Yesterday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam delivered his State of the State address, marking the sixth straight year in which he has emphasized education reform in his agenda. The Foundation for Excellence in Education (@ExcelinEd) applauds Governor Haslam for again prioritizing the needs of Tennessee students.
Education highlights in Governor Haslam’s remarks included:
- School Choice: A year after the passage of Tennessee’s Education Savings Account program for special needs students, known as the Individualized Education Act, Governor Haslam said the state’s commitment to quality educational options remains strong. “We’re not investing in the same old public education system in Tennessee,” the Governor said. “We’ve expanded education options for children.” A voucher program for low-income students in failing schools will be considered next Monday in the state House.
- K-3 Reading: Governor Haslam’s proposed budget provides $9 million for the Statewide Literacy Coaching and Intervention Initiative to help the school districts improve student reading by creating a network of district literacy coaches and regional coordinators. The budget also proposes $1 million for kindergarten screenings, allowing schools to identify and help struggling learners at the earliest possible opportunity. “Our students have shown incredible growth, but reading remains a challenging area that we have to get right,” Governor Haslam said.
- Standards and Accountability: The Governor highlighted Tennessee’s continuing commitment to high academic standards and rigorous accountability. New standards will be voted on by the State Board of Education in April, and the new TNReady assessments will be released throughout the 2015-16 school year.
- College and Career Readiness: “We are also proposing $10 million to fund the second round of Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) grants. Continued support for LEAP will mean more opportunities for communities to align the degree and course offerings with the needs of their local workforce,” Governor Haslam said.
Governor Haslam also highlighted the gains that Tennessee students have made in recent years. “In Tennessee our public schools have roughly 1 million students. Since 2011, 131,000 more students are on grade-level in math and nearly 60,000 more are on grade-level in science,” he said. “For the third straight year, Tennessee public high school students improved on their ACT. Our graduation rate has increased for the third year in a row and now stands at 88 percent.”
In all, the Governor’s budget proposal adds $261 million to public education, including $104.6 million in teacher pay raises.
We are grateful for governors and legislatures around the country – like Tennessee’s – that are embracing education reform and working to build a world-class education system.
Thank you for your continued support.
J. Alex Kelly
Vice President of Advocacy
The Foundation for Excellence in Education