TREND Winter 2017/2018 - Page 22

special section: Diane black Thank you for taking the time to share with our educators today. On behalf of our members, I would like to say we are grateful you are offering yourself for Governor. Please share with educators a little about who you are, and why you are running for Governor. My name is Diane Black. I am a registered nurse and former educator. I currently serve the people of Tennessee’s sixth congressional district as their Congressman. Who I am can be traced back to how I was raised. I grew up in Maryland, and spent the first years of my life in public housing. My parents came of age during the Depression and didn’t have more than a ninth-grade education. I never thought I would have the opportunity to go to college, but a guidance counselor helped me to get a scholarship to go to nursing school. If it were not for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. From my counselor, I learned to have high standards and high expectations. From my parents, I learned the value of work hard, to never quit, and to stick close to the most important thing – my values. I am running for Governor because I want our state to be the best it can be from education to healthcare to job creation. I want every child to know they can reach their full potential here. We made quite a few changes in public education in Tennessee the last decade - some necessary, some debatable. What are we doing right? As the fastest improving state in the nation since 2011, Tennessee has been making great strides in getting public education right. Closing achievement gaps and improving college readiness among students is no easy feat. I applaud the hard work and dedication of the high-quality educators who made it possible. Tennessee has set high expectations for teachers and teachers have met the challenge. Increased accountability has been a positive for teachers and students. The current wave of education reform has produced real, measurable results that have benefitted our state. In your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges still facing education in Tennessee? The looming teacher shortage is the greatest challenge facing education. Half of Tennessee’s teachers will retire or leave the profession in the next decade. The next Governor will be a key factor in how we solve this problem. A second challenge for education in Tennessee is expanding our focus on college readiness to include career readiness as well. There is widespread agreement for a renewed focus on Career and Technical Education but it is crucial we have a plan as we move toward that goal. Another challenge for Tennessee is making sure students explore various career paths before graduation. The renewed emphasis on CTE is a welcome development, but it is just one tool in the toolbox in exposing students to all the careers from which they can choose. What are the steps that the state and local districts need to take to address the challenges you identified? What impact will that have on classroom teachers? Much of Tennessee’s teacher shortage lies in grades 7-12. Shortages in Pre-K through Grade 6 exist mostly in Special Education and English Language Learners (ELL). ELL (formerly English as a Second Language), World Languages, Math and Science are the areas where the shortage is most