Business Roundtable Posts Documentary On TN Education Reforms

Press Release from the Tennessee Business Round Table; Aug. 9, 2011: 

NASHVILLE — In advance of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit to Tennessee this week, the Tennessee Business Roundtable today released a viral video on the Volunteer State’s standards-reform movement entitled, “Truth for a Change: Education Reform in Tennessee.”

The 16-minute documentary-style video — produced by the Business Roundtable with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — features interviews with more than a dozen state leaders and education-reform figures, including Gov. Bill Haslam, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The video also includes lawmakers, parents, teachers and business leaders from across Tennessee.

“Truth for a Change” can be found online at www.tennesseetruth.com and can be shared on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. The video was developed in association with leading Tennessee education-reform groups, including the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), Stand for Children, the Tennessee Business Education Coalition and Tennessee PTA.

“Tennessee is a national leader when it comes to raising standards and striving to make sure every student is ready for a career or college,” said Jim Powell, president of the Tennessee Business Roundtable and founder of the Powell Companies, of Johnson City. “We pleased to tell Tennessee’s story online with this new mini-documentary.”

“The statewide business community is proud of the collective work that’s been accomplished in Tennessee,” added Gregg Morton, president of AT&T Tennessee and vice president of the Business Roundtable. “We hope ‘Truth for a Change’ encourages policymakers, educators, parents, and students to stay the course on education reform.”

The new video’s title is a nod to the event that triggered Tennessee’s standards-reform movement — a 2007 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that gave the state a failing grade for “truth in advertising.”  At that time, the U.S. Chamber said Tennessee wasn’t adequately preparing students for the demands of career and college. In the years since, the state has put in place some of the most rigorous academic standards in the country.

Earlier this week, Secretary Duncan cited Tennessee as a national model for raising academic standards in K-12 public schools. Prior to standards reform, Tennessee claimed 91 percent of students were proficient in math. The reality, demonstrated after bringing standards in line with other states, was that only about one-third of students were proficient.

“That’s a very tough message,” Duncan said during a conference call with education reporters. “But guess what? It’s the truth.”

Tennessee’s new and higher standards took effect in the 2009-10 school year and served as the basis for the state’s winning bid in the national Race to the Top competition to spur education innovation. Other landmark reforms detailed in ‘Truth for a Change’ include policies to use student data to improve classroom instruction, reform teacher tenure rules and improve college completion.

In addition to showing ‘Truth for a Change’ online, the Tennessee Business Roundtable has limited quantities of DVDs available to civic organizations or other groups looking for education-related programming. For more information, email Cassie Lynn at: clynn@tbroundtable.org.