A Letter from the state Capitol
Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 8:01 pm
By: Gov. Phil Bredesen, Special to The Press
Dear fellow Tennessean,
As Tennessee’s students head back to school, families all across the state are making preparations to ensure their students have a smooth start to the new school year.
As a parent, I know whether your child is starting Pre-K or a senior in high school, back-to-school season is one of the busiest times of the year.
Here in Tennessee we are fortunate to have many programs and resources to help make the transition easier.
I hope the following tools will give students across the state the best possible chance for educational success in the coming year.
Participate in the Sales Tax Holiday.
I encourage Tennessee families to participate in the annual Sales Tax Holiday. The long weekend of savings is a good way to prepare children to start the first day of school properly equipped and ready to learn.
From Aug.6-8, Tennesseans can purchase school supplies and clothing priced $100 or less per item, and computers priced $1,500 or less, without paying state or local sales taxes.
Make a list of the items your family needs for the new school year so you’ll be ready to take advantage of the holiday.
Visit www.tntaxholiday.com or call (800) 342-1003 for more information.
Enroll your children in a health insurance program.
Children’s heath is just as important as their education, and the two go hand in hand. Providing health insurance ensures children have access to regular preventive checkups and reduces absence from school due to illness.
CoverKids allows qualifying children 18 and under to get FREE, comprehensive health insurance so they may obtain preventive health care such as vaccinations and services like doctor visits, prescriptions and hospital visits.
Take advantage of the opportunities this program provides for Tennessee’s children and enroll.
For more information about CoverKids, please call 1-866-620-8864 or visit www.CoverKids.com.
Schedule required immunizations.
Back-to-school season means it’s time to make an appointment for your student to receive state-required immunizations.
This is especially important in light of the new immunization requirements adopted this year to better protect children from serious diseases that can spread easily in a school or pre-school setting.
Beginning July 1, children enrolling in child care, pre-school, kindergarten and 7th grade need additional vaccines and a new official Tennessee Certificate of Immunization.
Additionally, changes for new Tennessee college students go into effect in 2011.
A complete list of the new immunization requirements and information for parents and health care providers are available on the Tennessee Department of Health website at http://health.state.tn.us/CEDS/required.htm.
Start preparing our youngest Tennesseans.
Education is our state’s number one priority, and I’m proud Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K program has now expanded to all 95 counties.
Long term, this program is just as important as standards, community college or any of the other things we believe will yield even more immediate dividends.
Dollar for dollar, Pre-K is the single best investment we can make in the future of our children and not only gives children a head-start in school, but helps develop social skills that lead to success later in life.
I encourage parents and caregivers to enroll their four-year-old in a local Pre-K program. For more information, visit http://www.state.tn.us/education/prek/index.shtml.
Another program that prepares Tennessee’s youngest citizens is the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, which administers Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Together, along with a local affiliate in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties, the program encourages children to begin reading at an early age by delivering a new, age-appropriate, book to the home of every child registered each month from birth until their fifth birthday.
I have always believed books in the home are a signpost of children who will do well in school, and it’s never too early to start preparing your child.
More than 10 million free books have been delivered to Tennessee children since the program began in 2004, developing their vocabulary, school readiness and a love of learning.
Make a commitment to read with your child every day, starting at birth, at no cost to your family.
To register a child, visit www.governorsfoundation.org or call the foundation toll-free at 1-877-99-BOOKS.
Take advantage of other available programs.
Tennessee students can look for several new programs developed by “Clear the Air Tennessee” designed to educate students about air quality issues in our state and promote the SIMPLE driving habits that will help improve the air we breathe.
Programs like the “Mission Emissions” video contest and the “Tailpipe Terror” interactive online game have been designed for students in grades K-12 and are scheduled to launch early this fall.
I encourage students and schools to continue to participate in “Between the Barrels,” an award-winning program offered through our state’s high schools.
It delivers a powerful message of the importance of safe driving, especially in highway work zones, and more than 40,000 Tennessee high school students participated in a “Between the Barrels” presentation last year.
Students may visit www.tn.gov/tdot/wzsafety for more information.
Best of luck to all of Tennessee’s families in preparation for a successful school year.
If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other, please email me at email@example.com.