State legislators, please look at UT
Today, my granddaughter, a senior at UT Knoxville, told her early morning professor she felt ill and was advised to go to the health center on campus. She was informed that they could see her 10 days hence. So she left campus to travel to a CVS pharmacy, where the doctor on duty informed her she had the flu and to go to her dorm and go to bed. This makes me realize that our students at UT have no access to meaningful medical care. The health department exists so they can tell worried parents that health care is available on-campus.
That is much like their sale of parking permits to students, which doesn't guarantee them a parking place, but should they be able to find one, guarantees they won't be towed.
Have your students bought groceries on campus or gasoline? They pay exorbitant prices compared to venues just down the road from campus. I am ashamed of how our flagship university gouges those students they ostensibly are there to serve. Can our state legislators not provide any protection to our children at the Knoxville and other state campuses?
African-American community needs grassroots leaders
While I appreciate TFP columnist David Cook recently shining light on issues stemming from redevelopment in Chattanooga's historically black communities, I felt the piece painted African-Americans as helpless.
Chattanooga's policies are not meant to exclusively serve the interests of its African-American population — and that should be no surprise. It is ultimately up to African-Americans to ensure that their interests are represented, protected and respected. By staying inactive and/or complacent in our own communities and local government, and asking others to be benevolent toward us, we leave the door wide open for "urban revitalization" and other forms of exploitation in those communities.
Where the African-American community is today is due in part to us not paying enough attention to the issues affecting it. Until we start making day-to-day investments in the diversification of thought, innovation and education in our communities, those issues will persist — despite benevolence on the part of local government.
As the writer suggested, the local African-American community needs more leaders. But as an African-American native of Chattanooga, I ask how do you find those leaders in a subculture that has largely neglected, and sometimes even discouraged, African-American leadership and success?
Educating prisoners can pay in big way
There are about 58,000 prisoners in Tennessee who do not pay taxes but rather have our tax dollars spent on their confinement. Many of these criminals also get reconvicted shortly after their release, which further increases the prison population.
One achievable step to reducing this problem is to fund a program to educate prisoners. According to a RAND Research and Development analysis, "For every dollar we invest in such education, $4 will be returned to our economy." Educated prisoners have a 32 percent lower rate of recidivism than those without such education, according to a National Institute of Justice study. After their release, these prisoners can go on to be productive members of society. If less crime means fewer incarcerated prisoners, this reduces prison populations and the associated costs.
Currently, it costs $71,100 annually to house one inmate. A basic, one-year community college education costs only $5,000. With each prisoner who lives a lawful life after release, $76,100 can completely cover the prisoner and education costs. Money from the drop in recidivism can be used for funding other projects like road repairs and primary education.