Vouchers are good for public schools
Vouchers are a threat to the public school system in the sense that immunization is a threat to disease.
DONALD CHEATHAM, Tullahoma, Tenn.
Congress pensions don't pay full salary
I would like to correct misinformation in recent letters about congressional pensions. They do not retire with full salary after one term; they may retire with full retirement benefit at 62 if they have 5 years of service, or at 60 with 10 years. A study by the Congressional Research Service shows those members who retired under the old Civil Service Retirement System, given to Congress members in 1946, now receive an average of $60,972 a year, and the current average salary is $165,200. Granted, the retirement benefits are quite generous if one stays in the system for 20 to 30 years, but they are never more than 80 percent of highest paid years.
There are four options for those under the old CSRS and three options for those under the newer system; Social Security, Federal Employee Retirement System and they may voluntarily participate in a Thrift Plan, which they pay into and the government matches. One needs to read the full 2007 report of the CRS, Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress for a full discussion of all the options.
Full mandatory participation in Social Security began in 1984.
With regard to Medicare: Under the Affordable Care Act they must be covered by the Act or an exchange covered by the Act. See H.R. 3590, D, (i).
Let residents have voice in annexation
For the past 15 months, concerned citizens in the Ooltewah, Harrison, Georgetown and Birchwood areas signed petitions to incorporate the new city of Hamilton in Northeast Hamilton County. That volunteer effort was in response to the Chattanooga's policy of selectively annexing new areas north of the city before offering improved -- or in some cases, not any -- services to areas previously annexed.
Chattanooga charged annexed businesses stormwater fees that were arbitrarily calculated. Businesses that complained found that there was little consistency in what they were being charged from business to business (and church to church). It's apparent to county residents that the city is looking to grow its revenue base without first reforming its virtually bankrupt and spendthrift finances.
In the late 1990s, a Democrat-dominated state Legislature passed an Agenda 21-friendly annexation and urban planning bill that removed residents' right to vote on annexation, substituting instead the judgment of political insiders and bureaucrats who designed their own game plan. We believe Rep. Mike Carter's bill appropriately returns that voting right back to residents and returns to the fundamental American ideal of local voices having a say in their own governance.
BRENDAN JENNINGS, Rockwood, Tenn.
Others should learn from magnet schools
I think that it is great that two magnet schools in Hamilton County have been named Magnet Schools of Excellence for the second time. They are both inner-city schools and have found a way to teach effectively and thrive.
Teaching is a difficult job, and I think a lot of other schools in the area really could benefit from learning about what these schools are doing differently to turn education around for our city's children and apply it in other schools. You can tell that at Battle Academy and Center for Creative Arts, the school administration, staff and community all are working together to create a better learning environment and more individualized instruction for all students under their roof.
These kids are our future, and they deserve a quality education despite where they live or their family's socioeconomic status. Great job!