Back to School in Tennessee

Do you remember when Labor Day marked the start of the school year? Not anymore! Students across Tennessee have already been in school for just over a month and that’s both good and bad.

The good news is that our state has thousands of great teachers who are working hard to make sure kids are ready for college and career. Last school year, public schools had a graduation of 89.1%, a new state record. The bad news is that recently released data shows that our state still has a LOOOONG way to go. According to the Tennessee Department of Education, fewer than one-third of students across the state are proficient in English-Language Arts. You might wonder, how can the graduation rate be so high but reading proficiency be so low? That’s a great question and one you should ask your local school board.

I did, however, find more good news on my statewide tour. I met parents in Memphis who are “fired up and ready to go” when it comes to seeking quality options for their kids. I learned of a new charter school in Chattanooga where the mission is “building the men of tomorrow.” I’ve been introduced to a school in an underserved part of Nashville that emphasizes academic, social, and emotional growth.

What binds these stories together? Parents and community members who could not wait for incremental change but instead pushed the pace to ensure access to a better future. Those are the stories we hope to share with you each month. I also believe that with bold, parent choice legislation in 2019, these isolated incidents will grow into a Tennessee story.

Best regards,

Shaka Mitchell
AFC-TN State Director