Education is the key to Tennessee's future. We need an education system that provides our students with the skills they need to compete and succeed in life. Every child is entitled to the opportunity for a quality education that teaches the fundamental skills needed to compete in a global economy.
The dropout rate of Tennessee's high school students is a crisis that we must solve. Without an educated workforce, we cannot compete nationally and America can't compete in a global economy. Research confirms that those who lack a high school education will have significantly diminished lifetime earnings, creating increased social costs as well.
Policy makers in Washington have tried to improve our schools by increasing their control over federal funding. Parents, teachers and local school board officials must have greater flexibility and reduced regulation with the use of these federal funds. The emphasis of our education system must be placed on the child, not on federal educational mandates from Washington. I support reforms in our education system that will shift decision making away from Washington bureaucrats and to those who know children best - local leaders and parents. That is why I voted in favor of H.R. 2117, which repealed many over-reaching regulations of the Department of Education.
We must begin to judge the success of our schools by the results we obtain, not the money we spend. Parents should have the right to home school their children, in accordance with the educational standards of our schools. We also need to focus more on true quality rather than quantity. We must set high standards for our students AND teachers. We must measure their performance diligently and hold educators and administrators accountable for the results in an atmosphere of transparency and efficiency.
Our school districts should have the ability to replace teachers who are not competent and we must impose reasonable waiting periods for teachers to gain tenure. Educators, teachers and parents should be involved in the design of compensation initiatives that encourage training and promote performance based on merit, so that our children have the best education we can provide.
I also strongly believe that we must return God to our public schools. For that reason, I voted in favor of H. Con. Res. 13, which encourages display of "In God We Trust" in public buildings and schools.