NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Governor Bill Haslam announced he will visit members of his Teacher Cabinet in their schools this school year. It's all in an effort to continue to keep the lines of communication open between classrooms and the Capitol.
In previous years Haslam has traveled the state to sit down and hear from educators across Tennessee. As part of this effort he also meets quarterly with his 17-member Teacher Cabinet to hear real-time information from the classroom and feedback on policy considerations, including educator support and preparation, assessment, teacher evaluation, response to intervention implementation and the state standards review process.
Haslam kicked off this year’s “Capitol to the Classroom” visits on Thursday in Mrs. Karen Vogelsang’s third grade class at Winridge Elementary School, part of the Shelby County Schools in Memphis. Vogelsang was the 2015 Tennessee Teacher of the Year.
“Tennessee is the fastest improving state in the country thanks to the hard work of our teachers and students, and we’ve followed up the success we’re seeing in the classroom by making record investments in our schools, including the largest investment ever without a tax increase in this year’s budget,” Haslam said. “We are asking more of our teachers and students, and they are delivering in a big way.”
The teacher cabinet, nominated by directors of schools and chosen through an interview process, includes a diverse mix of backgrounds and experience. Members represent each of the state’s three grand divisions as well as cities, suburbs and rural areas and have varying years of experience teaching first through 12th grades.
In October 2015, Haslam announced that Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the nation since 2011 according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress commonly known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” Tennessee also rose to the top half of states in fourth grade math, ranking 25th – the first time Tennessee has ever ranked in the top half of states in any subject or grade.
The 2016-17 state budget includes $258 million for K-12 education, the largest investment without a tax increase in Tennessee’s history, including more than $100 million for teacher salaries, nearly $30 million to fund the 12th month of insurance for teachers, and $15 million for recurring technology funds for schools – an amount that doubles the state’s current investment and addresses concerns related to devices, infrastructure and instruction.