In March of 2013, I wrote about a possible education agenda for Tennessee. It was a plan based on issues I felt were not receiving adequate attention at the time. Each was chosen for the potential to have a measurable impact on outcomes.
Now, with a new governor and General Assembly, it seems a good time to check-in on these proposals and see where Tennessee stands.
The items I included were: Pre-K, new teacher mentoring, BEP funding improvements, and a significant increase in teacher pay.
We should expand the Pre-K program to serve all at-risk four-year-olds by 2017.
Ok, it’s 2019 and we’re still not there. This despite clear evidence (especially in Nashville) that quality early education works. Instead, the previous Lt. Governor worked hard to keep the Pre-K program from expanding.
Tennessee policy-makers should build and launch a new BEP formula in time for the 2015-16 academic year.
This hasn’t happened. In fact, Governor Haslam froze BEP 2.0 and created a system where per pupil spending was essentially flat during his time in office. You can’t move forward by standing in place. We need an investment of between $500 million and $1 billion to adequately fund our state’s schools.
Tennessee policy-makers should build a new teacher mentoring program and ensure every new teacher has a trained mentor by the 2016-17 academic year.
No, this hasn’t been done. Hasn’t been seriously talked about. Not on the horizon. Investing in early career support and development for teachers is not yet a priority of our state’s policymakers.
Tennessee policy-makers should raise the starting pay for all teachers to $40,000 and adjust the pay scale to improve overall compensation by the 2015-16 academic year.
It is 2019 and we are still not there. Many teachers in our state start teaching at salaries below $40,000 and many will teach a full career and never see a salary above $60,000. This is an unsustainable model and is already having an impact in districts across the state.
So, I still think these four items make up a solid education policy agenda for our state. What do you think? Teachers, what are your policy goals?
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