Last year, Tennessee made great strides to improve public education. State leaders worked tirelessly on behalf of our students by passing meaningful reforms like mutual consent and modifying outdated pension plans.
And for those that try to defend the status quo in education, Tennessee’s exceptional improvement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress provided further proof that meaningful education reform policies work.
And as Tennessee becomes a national example for reform, citizens across the state recognize that positive work is being done. In a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, 93 percent of Tennesseans said they want change of some kind to their public education system, and a majority of those indicated there should be major change.
StudentsFirst is ready to work with legislators on these important education issues and ensure the voices of parents and teachers are part of the conversation.
As we enter into another legislative session, we must press on. And in doing so, utilize the StudentsFirst State Policy Report as a resource.
Built on StudentsFirst’s experience, education research, and evidence from successful school districts, this report assess the performance of states in three critical areas, elevating the teaching profession, empowering parents and spending public dollars wisely.
While Tennessee improved its grade from last year and climbed in the national ranking, there is still much more the state can do to provide an education environment that sets all kids up for academic success.
As reflected by the report card, Tennessee can continue to build on progress by prioritizing the growth of high-performing charter schools through better authorization and more rigorous accountability, and expanding opportunities for low-income students in low-performing districts by creating a targeted scholarship program.
As the General Assembly prepares for another legislative session, everyone must play an active role. I encourage all Tennesseans to check out the StudentsFirst Policy Report Card and become active in the reform movement in your community. Reach out to legislators, share your personal stories and urge our leaders to pass the transformative reforms that will continue to lead Tennessee into the future.
The 2014 Tennessee State Policy Report Card can be viewed, downloaded and compared to other states on the StudentsFirst report card website at reportcard.studentsfirst.org.
Brent Easley, a Lebanon native, is Tennessee state director for StudentsFirst.