Expand educational savings accounts
Tennessee’s children would greatly benefit through expanding Tennessee’s Educational Savings Account (ESA) program.
Tennessee’s current ESA program (officially named the Individualized Education Account program) allows parents of eligible children to receive a portion of their district’s per-pupil education funding and use it to create an education plan customized to their child’s individual needs. This program is more flexible than traditional voucher plans in that the funds may be used not only for traditional tuition expenses but also for tutoring and educational therapy. Excess funds can even be saved and used for postsecondary education.
The problem with the current program is that it is available only to children with specified learning disabilities. The other approximately 98 percent of Tennessee’s children are not currently eligible to access the benefits of a customized education plan that an ESA would provide them, regardless of family income or the district in which they reside.
Governor Haslam made education, including the creation of Tennessee’s current ESA program, a priority during his administration; and Governor Lee has promised to continue making Tennessee a national leader in education. Expanding access to ESAs is a great way to keep this promise.
Abortions are not biggest state issue
In the Johnson City Press on Jan. 26, state Rep. Micah Van Huss stated that the most important issue in America right now is "protecting the unborn from abortions." This is a stunningly silly statement, even from Mr. Van Huss. With an opioid epidemic ravaging his district, in the tail end of a federal government shutdown with local residents not receiving paychecks, and with schools underfunded, I have to wonder how Representative Van Huss became so out of touch with his electorate.
While Representative Van Huss may champion less government involvement in healthcare, he is renewing a three-time failure of a bill that injects more government involvement in healthcare making it as unpopular as it is unconstitutional.
Representative Van Huss, please place your ideology aside and get to work on legislation that positively affects all of your district constituents like fighting the opioid epidemic, finding more educational funding and helping rebuild our antiquated infrastructure.
For your constituents, these are the most important issues in America right now.
DR. B.D. WHITFIELD
Get involved in your care
Recently I have read and heard some concerning things that are happening about our regional healthcare systems in Kingsport, Bristol and Greeneville. As a concerned citizen, we have the opportunity to listen to what the state of Tennessee thinks, so I would encourage everyone to attend the Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) meeting that is open to the public to attend that the state of Tennessee will be holding on Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. at Northeast State Community College in the Performing Arts Center. I am only one person and East Tennessee means a lot to me. Maybe we will find out the truth to all the rumors that are going around.
Maybe we will get some answers.
CAROLYN C. GIBBONS