Monthly Column By Gov. Haslam

Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm

We’ve set a new goal in Tennessee – to be the fastest improving state in the U.S. when it comes to teacher pay.

We’re asking our students to be the fastest improving in the nation in education achievement, and the data is showing that we’re making real progress. 

Teachers are the single most important factor in student achievement, and higher accountability for teachers and proven results should be met with better rewards.

For far too long, our state has ranked near the bottom in educational achievement.  But the progress we’re making is measurable, and it comes from a lot of hard work, extra hours and more than likely money from our teachers’ own pockets for basic materials.

During our administration’s first years in office, the state has seen three consecutive years of growth in Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) results, including the largest TCAP gains in Tennessee history last year.

There are nearly 91,000 more students on grade-level in math and more than 50,000 more on grade-level in science than in 2010.  And Tennessee is only one of two states making double-digit gains in high school graduation rates. 

To me, one of the most fulfilling achievements is that the gap between low-income students and their peers is shrinking.

During the past three years in working with the General Assembly, we’ve increased education funding by more than $400 million, and we’ve committed $130 million in new, recurring funds for teacher salaries, meaning an average of $50,000 per year for Tennessee teachers.  In that time, the average teacher pay in Tennessee has improved at twice the national average.

We know that the jobs of the future are going to require a more highly educated, better trained workforce, so one of the most important things we can do is to ensure a highly trained teacher is in front of every classroom, and what we pay them matters. 

This is a long-term goal, and I think it is one of the most important ones we’ve taken on. 

We are committed to investing in our educators and working in partnership with the General Assembly and our local school districts to examine where we are every year, track our progress against other states and make investment decisions that will move Tennessee forward.

I look forward to making this goal a reality.  It will be good for our teachers, our students, and the future of education in Tennessee.

 

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