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Bredesen rallies business support for education reforms

From TBA Staff Reports
Governor Phil Bredesen told a group of 200 business and civic leaders today that education reform efforts are entering an "especially critical period" in Tennessee.

Speaking in Nashville, he noted that more and more jobs are located where human capital exists, not at transportation intersections, making the state’s Race To The Top effort especially important. The state’s business and civic community must take responsibility for maintaining that direction of change, Bredesen said, especially in the face of pressure expected to follow the elevation of educational standards.

Education Commissioner Tim Webb talked to the group about what to expect when test reports go out this week, some of which will show that 70 percent of students are below proficiency. Some urban schools will show that as few as 6 percent of their students are performing at proficiency level, he said. Some suburban schools, which thought they were doing a great job, will learn that only 55 percent of students performing at the reset standards.

In the past, Webb said, when state student test scores showed that 82 percent were performing at proficiency on the state test, only 23 percent were performing up to international standards. A revamp of the standards, with heavy involvement from the business and education community, is leading to this new level of accountability.

"It has been like we have been putting our students on the football field with the goal post at the 40 yard line and telling them what a great job they are doing at scoring," TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur said after attending the presentation to the Tennessee Business Education Coalition (TBEC), of which the TBA is a member. "The revamped standards have moved the goal post back to the end of the field so that our players (students), our coaches (teachers) and our fans (parents) know what it really takes to compete on a real playing field," Ramsaur continued.

TBEC is a coalition of more than 30 business and civic organizations that support the education reform effort. Learn more about the new standards at the TBEC website.

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