published Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Glover: EDUCATION REFORM: State's economy is tied to Common Core

By Catherine Glover

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry believes that the quality and availability of a skilled and ready workforce is vital for Tennessee's economic success. We hear this concern often from the businesses we serve.

One of the most certain ways to accomplish success with workforce preparation is to comprehensively prepare students for careers -- for the world of work. In order to equip our students for the real-world skills necessary to support business, we need to help them master the skills that businesses need, while also providing them with valuable life skills.

These skills are basic and include: reasoning, problem-solving, the ability to write, to work in a team and to be able to apply this knowledge at the workplace.

Tennessee's Common Core State Standards emphasize real world skills, providing our students with the necessary foundation to build a strong future. Common Core is one solid step toward remedying the issues our employers face when it comes to finding a skilled workforce. When compared with students from other states, our students consistently rank near the bottom in proficiency in key subject areas, and only 32 percent of Tennesseans have earned an associate's degree or higher. We must do better. Improving student outcomes and raising education attainment levels will encourage success in the eyes of companies seeking a motivated and work ready, workforce.

Let's not forget the recent manufacturing report by Ball State University's Center for Business and Economic research which gave Tennessee's workforce a "D" ranking. This is a ranking that can drag down our overall appeal as a state, to investors, and to business expansion.

It's essential that Tennesseans enforce academic rigor and content, ensuring that students graduate from high school better prepared for the future, and assisting Tennessee in positioning itself as THE place to be in business.

Tennessee has a solid footing and numerous advantages when it comes to economic and community development, from having no income tax and being noted by industry as having a business-friendly environment, to being centrally-located, and being home to several booming, multi-national corporations. But, being noted as a state with a poor overall workforce will negatively overcome so much good.

The state's leadership are being proactive in resolving the workforce crisis. Under the leadership of prior administrations, and with the bipartisan support of Gov. Bill Haslam and the General Assembly, the state put into place the foundation for an evaluation system that ensures educators receive timely feedback and have support to improve their practice.

Haslam and Tennessee's education commissioner, Kevin Huffman, implemented this system by first listening to our greatest resource -- teachers. It is for the respect of these valued educators that Haslam and the General Assembly have added $130 million in recurring spending to teacher salaries over the last three years, compared to a combined $22 million added in the four years prior.

In fact, the state's overall investment in K-12 education has been growing. In 2012, Tennessee had the second largest increase in state K-12 expenditures of all 50 states.

As part of our commitment to education and workforce development, The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry started the Tennessee Scholars program 10 years ago, with the impetus of increasing the percentage of Tennessee high school graduates that are prepared for post-secondary education, the workforce, or the military.

Since 2010, 91,000 more students are proficient or advanced in 3rd-8th grade math, and 52,000 more students are proficient or advanced in third-eighth grade science. The success of the Scholars program proves more stringent standards can be met, and students are up to the challenge. Additionally, Tennessee is only one of two states making double-digit gains in high school graduation rates.

It is through the dedication of our state leadership, Haslam, Commissioner Huffman, the General Assembly, the state board of education and the business community that I believe we will be successful in qualifying a highly skilled, ready workforce to serve the needs of businesses in Tennessee, and to ensure a rich and successful economy for our state.

Catherine Glover is president of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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TheCommander said...

Just when I asked the question about where the Chamber of Commerce has been in the paper lately, they raise their ugly heads!! At a time when Cleveland, Bradley, Utilities, and other counties and municipalities are announcing that they are raising taxes, fees and rates The Chamber went underground. Now that Obama is coming to town, they come out to tout their work on job creation.

Now we see they are pushing Common Core hard here in Tennessee. I can spout off on Common Core for pages but I will not waste time.

One thing I will say: Catherine Glover completely LIED in this statement:

"Haslam and Tennessee's education commissioner, Kevin Huffman, implemented this system by first listening to our greatest resource -- teachers."

I know of NO teachers who are for this. I have never seen a teacher ever write a defense of this system in the media and you never will. Teachers are fleeing the profession because of NCLB and now Common Core. This is exactly what this system is designed to do: drive out teachers and replace them with classroom facilitators. Reduce education to mere workforce development.

July 25, 2013 at 8:59 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

The Chamber and education in general is more interested in producing robotic cogs-in-the-wheels of corporations and military conquest (or is that redundant?) than thinking, self-sufficient adults with careers and choices of their own. Either cannon fodder or corporate career fodder of slaves to the special interests of politicians and corporations. Reminds me of the great movie Metropolis.

It's difficult to find the dividing line between military actions and corporate interests.

Time to wear sabots again.

July 25, 2013 at 6:19 p.m.
TheCommander said...

I can't believe there are so few comments on this piece by the Chamber. Teachers are in an uproar because they have reduced the number of step raises from over 20 down to 4. Yet I guess people haven't found the direct link between this action and Common Core yet. I haven't either yet but I will keep trying. In general, Common Core does not require teachers. All it really needs are untrained classroom managers to run the DVD player and push "Next" on the lap top. The selling point is that it is "real world" learning. I can't believe we are going to turn our children into good corporate citizens in the 1st grade. We will raise a whole generation of kids who will never have a chance to be kids because they will be fed a steady diet of sustainability and ecological hysteria right from pre-k onwards. BTW, I think I am going to go back and watch Metropolis again. That is a great one.

July 26, 2013 at 9:22 a.m.
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