Margaret Spellings, former U.S. secretary of education and president of the Forum for Policy Innovation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, made stops this week in Nashville and Murfreesboro, speaking to more than 200 business leaders and legislators emphasizing the importance of the business community’s role in education reform. As Tennessee seeks to turn around its lowest-performing schools and implements the new teacher evaluation instrument, Spellings said we should be “pleased, but not satisfied” with the state’s progress. She said Tennessee should be commended for its successes in reducing the number of “dropout factories” from 58 to 19, but that hard work lies ahead to prepare our children to participate in the global economy.
Secretary Spellings referenced The Global Report Card
published by the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which highlights the math and reaching achievements of the average student in a public school district when compared to all students in the state, across the country and internationally. The report card paints a stark picture:
- Only 34% of students in Davidson County achieve at a higher level in math than their statewide counterparts.
- Only 59% of students in Rutherford County achieve at a higher level in math than their statewide counterparts.
- Nationally, only 27% (math) and 36% (reading) of students in Davidson County achieve at a level higher than students in a national group. In Rutherford County, only 52% (math) and 55% (reading) of students achieve at a level higher than students in a national group. When compared to an international group, these figures dip even lower.
Spellings challenged the business community to hold the state department of education, school districts, schools and educators accountable for student performance. Kevin Huffman, Tennessee’s commissioner of education, echoed that challenge and said the business community has shown real leadership in advocating for education reform and teacher accountability. He said that education is now a “results business,” and that Tennessee’s goal is to become the fastest-improving state in the country.
The events were made possible by several local, state and national partners: the Tennessee Business Education Coalition, Committee for Economic Development, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Business Roundtable and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education.
for photos from the event. Margaret Spellings, former secretary of education, visited Nashville and Murfreesboro to discuss the business community’s role in education reform. Legislators and business leaders listen to Spellings’ challenge to continue their work improving Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools.
Photos © 2012 Harry Butler, Nashville