Union Democrat staff

Focus on athletics is hurting students

To the Editor:

College graduates are better off economically than non-grads, research has consistently shown. Grads on the average earn much more, and their unemployment rate is markedly lower - 3.9 percent versus 9.8 percent according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Bad news: A Sept. 25 Union Democrat article wrote that "fewer than 25 percent" of Tuolumne and Calaveras high school students graduate with the courses required for admission to California universities, compared to 38 percent statewide.

More bad news: The October issue of The Atlantic, a national magazine, headlined its cover story, "How Sports are Ruining High School," and goes on to describe how emphasis on sports has detracted from academic work. Locally, allocation of high school bond funds to athletic or academic programs has been controversial.

Sports are entrenched in our high school, and in the culture. Many of us are alums of SHS. We love our Wildcats and Bears. We exult when our teams win. We glorify our athletic stars.

OK. But still the questions: Are all non-athletes being shortchanged? Are the athletes, themselves, except perhaps those receiving university scholarships, also being shortchanged?

Some rethinking of priorities is needed. The life changes for many of our young people, their prospects for a satisfying life, could depend on it.

Dick Peterson


Criticize Tea Party, criticize America

To the Editor:

Several letters have been posted that denigrate the Tea Party movement, along with Speaker Boehner and Congressman Tom McClintock for their efforts to support Tea Party goals.

In a broad sense, the main goal of the Tea Party movement is to change the institution of the federal government to the effect that American's freedoms are restored to the ideals of the founding fathers. These ideas include: Low taxes; dramatically smaller government with a much reduced role; substantially less central government (Washington) and a preference for states rights; more individual freedom; and free market prosperity.

This goals are accomplished in a number of ways: American citizens must decide to elect out corrupt officials and replace them with individuals who value the input of the average citizen; the government that governs best is one that governs least, and elected leaders must be made to understand that; those officials who remain in office should know that they will not remain if they vote against the will of the people.

Accomplishing these goals is extraordinarily difficult given that progressives (liberals) control the U.S. Senate and the presidency. The process often seems counter-productive and messy.

The Tea Party movement claims no de facto leader. The will of the average citizen drives the movement. While certain groups and organizations do help to fund and position the movement, it was not conceived, designed, or mobilized by a political party or traditional ideology. Any American who is dissatisfied with the role of government in daily life is welcome to join the movement and participate in the cause.

Denigrating the Tea Party movement is the equivalent of disparaging the American way of life.

Ray Anderson