Business, Education

Partners Launch Tennessee Business Fund for Public Education

Partners Launch Tennessee Business Fund for Public Education
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA), the Tennessee Business Roundtable (TBR) and the American Public Education Foundation (APEF) are proud to announce the launch of the Tennessee Business Fund for Public Education (TBFPE).

The new charitable Fund will directly support the creation of programs in public schools that lead to postsecondary success and career opportunities for students, while giving businesses the opportunity to develop a future ready workforce.  Through the Fund, Tennessee businesses and individuals will be empowered to create grant opportunities for public school districts in four career-connected focus areas:

  1. courses and programs that provide postsecondary credit, national industry certifications, and credentials;
  2. literacy;
  3.  character education; and
  4. health.

“We are very excited about the Fund and believe this will help prepare students for their future careers. School districts will be able to meet the needs of their community and create lasting partnerships with local and regional businesses,” said TSBA President and Campbell County Board Member Faye Heatherly.

“This Fund will provide Tennessee’s businesses a unique opportunity to positively influence the future of our workforce through direct partnerships with our public schools,” said William A. “Tinker” Kelly, CEO of Voluntary Employee Benefit Advisors and 2018 Vice-Chair of the Tennessee Business Roundtable. “By donating funds to assist a single school, to support one or more school districts, or on an unrestricted basis, this Fund allows businesses of any size to take an active role in building a talent pipeline,” he added.

Over the last eight months, TSBA, TBR, and the APEF have worked together to create a partnership that creates a way for Tennessee’s entire business community to actively support the development of career focused programs for students. Through the Fund, which will operate under the not-for-profit 501(c)(3) American Public Education Foundation, contributing businesses and individuals will gain the ability to support all four career-connected focus areas, or to focus on a specific program to meet a particular need in their community.

The APEF will provide all administrative functions for the Fund, including legal, accounting and Internal Revenue Code compliance, and financial oversight. This will ensure transparency, accountability, and the knowledge that the Tennessee BusinessFund for Public Education is empowering students and creating a future ready workforce.

“We are living in times of exponential change. We are today preparing our students for jobs that have not yet been created, using technologies that have not yet been invented, solving problems that we don’t yet realize are problems,” said APEF President David A. Pickler. “The American Public Education Foundation is proud to be a partner in this collective vision for Tennessee’s economic future. This collaboration in workforce development will be an essential ingredient in achieving a future which will empower Tennessee to fulfill its potential for economic growth and quality of life for its citizens,” he added.

For more information about the Fund, contact TSBA at (615) 815-3900 or TBR at (615) 255-5877.

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About the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) – www.tsba.net
The Tennessee School Boards Association is a state wide, nonprofit organization of school boards throughout Tennessee. TSBA’s mission is to assist school boards in effectively governing school districts. Through the years, TSBA has helped school boards and their members reach their highest potential through Association programs, meetings and services. TSBA also provides school board members with a collective voice in matters of legislation and public education concerns. For more information about TSBA, visit our website at: www.tsba.net.

About the Tennessee Business Roundtable (TBR) – www.tbroundtable.org
To optimize the quality of life and well-being of all Tennesseans, the Tennessee Business Roundtable develops and seeks to implement public policies which enhance our state’s vibrant economic climate. Founded by prominent Tennessee business leaders in 1983, and dedicated to the belief that an educated, healthy populace and sound state fiscal policies are the primary drivers of Tennessee’s vibrant economy, TBR seeks to be the most respected & influential policy voice for Tennessee’s business community.

About the American Public Education Foundation (APEF) –www.theapef.org
The American Public Education Foundation partners with public school advocates from all walks of life – lawmakers, leaders, and ordinary Americans – to “keep the American Dream alive” for our nation’s K-12 students. We believe that high-quality public education is the pathway to a stronger America. The American Public Education Foundation centers our efforts on three areas that complement classroom instruction and catalyze student achievement: innovation, leadership, and service learning. Our foundation passionately and profoundly believes in the power of public education.”

Business, Competitiveness, Education, Workforce

New Industry Certifications & WBL Grants

Last week, in response to input from the business community the Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced 21 new industry certification options for Tennessee students in order to prepare them for the state’s most in-demand industry sectors.

