37th in percent of public school eighth graders proficient or better in reading in 2007
*39th in estimated average salary of public school classroom teachers in 2009. (National average = $55,350/ Tennessee $46, 290)
*9th highest children living in poverty in 2008
^ 39th in child poverty
*41st in percent of public school fourth graders proficient or better in reading in 2007
*41st in percent of population graduated from high school in 2008
*41st in percent of public school eighth graders proficient or better in mathematics in 2009
*44th in books in public libraries per capita in 2007
*44th in percent of public school fourth graders proficient or better in mathematics in 2009
*23rd in per capita state and local government expenditures for education in 2007
* Morgan, Kathleen O'Leary and Morgan, Scott. CQ Press's State Fact Finder Series: State Rankings 2010. Washington, DC, 2010.
^United Health Foundation: America's Health Rankings 2010. No. 1 is best; No. 50 is worst.
State Budget Cuts and Children
In March 2010, Tennessee made it into the first round of finalists for the Race to the Top federal grant. If Tennessee wins this race, we could gain $500 million dollars in additional school funding to implement reforms to public education. Stand for Children, a grassroots lobbying organization for children, believes that Tennessee will win Race to the Top by capitalizing on its assets — a rich pool of data, a solid plan for revamped standards and assessments, involved STEM industries, a wide variety of local and national organizations willing to help, an expanded charter school law that can usher in innovation, and the full support of every local education agency, countless state organizations, the state teachers union, and all seven gubernatorial candidates.
We know, however, that these stimulus dollars — an unprecedented amount by the federal government — are not enough to guarantee school success. We must have excellent school leadership, an engaged public, involved parents, child-focused elected officials, adequate, sustainable school funding, and highly effective teachers in every classroom. As a “children’s union”, Stand for Children involves concerned citizens to ensure that children are a top priority when education policy and funding decisions are made.
The funding shortfall that the state must deal with will impact children. Stand for Children and the Tennessee Alliance for Early Education are working diligently to ensure that pre-kindergarten is preserved in the budget. We insist that pre-kindergarten remain a priority for the next Governor. All of the investments and reform efforts happening in our public schools won’t have maximum impact if our children enter kindergarten already behind. Our children are our sickest and poorest citizens. They can’t vote or lobby; we must do that for them.
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