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Senate Dems Attack Campfield, Say He’s Out of Touch on Pre-K

Press Release from Senate Democratic Caucus; Aug. 18, 2010:

Campfield at Odds with East Tennesseans’ Support of Early Childhood Education

KNOXVILLE – In repeatedly making erroneous and misleading comments about Tennessee’s highly successful pre-K program, Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), the Republican nominee for State Senate District 7, has proven himself out of step with the community he wants to represent and the colleagues he hopes to join.

“Representative Campfield seems to have little to no idea what pre-K programs do, how they are funded or their role in education,” said Sen. Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga), Secretary of the Senate Education Committee and a member of the Joint Committee on Education Oversight. “His opposition to pre-K shows a lack of interest in how we bring jobs to Tennessee in both the short and long run.”

Campfield has long been an opponent of the pre-K program, which has proven highly successful in preparing students for early elementary school classes. The program is supported by The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Tennessee Business Roundtable, and the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce features pre-K in publications encouraging people to move to the city.

The reforms and strategies implemented through the state’s successful pre-K program were also crucial to Tennessee winning $501 million in federal education Race to the Top funds.

Campfield attacked pre-K in an August 15 entry on his blog, erroneously claiming that Gov. Phil Bredesen “continues to raid the lottery scholarship fund to pay for a program that has repeatedly proven to be without long term value. The pre K program.”

Campfield apparently failed to pay attention while voting for the budget, which provides that pre-K is paid for entirely out of the state’s general fund. Instead, he writes erroneously that, “the governors (sic) Pre K program … continues to be funded by the lottery scholarship fund.”

But Campfield doesn’t just get the facts wrong about pre-K and education. He continues to hold a position contrary to that of his Knoxville-area Republican colleagues in the Senate, including Sen. Jamie Woodson, who is listed as a champion of pre-K expansion by advocacy group pre[k]now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States.

“Senator Jamie Woodson is [then-]Chair of the Education Committee and a rising leader of the Tennessee General Assembly,” states preknow.org. “Her support for the sizable pre-k expansions of 2005 and 2006 are widely credited with helping the initiatives become reality.”

Sen. Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) has also shown his support for pre-K, saying in a pre[k]now publication that early education programs in his district were in heavy demand. Sen. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), as chair of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee, has overseen the passage of four budgets including pre-K since 2007.

Even Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam, Knoxville’s mayor, has said he supports the continued funding of pre-K, especially in his home county.

“I would hate to see the pre-K that’s in place now cut, because I think you do have some very effective models, and this is one of them,” Haslam told TNReport.com in an April 27, 2010 report.

The overwhelming support for pre-K from business interests and his Knoxville Republican colleagues doesn’t seem to affect Rep. Campfield’s position. Instead, Campfield has repeatedly ignored his mistakes about the issue and has even lashed out at sitting senators.

“For Representative Campfield, it’s easier to get the facts wrong and argue than hear from community leaders on critical matters like education,” Berke said. “I worry that when we face tough choices in the future, Stacey Campfield just isn’t going to take the time to listen to anyone but himself.”

Knoxville businessman Randy Walker is the Democratic nominee opposing Campfield in District 7. He supports early childhood education and wants to continue the successful pre-K program established by Gov. Phil Bredesen.

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Children in 52 Tennessee Counties Receive Free Books Thanks To $100,000 Donation

Press Release from the Appalachian Regional Commission, March 15, 2010:

Donation by Appalachian Regional Commission allows books for more than 185,000 children in Appalachian Tennessee

NASHVILLE, TENN.– More than 185,000 children in Middle and East Tennessee counties will have the chance to develop their vocabulary, improve school readiness and grow a love for reading after a generous donation by the Appalachian Regional Commission, with assistance from the East Tennessee Development District. The $100,000 donation will be matched by the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) to ensure that free, high-quality, age appropriate books are sent each month to registered children in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.

In Appalachian Tennessee counties where the percentage of high school graduates can be as low as 50 percent, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation hope this investment will prep children in those counties to be more prepared when they enter Kindergarten and thus, prepare them for future success in their education.

“This is an excellent program; preparing children for success in an increasingly competitive global economy in which strong reading skills are essential,” says Louis Segesvary with the Appalachian Regional Commission. “If you start school behind, then you stay behind. But we want Appalachian children to get ahead of the learning curve, and this program helps them do just that.

Currently, 58 percent of all Tennessee children ages 0-5 are registered in the Imagination Library and are receiving free books in the mail. More than 164,000 Tennessee five-year-olds have already “graduated” from the program. The statewide program has helped deliver more than 9.6 million books to Tennessee children since the creation of the GBBF in 2004.

Created in 1996 by Dolly Parton as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., the Imagination Library mails a new, age-appropriate, high-quality book every month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to the family, regardless of income. Just $24 annually provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. This cost is split evenly between a non-profit sponsoring organization in every Tennessee county, and a state budgetary allocation administered by the GBBF.

Counties receiving funding include: Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Cannon, Carter, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Lewis, London, McMinn, Macon, Marion, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Sullivan, Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Washington and White. For specific county information, please contact Jill Gorin at Jill.Gorin@tn.gov or (615) 253.4349.

About the GBBF:

The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation® was established in 2004 by Gov. Phil Bredesen and currently serves Imagination Library organizers in all 95 counties by providing fund-raising, public relations, and other support.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission:

ARC’s mission is to be a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multi-county local development districts.

To learn how to support your county’s Imagination Library program, or for information on how to register a child for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or call toll-free, 1-877-99-BOOKS.