The future of Tennessee lies with our children. And the future of our children is shaped significantly by our public schools and teachers.
We must fully and equitably fund our public schools and support our teachers to ensure that all kids, regardless of socio-economic background or ability, get the best education possible. We must make sure that our public school system lives up to the vision of Horace Mann, a pioneer of American public schools in the 19th century, that education be the “great equalizer” rather than a divider that advantages some while leaving others behind.
I support increasing funding for and innovation in public schools as we continue to find ways to improve educational outcomes for all our students.
Innovation includes making sure that all students have electronic devices and internet connection to continue their education at home during unprecedented times such as these. We must reduce the digital divide now and going forward to ensure all students have equal access to online and digital learning opportunities.
Effective innovations like the Knox County Community Schools model leverage community involvement and resources to help address challenges some students, families, and communities face outside of school – such as hunger, violence, and poverty – in order to improve the students’ focus and performance in school. Community Schools provide an equitable, community driven alternative to other reforms, such as private school voucher programs. Made in the name of innovation and choice, vouchers don’t live up to their hype, as they only benefit a few while leaving the most vulnerable students behind. I oppose vouchers and support repeal of the law authorizing Tennessee Education Savings Accounts.
We should also continue to innovate in our traditional curriculum as well as long-standing educational programs such as career and technical education (CTE) to ensure that they evolve in step with our rapidly changing globalized economy and workforce needs. Expanding and promoting career and technical education at all grade levels is one of my top priorities, as it will be crucial to ensuring our students have the skills they need for jobs of the 21st century.
Let’s work together – and innovate together – to ensure all our kids get the best education. They deserve it.