Finney Proposes Regional West TN Summit Linking Jobs, Education

Press Release from Jackson Democratic State Senator Lowe Finney, Feb. 8, 2011:

JACKSON – State Senator Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) is calling for a West Tennessee education summit that includes leaders from area schools, businesses and government to talk about what lies ahead for education and economic development in Tennessee.

“We talk a lot about the important link between education and jobs, but rarely are our education and business leaders sitting at the same table,” Finney said. “It’s time to start having these conversations face-to-face so that we can create partnerships and solutions.”

The summit is designed to discuss the changing education landscape in Tennessee and the expectations that parents, teachers, community leaders and local officials should have of ongoing education reforms. Tennessee was awarded more than $500 million in Race to the Top education funds last year, with at least half of those funds going directly into local school districts.

“Since this time a year ago, Tennessee has received significant federal education funding; we have expanded the number of charter schools; and we have overhauled our standards for statewide testing benchmarks,” Finney said. “We are in a period of remarkable change, but we must ensure that our work pays off for our students, our teachers and our employers.”

Recent legislative proposals regarding teachers and local school system administration are further indicators of the need for better communication among education and community stakeholders, Finney noted. Finney is speaking with business owners, K-12 and higher education administrators, local lawmakers and neighborhood leaders to design and schedule the summit, which will take place in the coming weeks.