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Shared Victories Worth Celebrating

It’s important to say that we don’t accomplish anything alone. Together, we are a coalition — comprised of organizations and people from across Tennessee who lend their time, talent and voices in support of quality early education.  So for all you do for our children, thank you.  Together, we’re making a difference!

Here are some of our shared wins worth celebrating.

Together, we more than doubled the state’s budget for Evidence Based Home Visiting (EBHV) programs.

Together, we’ve secured nearly $60 million in additional funding for EBHV.  We believe strongly in these crucial programs where a professional social worker or nurse is sent to help struggling parents cope. Studies have repeatedly shown that these investments help strengthen parenting skills, reduce abuse and neglect, improve child and parent health, and get children ready for school. They’re also cost effective, with a return of up to $5.70 for every $1 spent due to reduced costs of child protection, K-12 special education and grade retention, and criminal justice expenses. In 2018 we persuaded the legislature to increase the EBHV budget for the first time in a decade (by $1 million), and then secured another $1 million increase in 2019.  Finally in 2020, the Governor Bill Lee administration effectively doubled the state’s evidence based home visiting budget – authorizing the Tennessee Department of Health to tap $14,052,600 annually (over 4 years – so $56 million total and hopefully recurring after 4 years) from the state’s unused appropriation of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. This is a huge win

Together, we protected Tennessee’s voluntary Pre-K program.

Because the results of a 2015 Vanderbilt study were broadly misinterpreted, many state policymakers mistakenly thought state’s Voluntary PreK (TN-VPK) program doesn’t work. Vanderbilt researchers originally confirmed that Tennessee children who participated in VPK are better prepared for Kindergarten, but confusion remained about whether the gains were sustained.  In 2019, in a new report, the same researchers clarified that the VPK children also maintain academic advantage over their non-VPK peers through 3rd grade as long as their K-3 teachers and schools are effective. For four years TQEE has had to fight hard to defeat legislation to siphon funds away from TN-VPK.  Now, armed with the clarifying study, we’re ready to go on offense again to expand the program, and improve K-3rd instruction too!

Together, we’ve started a movement to repair Tennessee’s broken child care system and stop Tennessee from forfeiting $100s of millions in federal child care funds.

It started with a first of its kind report: Want to Grow Tennessee’s Economy? Fix the Child Care Crisis,  produced by the TQEE team and sponsored by Chambers of Commerce and other business organizations across the state. It accelerated as we raised awareness with state policymakers that Tennessee has left $100s of millions in federal funds for child care on the table. And it  continues with legislation we’re sponsoring that would compel government to set a plan in place to increase child care access, affordability and quality and use federal child care dollars more effectively.

Together, we applaud 130+ mayors from across Tennessee who’ve joined forces in the fight for quality early education.

TQEE’s Mayors Coalition has taken off! The number is at 120 and growing quickly, and the mayors are engaging to support our early ed priorities.  15 mayors spent a full day with us in Nashville early this year at our Day on the Hill.  Some recently met with the governor and/or made calls to legislators from their districts in support of key legislation. Still others have shared video testimonials on social media as to the importance of early ed. These mayors are a growing force for support of our agenda for Tennessee’s youngest learners and we appreciate them!

We’re together, Tennessee! Republicans and Democrats are united in support of early education.

Our annual voter poll has made clear that early education has strong bi-partisan support in Tennessee.  Here’s a sampling of the numbers:

  • 91% agree that early education, from birth to third grade, provides the building blocks of all learning.
  • 89% want Pre-K expanded to all 4-year-olds
  • 91% want more investment in early literacy programs
  • 92% want more investment for math proficiency by 3rd grade
  • 91% support greater investment in social-emotional skills (“early workforce skills”) like taking turns, sharing, cooperating, problem solving and maintaining focus on a task.
  •  87% say child care has a major impact on a child’s readiness to be a good learner when they enter kindergarten, and 86% think it has a major impact on children’s long-term well-being and future job success.
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