Press Releases

New Wamp TV Ad Zeroes In On Early Education

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; June 17, 2010:

New Spot Begins Airing Statewide Friday

NASHVILLE – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for Governor, today announced details of his new television ad that focuses on improving education through his bold new early childhood reading initiative as outlined in his 20/20 Vision For an Even Better Tennessee.

Wamp’s new ad is now available for viewing on the campaign’s Web site at It begins airing statewide in every major media market Friday morning.

“Preparing our children to read for content by third grade is key to their long-term efforts and prevents them from dropping out of school,” Wamp said.

“Under my plan, we will benchmark every child’s reading skills when they get to Kindergarten. If they’re not reading at grade level and are at risk of falling behind, then we will give them special instruction and phonics to catch them up to their peers.”

Wamp often references education research that shows children who read well early perform well in school and later in life.

“Whatever schooling option parents choose – public, private, religious, magnet, charter or home school – basic reading skills and hard work are fundamental to a child’s academic success. Having books in the home and reading out loud to children can help them learn to read, imagine, create and write,” Wamp said.

“Reading skills are important to scholastic success, career success and lifetime learning. My early childhood reading initiative will be one of many steps I will take as governor to help prepare our children to read so they can succeed, no matter the career path they choose.”

In the new ad, Wamp discusses his 20/20 Vision’s early childhood reading initiative and how a more educated workforce directly translates into more jobs for Tennessee families and a stronger and more dynamic state economy.

ZACH WAMP: “I’m Zach Wamp. My 20/20 Vision is a bold plan to make Tennessee even better.

With a new focus on early childhood reading.

We’ll benchmark children in kindergarten. If they’re not reading well, they’ll receive special instruction in phonics to catch them up.

Because a good 3rd grade reader… becomes a better 8th grade student… a high school graduate… and a productive citizen.

A more educated workforce means more jobs for Tennessee. And the most dynamic economy in America.”

For more information about Zach Wamp and his campaign for governor, including his 20/20 Vision For an Even Better Tennessee, please visit the campaign online at


Haslam Not Fond of Defunding Pre-K

Rumor has it Capitol Hill Republicans might be eying the state’s early childhood education program for the economically disadvantaged as a place to potentially cut spending — or to downgrade it as a long-term budget priority.

But GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam believes that idea may be shortsighted.

“I would hate to see the Pre-K we have now cut,” he told reporters after touring Pre-K classrooms in Nashville Tuesday.

At the same time, Haslam isn’t prepared to jump headlong into the budget debate and start offering up specific ideas of his own where state government ought to scale back spending. He put forward little in the way of new suggestions for addressing the state’s budget problems — other than to say it doesn’t seem wise to dig too deeply into state government reserves, or rely too heavily on the federal government to bail the State of Tennessee out.

“While it’s not fair for me to say ‘don’t cut Pre-K’ without saying what I would, one thing I’d be really strong on is to say I don’t think we can keep taking from the rainy-day fund because we’re living off that so much — that and the stimulus plan — so much now. That would just make it that much worse next year.”

Gov. Phil Bredesen has proposed raising the sales-tax rate on expensive purchases to help plug a budget hole $105 million larger than anticipated.

Legislative Republicans staunchly oppose the tax increase. But they, too, have for the most part been unwilling yet to unveil any specific cost-cutting or revenue-boosting alternatives.

House Republicans earlier this week said they might be thinking about making changes to how the state’s preschool program for children of poor families is funded.

Republican Caucus Leader Glen Casada reportedly said the party might be considering funding the program with one-time money, which would fix the state’s immediate budget dilemma but push more problems into next year. However, neither the House nor Senate Republican caucus have release detailed plans for this year’s budget.

Marsha Edwards, CEO of the Martha O’Bryan Center in Nashville, said the state covers part of the cost of running the program at her facility. She said it costs the center $121,000 to run each of its three Pre-K classrooms a year. She said the state pays $65,000 and the center raises the rest.

“If it’s non-recurring and we can’t be sure that from year to year whether we’re going to have a Pre-K classroom, we can’t build anything of stability,” said Edwards.

The Martha O’Bryan Center describes itself as a multifaceted foundation that works with children and adults in poverty, aiming to transform their lives through work, education and employment.

A report released in March that was commissioned by the Tennessee comptroller’s office indicated that the benefits of the $86 million state-funded Pre-K program are probably short term and “tend to diminish over time.” By third grade little difference can be detected between low-income children who participated in the program and low-income children who did not.

“Pre-K participation is associated with small but reliable effects on student outcomes in Kindergarten and First Grade, primarily among economically disadvantaged students, although by Second Grade the difference between Pre-K students and a reasonably comparable group of non-Pre-K students is negligible,” according to the study, which was produced by an Ohio-based firm, Strategic Research Group.

“This report provides the first indication, however, that some positive effects associated with Pre-K participation may extend beyond the second grade, as one effect identified in previous reports did appear to persist into Third Grade. However, on the whole, the differences between Pre-K and non-Pre-K students in Grades Three–Five are negligible,” the report concluded.

Andrea Zelinski can be reached at