I would like to complement two items in the Viewpoint page of The Newport Plain Talk in the Saturday/Sunday, March 9-10, 2019 Edition.

Steve Davidson’s Ed Talk entitled “Choices” made an excellent summary of the potential harm to public education in Tennessee if our newly elected governor is successful in implementing a state funded program for school vouchers. As Steve so aptly explained, vouchers and “Educational Savings Accounts” both basically take public tax money and apply it to private schools. I have nothing against private schools, but they should not be supported with the public’s money. As a wider gap grows between the upper and lower socioeconomic classes in America, the last thing we need as a community, state, and country is a campaign that will dilute our public education system. This could happen if vouchers and educational savings accounts are voted into law by our legislators. Public education, is one of the pillars in our country that gives opportunity to all children. Some don’t take advantage of educational opportunity, but without it, where would we be as a society today and where will we be in the future? I, for one, do not want to find out.

To Jerry Henderson who wrote the Letter to the Editor, supporting the Cocke County School System, I would like to say “Thank you and Amen!” Our public educators in Cocke County do an amazing job teaching our children. Many times they are called on to be so much more than “just” teachers in helping to nurture and educate our county’s most precious resources. The teachers in Cocke County are required to try to instruct every child that enters the door of the school building, regardless of their ability, socioeconomic background, and in spite of what hardships they may face at home. We have the personnel and facilities in our school system that make it possible for our students to accomplish whatever they wish and become whomever they want to be as so stated in Mr. Henderson’s letter.

However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continuously work to keep our facilities and technology up to date and be competitive with other systems in offering our personnel decent wages and benefits. This does come without a price tag. If we do not keep up in this arena, Cocke County will not be an attractive place for business, industry, tourism or retirees to locate.

Public education has been an important part in the life of most of us in our community. Please urge your elected officials to continue to support public education and the next time you see one of our wonderful public school teachers say “thank you” for all that you do.

Sincerely,

Ken Johnson, MD

Chairman, Cocke County Board of Education

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