Letters to the Editor, April 6, 2011

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Academic competition is good

SCHS Guidance Counselor Cathleen Johnson bemoaned that students in the past have chosen classes only to improve their class rank rather than to prepare for their careers, giving the example of a student’s taking Advanced Placement Microeconomics rather than Medical Chemistry when the student planned to become a doctor.  Our household can testify that veterinarians, farmers, bookkeepers, and, yes, evenmotherscan benefit from an understanding of economics.  One Shelbyville physician obtained his MBA after acquiring his MD.  Apparently he realized the value of cross-training.

Our daughter Landri took AP Environmental Science solelybecause it was a weighted class.  At the end of her senior year, she learned that the college she planned to attend offered a Bank of America sustainability scholarship worth $28,000.  She applied for the scholarship and received it.  Had she not taken AP Environmental Science, she would never have considered applying for that scholarship.  Sustainability, a topic covered by the class, is something everyoneneeds to understand in order to help save the planet for future generations – not just those planning to work in environmental studies.

Our teenagers’ motivation for taking AP classes was definitely competition for class rank.  They were never inspired to take tough classes because they loved hard work.

Shelby County students are training to enter an extremely competitivejob market and be employed in a highly competitivework environment.  Competition for class rank is valuable training for the real world.

Shelby County Public Schools should reward students who excel by seating our graduates in rank order.

Beth Tripp




Board wants to hear about issue


Phil Tripp makes good points in his column (“New academic policies at conflict,” My Word, March 30) when he questions the decision not to seat successful students at the head of their class at graduation.  The best way to reward and acknowledge high performing students at graduation has been a much-discussed (and sometimes hotly debated) topic at Shelby County School Board meetings.  I would very much like to hear the views of other parents on this issue. Celebrating our best students and telling them that they have done a great job is a high priority for me.

Sam Hinkle, chair, Shelby County School Board




Not a Christian nation


We are not a Christian nation. We are a secular nation whose citizens are Christian.  I would say this is more by birth than practice.

I come across this often and the most common response is that our founding fathers were Christians who based our laws upon Christian laws.

This is false. Our laws may have taken a partial inspiration from the Talmud or Hebrew sharia law, but inspiration came from many points of origin. 

Our founding fathers wanted nothing to do with mixing religion and government.  To prove this let's take a look at the words from our first three presidents.

George Washington: "And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion."

John Adams: "The government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion."

Thomas Jefferson: "I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.”…"In every country and every age, religion had been hostile to Liberty."…"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God."

There are many more quotes from Adams, Jefferson and many other founding fathers. Washington only mentions God once and refers to Him as a deity. 

My greatest fear is that we will go against the founding fathers and turn our country into a theocracy and strip the freedom they fought for away from U.S. citizens.

Thomas Jefferson's view of a big government was not the amount of money it spent but the amount of laws it forced upon its people. 

To him and the other founders, every law meant a little less freedom.  So while I agree that any group can say anything in our free country, I'm glad others are watching them, which they are free to do as well.

The major thing that bothers me about these groups that the Southern Poverty Law Centeris watching is they propagate hate and want to pass laws restricting what a U.S. citizen can do just because they disapprove of their lifestyle. They are still stripping them of their freedom and to me that is no better than what we despise in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Taliban and other dictatorships and theocracies.

Dan Barry


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