TREND Winter 2017/2018 - Page 24

special section: Karl Dean Thank you for taking the time to share with our educators today. On behalf of our members, I would like to say we are grateful you are offering yourself for Governor. Please share with educators a little about who you are, and why you are running for Governor. I am running for governor because I believe Tennessee’s best days are still ahead of us, but to get there we need to focus on the basic building blocks including public education, economic development and access to affordable healthcare to ensure a successful future for all Tennessee families. I was Mayor of Nashville from 2007-2015, prior to which I served as Nashville’s Law Director and Public Defender. I moved to Nashville in 1978 to attend Vanderbilt Law School, where I met my wife Anne. We have three grown children, and just this past Valentine’s Day welcomed our first grandchild. We made quite a few changes in public education in Tennessee the last decade - some necessary, some debatable. What are we doing right? We are clearly doing something right, as shown by our NAEP scores establishing Tennessee as the fastest improving state in the country. I believe much of that success comes from our dedication to higher standards for students and to an increased focus on teacher and principal development. The recent budget increases in education are also a definite step in the right direction and one that I have pledged to continue. Higher teacher pay will help us keep our best and brightest teachers in the classroom, transforming the lives of our youth. One example of a recent decision that will continue to reap benefits for Tennessee students is the state’s commitment to paying for high school seniors to retake the ACT. Historically, Tennessee students improve their composite ACT score by 1-3 points when they are afforded a second chance to take the test. Higher ACT scores enable our students to access quality post-secondary options through scholarships, such as the HOPE scholarship, and also provide them with the opportunity to enter college without taking remedial courses, allowing them a much better chance of post-secondary success. I wholeheartedly support efforts like this, which commit state funds in a way that directly benefits student outcomes. In your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges still facing education in Tennessee? The top three challenges facing education in Tennessee today are (1) insufficient funding, (2) a persistent opportunity gap for our most at-risk students and (3) teacher and principal recruitment and retention challenges. What are the steps that the state and local districts need to take to address the challenges you identified? What impact will that have on classroom teachers? As Mayor of Nashville, I made education my top priority, increasing the funding for Nashville schools by 37% and invested approximately $629 million in school buildings and other capital improvements across the school district. This is the sort of commitment we need at the state level, and Governor Haslam’s recent budget increases are a strong building block for that investment. The state needs to continue to increase education funding, to bring Tennessee to a place where lack of resources is no longer a barrier to student success or to teacher retention and recruitment. Districts need to do their part by making sure they are making smart fiscal decisions and are focusing