drug dealer for having guns. The authorities will then be able to confiscate those guns. Once those guns are gone, we will then be able to go over to our drug dealer’s house and help ourselves with all the drugs we want. We will then be able to get drugs for free. That we like. So give drug users a break and put in HB 62.

John Suter, Chugiak

KHLT appreciates Homer Foundation

To the Editor;

Kachemak Heritage Land Trust would like to thank the Homer Foundation for the grant support we received supporting our Moving Away from Paper project. Grant funds were used to help KHLT stewardship staff upgrade to an electronic monitoring system. Items purchased included an iPad Pro with WiFi and cellular capabilities for use in the field and KHLT’s Stewardship Director attended Managing Geospatial Data in ArcGIS training to learn how to take full advantage of the new system. Upgrading to electronic monitoring is necessary to help fulfill required stewardship responsibilities of the over 3,700-acres of under the Land Trust’s care. KHLT also purchased a one-year subscription to Zoom, an online way to conference call.

Thank you, Homer Foundation, we appreciate your continued support of our conservation efforts, protecting irreplaceable lands on the Kenai Peninsula for the future.

Marie McCarty, Executive Director, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust

Pass Improving HOPE law

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, including 8,000 here in Alaska. More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, including 33,000 in Alaska. I was one of those Americans.

For the individual living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, care planning is essential to learning about medical and non-medical treatments, clinical trials, and support services available in their community. Accessing these services results in a higher quality of life. As someone who cared for someone with dementia, I understand the enormous burden dementia has on the families and the economy. For someone who flew to another state to give respite care, not only was it a financial cost for myself, the emotional toll is devastating to watch. Thankfully as of January 2017, Medicare covers critical care planning services. However, not enough patients and providers are aware of this resource. That is why myself along with 1300 other advocates from across the country go to D.C. and ask Congress to cosponsor the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 880/H.R 1873).

The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act would help educate clinicians on Alzheimer’s and dementia care planning services through Medicare. Endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association, the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act will give them the knowledge and tools to better help their patient and families living with dementia after diagnosis. I wish we had the resources back when my mom was sick, that passing this bill, would bring the families of today.

Please join me in asking Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Representative Young to support the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act.

To learn more about this disease and how you can join the fight to end Alzheimer’s, visit alzimpact.org.

Cindy Harris, Alzheimer’s Association Alaska Ambassador

Separate reality from fake news

I find it disconcerting that Dana Stabenow, after promoting the transcending benefit of her higher education from the University of Alaska, seemed unable — in her letter from last week — to accurately relate the facts concerning Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s FY 2020 University budget cut.

Although it makes a good talking point for who those who hate the governor, the truth is more nuanced. True, the Governor initially attempted to cut $130 million — 40-ish % — of the University’s share, $322 million, of the Unrestricted General Fund (UGF), but public and legislative pressure forced him to abandon that plan. Last August he reached an agreement with the University to cut $25 million. That’s only 8% of the UGF, or 3% of the total $850 million University budget.

Separating fake news from reality by following the money takes effort, discipline, insight, and objectivity, all elements of a good education. So, I’m not overly impressed by University of Alaska’s ability to produce well-rounded graduates.

Rep. Sarah Vance is courageously, and properly, supporting the governor as he strives to restrain the State’s headlong slide into budgetary red-ink.

Larry Slone