Education opportunities for Tennesseans continued to expand during this era.
The public education Tennessee offers its children improved during this time period. The amount of money spent per student grew from $336 per student in 1965 to $3,730 per student in 1990.
In the 1970s, public schools added kindergarten programs for young children. Salaries and the qualifications of teachers have also increased. Major improvements for teacher salaries were made in the 1980s because of Governor Lamar Alexander’s education policies.
Under Governor Don Sundquist, the state made an effort to connect every Tennessee school with high speed internet access by 1997. This gave state schools direct connection for more than 15,000 computers.
In 2002, the state general assembly passed a bill to allow charter schools to be opened in the state. These schools are a mixture of private/public school. They are run by private individuals with the approval of the state and receive public money. They usually are exempt from some state rules in exchange for providing better academic results.
Governor Phil Bredesen also made education a priority during his administration beginning in 2003. He explained, “I believe that we have an obligation to provide every Tennessean with access to quality education that will lead to a well-paying job.”
In addition, the state receives federal money for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. This money goes directly to schools and community groups working with children. For example, the Boys and Girls Club of the TN Valley in Knoxville received a $350,000 grant in 2008.
A voluntary pre-K program began in 2007 with 106 school systems. This was expanded to 300 systems the second year. The program offers in-class opportunities for four-year-olds, especially those from homes with lower incomes. Studies have shown that children who participate in high-quality early childhood education do better in school and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.
The Hope scholarship funds have made it possible for many Tennesseans, who might not been able to afford it otherwise, to go college. The funds come from the newly instituted state lottery, beginning in 2004. Students must have certain grade point averages and ACT scores in order to qualify for the scholarship. Once in school they have to maintain a certain grade point average.
To learn more about Tennessee schools today, visit here.
- Photograph showing a high school graduation. This photo was taken in Johnson City, Tennessee on May 30, 2009 by Angela Tchou. It shows the Science Hill High School Class of 2009 throwing their hats in the air after receiving their diplomas. Flickr.com.
- Photograph showing the use of technology in the classroom. This photo was taken in 2009 in Benton, Tennessee by photographer, “romm231sb.” It shows students at Benton Elementary School using video teleconferencing in order to communicate with other students from around the world. Flickr.com.
- Photograph showing the Youth of the Year. This photo was taken on April 2, 2008. It shows Governor Phil Bredesen presenting the 2008 Tennessee Boys and Girl’s Club Youth of the Year Award to Rasha’ Harvey. Several other participants are shown in the photo as well. Governor’s Office, State of Tennessee.
- Photograph taken during Health and Safety Day at the Thompson Lane Boys and Girls Club in Nashville in 2008. It shows a Vanderbilt Nursing Student instructing kids about healthy eating habits. Boys and Girls Club of Middle Tennessee.
- Photograph showing children on a summer hike. This photo was taken near Elizabethton, Tennessee in 2009. It shows the children from the local Boys and Girls Club crossing a wooden bridge. Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County.
- Photograph showing Governor Bredesen reading to preschoolers. This photo was taken on April 23, 2008. Teachers are also shown in the photo. Governor’s Office, State of Tennessee.
- Photograph of a charter school exhibit. This photo was taken by Larry Miller in 2009 in Chattanooga at the Education Expo. It shows staff from the Ivy Academy Charter School speaking others who are interested in the program. Flickr.com.
- Photograph of a classroom inside the Diploma Plus High School. The school is designed to encourage adult students to graduate. This photo was taken in Nashville in 2009. It shows seated students listening to an instructor. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.
- A pre-kindergarten teaching assistant Sheila Scarborough gives a high-five to one of her students at Kirkpatrick Elementary School in Nashville. The photograph was taken in 2007 by Jeff Adkins, courtesy of The Tennessean
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