Nashville, TN (2009-12-30) The Tennessee General Assembly will convene in a Special Session on Education in January. State Senator Ken Yager, a freshman legislator from Harriman, is looking forward to the Session and wants to put education first in 2010. While lawmakers have other important issues for the upcoming session, including the budget, jobs and the economy, Senator Yager believes the Special Session can be conducted efficiently and expeditiously to help move educational achievement forward in Tennessee.
“If there are additional dollars that we can access by moving timely during a Special Session, we certainly need to look at those proposals,” said Senator Yager. “I look forward to looking at the details soon. Hopefully, we will move forward on education reforms that will make a positive impact on education in our state.”
Governor Bredesen told lawmakers last week that the state must adopt legislation to conform to the Race to the Top requirements by January 19, 2010, to qualify. The program provides competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are implementing significant reforms in the four education areas: enhancing standards and assessments, improving the collection and use of data, increasing teacher effectiveness and achieving equity in teacher distribution, and turning around struggling schools.
The action would enable Tennessee to receive a portion of the $ 4.3 billion in federal funds set aside for states that meet reform guidelines.
Yager said the General Assembly is also expected to deal with legislation during the Special Session regarding graduation rates at Tennessee’s colleges and universities. Some of the legislative topics expected to be debated regarding higher education during the Special Session include:
· Requiring the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to establish a funding formula based substantially on performance and outcomes
· Requiring the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the University of Tennessee (UT) to establish a statewide transfer agreement between all two- and four-year colleges and universities
· Eliminating remedial instruction at all four-year universities
· Requiring TBR and UT to establish dual admission and dual enrollment policies at all two- and four-year colleges and universities
“Improving education in Tennessee is a number one priority of mine,” added Yager. “It has powerful ripple effect on so many positive changes for our state, including economic prosperity.”
The General Assembly is expected to begin its work on January 12, 2010.