Frist releases plan to improve schools

Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 11:46am

Bill Frist released his task force’s report on improving Tennessee schools Thursday, calling for the state to become No. 1 in education in the Southeast in the next five years.

Frist’s Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) issued findings from nearly 60 town hall meetings across the state and conferences in Nashville involving stakeholders in education.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve Tennessee schools,” Frist said.

Tennessee ranks 41st in the country on national student achievement tests—ahead of only Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi in the Southeast. But Frist said Tennessee can jump to the top by following his plan.

“It’s an ambitious goal and it’s a challenging goal because we’re among the worst in the Southeast,” the former senator told a news conference. “But these are doable things.”

The report makes 60 recommendations, many of which long have been on the wish lists of education reformers. But the plan is short on suggestions for implementation and dodges political disagreements. It shies away from funding issues and other controversies. Notably, it takes no sides on the question of whether to expand the state’s pre-kindergarten program to all children. Gov. Phil Bredesen has made that one of his main education goals, but Republicans oppose it.

House Democratic Caucus chair Mike Turner pointed out “a lot of the things we’re talking about in this plan are obvious.” But he added, “Maybe Senator Frist is a man with the stature to pull this off. … Try not to pick this plan apart.”

Among the report’s recommendations:

•       Require all principals to receive an annual performance evaluation.

•       Allow all school districts to use administrative law judges to settle tenured teacher dismissal proceedings.

•       Directly link tenure decisions to teacher effectiveness data. This may require a rethinking of the current tenure time frame and structure.

•       Launch a three-month task force to develop a comprehensive plan for how all students in the state can be given access to low-cost online courses, especially courses that meet the new high school graduation requirements.

Filed under: City News

7 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 10/22/09 at 11:01

Does Frist want a Nobel Peace Prize? He every chance to do whatever it took while he was majority leader to help correct the educational system. He was nothing but a "yes" man to Bush/Cheney. Too litle, too late! We need someone to come in that really konws about education, and so far, I haven't seen that person.

By: bccoolj on 10/22/09 at 12:05

How 'bout we let him at least offer a solution to reform the system? If he's truly genuine about reform, then winning some prize, as pswindle mocks, won't make a difference. Maybe he was or maybe he wasn't a 'yes' man while in Congress. Or, maybe he did try to make changes while in Congress; he was only 1 senator trying to convince 99 others and couldn't pull it off.

Regardless, anyone, big fish or small, rich or poor, politics or no politics, is welcome to come up with the solution. Even you, pswindle, could come up with a solution just as good as me or Mr. Frist. But, you gotta try first.

By: idgaf on 10/22/09 at 12:06

Want a cure read Thomas Sowell's The State of Education in America where he identifys the problems and solves them with little or no money.

These politicians are full of crap.

By: idgaf on 10/22/09 at 12:07

Better yet lets try to hire him as educational "Czar" , they seem to be in vouge now. :)

By: sickofstupidity on 10/23/09 at 7:04

Mr. Frist:

How are you going to force urban kids to learn and behave in our schools if they don't want to? How are you going to motivate parents who could care less about their child's education? Teach the ones that want to learn and to **** with the rest.
And while you are at it, quit ruining good schools by busing kids into neighborhoods where decent families and kids value education.

By: pswindle on 10/23/09 at 2:43

If discipline is not maintained, there will no learning. When teachers and principals had the authority to make the students behave, learning took place. But when that was taken out of their hands, the learning scale started downward.

By: courier37027 on 10/25/09 at 4:59

Quick solution: make education non-compulsory. Some kids simply don't want to be there, become distractions for those who want to learn and are nothing more than babysitting work for teachers.

For those who stay in school, your parents will be charged a user fee, tuition, value added revenue enhancement fee, whatever you want to call it. Tuition money collected will be used at actual school building, and not sent to school administration central office. With tuition payments parents will become interested in their child's education, since this is hitting parents directly in wallet.

Teachers' union members will not be hired. Teachers will be paid commission based on test scores, students passing to next grade or graduating.