Varieties of Ice Cream and Education Savings Accounts Make Logical Sense


January 30, 2017 10:46AM

I think most people generally have some clear opinions on which grocery stores they prefer over others. Some, like myself, have been known to drive a bit farther to shop at a store that doesn’t make me feel so anxious, crowded, or pressed for time at the checkout line. For others, expediency may trump those considerations. It’s all a matter of taste. But what happens when your coveted grocery store with all the feels doesn’t stock one or two high-priority items on your list that the somewhat less desirable grocery store carries?

For me, the answer has been “go to both.” Such was the dilemma I faced while shopping for supplies in Publix a few months ago. Ice cream might be the most important item on my list and also the hardest to find. In fact, my love for ice cream fostered a years-long search for a replacement that comes close to the real deal, after being told I can no longer have dairy products. However, after finally finding a suitable stand-in, I’ve realized that it’s not a standard item sold in most stores and Publix, my preferred grocery store, doesn’t carry it.

In the car on my drive from Publix to Kroger, I began to think about how this trivial dilemma mirrors a serious, fundamental challenge that some Tennessee parents face on a daily basis when navigating their child’s education. While Kroger generally has everything on my grocery list, I simply prefer the Publix shopping experience (and Publix also has the better fake cheese). Thus, I must make another trip sometime during the week to Kroger for the must-have ice cream. Similarly, our public schools generally may provide all the services a child would need for their education. Yet, we know that some children have needs that can’t be fully met in a one-size-fits all model. Perhaps they have learning challenges or accelerated learning abilities that don’t integrate well within their current structure. Maybe their zoned public school is meeting almost every need they have, but the child still needs access to alternative options in one or two critical academic areas.

The answer doesn’t always have to be one or the other – Publix or Kroger, private or public school. Sometimes the answer is both or all.

In the coming days, we will be filing broad education savings account (ESAs) legislation with the Tennessee General Assembly because children deserve the opportunity to find their fulfilling, dairy-free ice cream flavor of education that meets their individual needs – even if it means finding it through hybrids of public, private, online, trade school, homeschool, or tutoring. Teachers and schools can be providers in the program, parents can sit in the drivers’ seats of charting the educational maps, and students can finally find the satisfaction and positive impact of a customized learning environment.

If you’re a lawmaker, parent, teacher, school administrator, or simply someone who believes that government zip codes should no longer restrain a child from accessing the education that best addresses his or her unique needs, contact us about joining our fight for education savings accounts in 2017.