Tara Scarlett, President and CEO of the Scarlett Family Foundation, this week joined a large and growing number of Tennessee leaders calling for greater focus on improving early education, birth through 3rd grade . In a guest column in the Tennessean, as well as in the Williamson Herald, Scarlett noted, “Low proficiency in third grade is a clear indication that the quality of children’s learning prior to third grade requires significant improvements.”
“Learning begins at birth. The brain develops more in the first 5 years than at any other time during a person’s life,” she noted.
Scarlett joins other business, civic and elected leaders from across Tennessee who have recently called for making early education a priority for the state. In the past 30 days or so we’ve seen calls to action from:
- Tara Scarlett, CEO, Scarlett Family Foundation, Williamson Herald, The Tennessean
- Kyle Spurgeon, CEO, Jackson Chamber of Commerce, Jackson Sun
- Dave Miller, President, First Tennessee Bank – East Tennessee Region, Knoxville News Sentinel
- Mile Burdine, CEO, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Kingsport Times News
- Nancy Dishner, CEO, Niswonger Foundation, Greeneville Sun
- Lesley Scearce, CEO, United way of Chattanooga, Times Free Press
- Representative Mark White, (R) Shelby County, Commercial Appeal
- And a multi-sector group of leaders assembled at the Chattanooga Chamber
As a member of the TQEE board of directors, Scarlett called attention to our policy priorities:
- Engaged and empowered parents. Parents are children’s first and most influential teachers. We advocate for policies that engage and empower parents through evidence-based home visiting programs, parent-teacher partnerships in child care and elementary schools, and school-community partnerships that expand families’ access to local resources.
- High quality, affordable child care. High quality, affordable child care is critical to support the 300,000-plus young children in Tennessee with working parents. Child care directly impacts current and future workforce development, as well as family economic stability. We back policies that set high standards for teaching, learning and outcomes, recruit and retain high-quality teachers, and anchor state reimbursement rates to actual cost of quality.
- Excellent early grades teaching. To boost student outcomes in third grade and beyond, instruction from pre-K to third grade must be better aligned with best practices and how young children learn. We support improved instructional materials, investments in training for early grades teachers and principals, and accountability for results.
- Stronger accountability and continuous improvement in early ed. Tennessee has limited statewide data on early learning from birth to second grade. To maximize investments in public education, Tennessee should commit to a birth-5 early learning data system, developmentally appropriate methods to measure and improve instructional effectiveness in pre-K to second grade, and better support for early grades teachers to use student data to improve learning outcomes.
By Mike, Lisa and the TQEE team