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Governor Bredesen’s education initiative

E-mail from State Representative Jim Hackworth’s office urged me to read the proposals that Governor Bredesen presented to the General Assembly yesterday (here’s the press release) and give him my views. Education is not one of the topics I typically contact my legislators about, but the governor’s proposal to transform the state’s education system has gotten my attention, so I wrote to Rep. Hackworth about a couple aspects of the proposal:

The state’s education system is embarrassingly poor — and it’s in everyone’s interest to improve it. (Not only does it limit the next generation’s horizons as individuals, but it hurts the whole state economically.)

Tennessee’s kids aren’t stupid, but too many of them are not learning effectively. I think that a large part of the problem is that our citizens as a whole do not place high enough value on education. A new government program can’t overcome that attitude problem “overnight” (or even in 5 years). However, measures to reward teachers for their effectiveness in helping kids learn (regardless of where the kids are educationally when they arrive in the classroom) seem promising as a way to increase the effectiveness of our education system. Go for it!

Additionally, I share the governor’s view that our state colleges and universities are letting bureaucratic jealousies get in the way of educating our young adults effectively. If his plan forces them to coordinate and collaborate, it’s worth a try.

People will get hung up on many of the details of implementing these transformational initiatives (and there’s good reason to get hung up on some of those details), but it makes sense to commit to these major policy changes quickly (to qualify for the federal incentive) and hassle the details later.

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