CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – Governor Phil Bredesen says higher educational standards are necessary to providing a competent workforce in the future.
Comparing current education standards to a statewide disaster, Governor Bredesen told Chattanooga education, civic and business leaders "we need to come together on this."
"Raising standards in the classroom is the most important thing we can do to make sure students are career- and college-ready," said Bredesen, who co-chairs Achieve Inc., a national organization committed to high standards. "But higher standards mean harder tests, and maybe lower test scores in the short term."
Governor Bredesen admits it "will be uncomfortable at first," but says parents and educators need to "hang on to the original notion" of what higher standards mean in the long term.
According to the Governor, Tennessee's efforts to ratchet up academic standards in public schools began in 2007 when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave the state an 'F' for lack of high standards and assessments in the classroom.
"We are doing our children no favors by telling them they are proficient, only to be told the truth when they get to college," says the Governor.
Modeling the new higher standards off of states such as Massachusetts, Governor Bredesen says Tennessee students will be more competitive in the workforce.
Governor Bredesen pointed out that the time of graduating from high school and going straight to work for a factory no longer exists in the 21st Century. Noting that Volkswagen has the same expectations as a community college, Governor Bredesen said "We need to make sure students have those options available to them."
As part of the address, Governor Bredesen acknowledged the founding of the First to the Top Coalition, a statewide alliance of 30 businesses, community and education groups committed to education reform.
The First to the Top Coalition launched the "Expect More, Achieve More" campaign in July to help arm parents with the knowledge they need to understand the results and then to engage their child and seek assistance in increasing their academic performance.
First to the Top Coalition members:
Blount Education Initiative
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
Chamber of Commerce (Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County)
Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
Cornerstone Foundation of Knoxville
Hospital Alliance of Tennessee
Hyde Family Foundations
Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
Public Education Foundation
Public School Forum of East Tennessee
Stand for Children
State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)