The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) celebrated their 10th Anniversary of working to improve the future for Tennessee students on August 12, 2019. While we have not always agreed with some of the agenda at Professional Educators of Tennessee, we have never doubted their resolve or pursuit in improving public education in our state. We are glad to partner with them to improve the future for educators and help our students succeed.
As Chairman of SCORE, Senator Bill Frist should be commended and honored for his tireless advocacy and passion for making education a priority in our state. We are all better in public education because of his commitment to parents, teachers and especially students.
By advocating for many organizations including our own, Governors Phil Bredesen, Bill Haslam and now Bill Lee have all made education a priority in their administrations. However, SCORE’s insistence of doing what is best for students to achieve excellence for all has made the greatest impact on public policy in the state this decade. What has been significant has been consistent leadership at the organization, from former CEO and state senator Jamie Woodson to current CEO David Mansouri, who both shared Frist’s relentless drive in educating our students.
To prepare our children for the future, a student-centered education begins with an excellent teacher. SCORE has been pushing that envelope and playing a critical role in advancing student achievement in Tennessee. That is why our dialogue with SCORE continues to surround how to engage and empower educators to improve public education. Those who possess the knowledge about students must have input into the decisions.
We can and we must continue to have policy discussions and debates on improving public education. Marching in complete lockstep has never produced an original thought. We have to understand that public education must be completely committed to student success. Continued collaboration and a spirit of unity remain critical in creating a culture that truly values education.
Providing educators with resources and supports seem to be a foolproof means of making sure that student needs are met completely. In this area, we all can agree on the critical importance of an authentic teacher voice in policy discussions. One of the greatest weaknesses of public education, is our isolation in classrooms and in schools. Teachers need more opportunities for reflection and to develop connections beyond their own school walls or even districts. That is why membership in professional associations can play a critical role. The amplified voices of educators that are improving outcomes for students through innovative practices must be shared in our state, and we cannot do it alone.
One of SCORE’s strategic priorities is preparing, recruiting, supporting and retaining excellent teachers and leaders. There is no doubt that is often overlooked by policymakers at the state and local level. A school system cannot have high expectations for their students, without a high-quality teacher in their classrooms. This may prove difficult moving forward, as there are not enough qualified teachers applying for teaching jobs to meet the demand in all locations and fields. It will take forward-thinking for Tennessee to see our potential for the future. Simply put: better thinking equals better results.
Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing. Thank you to SCORE, Senator Frist and your team for your commitment to public education this last decade. We have much more work left to do. Together, educators and students across Tennessee will continue to climb higher and our state will rise to the top.
JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee.