Education for Tennessee's Future

“Only a parent knows the best environment for a child’s learning. Curriculum should define the test; the test should not define the curriculum. And Tennessee parents and teachers should determine standards, testing, and curriculum for Tennessee Students, not the Federal Government.”

- Sen. Mark Green, MD

America was founded on the principle that all people have equal access to opportunity. Access to a great education is the means by which that equal opportunity occurs. But, like children, not all schools or school systems are alike. Nor is the particular environment of a traditional public school the best platform for every student.

In Tennessee, we have made significant improvements in our student performance on tests. Even better, our students are becoming better reasoning problem-solvers. But many students are still being left behind.

That is why I support opportunity scholarships for students attending struggling schools. I also believe parents should choose the best environment in which their student can learn. Alternate schooling methods that show themselves to be effective must be offered to all Tennessee students and parents.

Another foundational principal from America’s beginnings is local control of schools. Federal curriculum and federal standards are an affront to the Constitution of the United States. While we need comparative analytics to evaluate the effectiveness of our instruction, we do not need political ideology inserted into our classrooms. We must keep Common Core out of Tennessee.

Finally, there is a human tendency to teach to the test. As a physician, I’ve taken a lot of tests in the course of training. While having a teacher teach the test always seemed like a great idea at the time, it did me an injustice. Elements of the curriculum often get left out in these situations. Our educational system must focus on the curriculum and not the test.

Most importantly, our educational system has to reward teachers who exceed expectations. Just as we reward student performance, it is critical we recognize the teachers who take students farther. A robust teacher bonus system is critical to continued improvements in Tennessee Education.