Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday 12/09/06

From here and there--

Bredesen's legacy target: Comprehensive pre-K--

He may devote about $25 million more to continue to expand pre-K in the state’s next budget.

“That would get us to a comprehensive pre-K program by the end of my time as governor,” Bredesen said, “which I would consider a great legacy.” (snip)
But their older brothers and sisters--

The governor wants to add truancy officers in all of the state’s 400 public high schools to improve attendance and, hopefully, result in more high school students graduating.

Adding those positions would cost more than $16 million annually, which Bredesen isn’t 100 percent confident the state can fully afford in its next budget. City Paper

Attendance does not equal education. As I've said many times before--these pre-K children have time yet but there are thousands of near adults leaving the system frustrated and lacking basic skills every year and for too many that directly leads to criminal behavior that endangers us all. THAT's where the focus needs to be. We can't just consider them lost causes and turn our backs on them in favor of toddlers. The mantra 'for the children' usually conjures up images of those cuddly small ones but those high school drop outs are still children too.

We'd save more than $350M I'm sure--
The Alliance for Excellent Education, based in Washington, D.C., estimates that if all Tennessee high school students graduated, the state government would save $350 million a year. The project was funded by the MetLife Foundation and is based on evidence that high school graduation is an essential element in upward mobility. (snip) The savings, calculated for each state, is based on a dropout's utilization of Medicaid and other public expenditures. Tennessee has made huge strides in graduation rates, raising it from 59 percent in 2001 to about 64 percent today. But that's still behind the national average of about 74 percent. Memphis Business Journal
[Hamilton County Mayor Claude] Ramsey said Loftis, as the lobbyist for Hamilton County Schools, has met with the governor, education commissioner, state senators and representatives.

He added "Governor Bredesen says it's a positive thing. He agrees with us, or the four large counties, that we're getting short changed and he's going to make some changes."

While no one disputes Loftis' work has been good for schools it was made public recently that he never registered as a lobbyist with the Tennessee Ethics Commission. (snip)

Tennessee Ethics Commission records show Loftis registered as a lobbyist for Hamilton County Schools last Thursday. WTVC Chattanooga
Core Curriculum--
“A lot of us struggle not with finding a warm body, but a warm body that comes to work every day,” said Gary Dies of Saia-Burgess Automotive Actuators Inc. “When you get [workers] below about 32, there’s a substantial difference in attitude, willingness to take responsibility. There’s a huge gap.” (snip)

There are a number of trends that could be contributing to the decline. Zinkiewicz points first to rising teenage unemployment levels, brought about by more older workers, welfare recipients and immigrants competing for jobs in industries like retail and fast food that were traditionally good places for teens to get their first jobs. (snip)

Herrman said Metro Schools recently received a six-year, $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education that, in part, takes measures to incorporate soft skills into the curriculum by decentralizing and personalizing Nashville’s eight largest schools, which all have at least 1,000 students. City Paper

KY Special Need scholarships--

In Kentucky, a prefiled bill [BR 98] by Lexington Rep. Stan Lee [R-Lexington] would not only make the commonwealth the fifth state to offer such scholarships, it would also be the Bluegrass State’s first statewide school-choice program controlled by parents.

State law currently allows special-needs students to attend schools providing educational services not available in their resident district schools. However, this system is largely ineffective and relatively few students participate because school districts – not parents – control the process. Edpresso

If just 1 percent of Kentucky’s special-needs children – roughly 1,100 students – could have participated in the proposed scholarship program in 2005, state and local school districts would have realized an estimated savings of $5.7 million. Ed News
I hope some Tennessee legislators will consider following suit.

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