These new additions bring the number of recognized industry certifications up to 80, with 46 of them being aligned with specific CTE programs of study. 

Read more about the new certifications here

See a list of the 2018/2019 promoted industry certifications here

 

The Department of Economic Development also made a significant workforce development announcement when they released 10 work-based learning grants totaling $250,000.  These grants were awarded to LEAs in order to “promote community-led work-based learning to improve career awareness and readiness of students and improve local/regional talent pipeline.”

Second round winners included:

  • Anderson County Schools – Anderson County
  • Oak Ridge Schools – Anderson County
  • Claiborne County School District – Claiborne County
  • Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools – Davidson County
  • DeKalb County Board of Education – DeKalb County
  • Dyer County Schools – Dyer County
  • Dyersburg City Schools – Dyer County
  • Hamblen County Schools – Hamblen County
  • Marion County Board of Education – Marion County
  • Monroe County Schools – Monroe County

In January, 29 first round recipients won grants totaling more than $710,000 top expand work-based learning efforts in their schools and communities. The Roundtable was pleased to participate in the review of applications, and congratulates all first and second round winners.

Education, Workforce

TN ECD Apprenticeship Listening Tour

Our Roundtable is partnering with the TN Dept. of Economic & Community Development (ECD) this spring to engage with employers on apprenticeships throughout Tennessee.  This partnership with ECD is one of the principal ways in which our Roundtable is actively pursuing the following objective during 2018:

To secure the skilled and productive workforce needed to sustain and grow Tennessee’s economy, TBR actively supports innovative collaboration between businesses, governments, schools, and communities to create and improve Early Post-Secondary Opportunities (EPSOs), work-based learning programs, and apprenticeship programs that are strongly aligned to our state’s current and future workforce needs. 

Beginning at a series of regional two-hour sessions at five locations this month, ECD, TBR and other partners will engage stakeholders to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of the value of apprenticeships in workforce development;
  • Inventory existing apprenticeship efforts;
  • Identify and develop apprenticeship best practices; and
  • Achieve consensus on how all TN stakeholders will work together to increase the quality, value and availability of apprenticeships in our state.

The ECD Apprenticeship Listening Tour schedule:

  1. TCAT Smyrna – Tuesday, March 13, 9:30-11:30am CDT
  2. Jackson State Comm. College – Monday, March 19, 9:00-11:00am CDT
  3. Southwest State Comm. College, Memphis – Monday, March 19, 2:00-4:00pm CDT
  4. RCAM, Kingsport – Tuesday, March 27, 8:30-10:30am EDT
  5. TCAT Athens – Tuesday, March 27, 2:30-4:30pm EDT

Action Steps for TBR Members & other interested organizations:

  • See today’s TN ECD Press Release (below; also attached PDF) for additional details.
  • Click HERE to complete your complimentary registration for a tour session near you.
  • Save the Date:  TN ECD’s Apprenticeship Summit – Tuesday, May 22, Nelson Andrews Leadership Lodge, Nashville
Education, Leadership, Workforce

Tennessee Business Leaders Honor Governor Bill Haslam with Gordon Fee Leadership in Education Award

Haslam Becomes Just Sixth Leader Recognized by Roundtable for Education Contributions to Tennessee

Gov. Bill Haslam (left) on Feb. 1 received the Gordon Fee Leadership in Education Award from 2018 Tennessee Business Roundtable Chair Anthony Kimbrough (right), CEO of Farm Bureau Health Plans.

On Thursday, February 1, 2018, the Tennessee Business Roundtable (“TBR”; “the Roundtable”) presented its Gordon Fee Leadership in Education Award to Governor Bill Haslam at its 2018 Annual Meeting, in recognition of Haslam’s enduring contributions toward excellence in public education throughout his tenure as Tennessee’s Governor.

“This is only the sixth time our leadership has voted to bestow this award since its creation in 2008,” said 2018 TBR Chair Anthony Kimbrough (CEO, Farm Bureau Health Plans, Columbia, Tenn.).  “It’s one thing to be a voice for education, as most political and community leaders claim to be. It’s quite another to pair the voice with real and lasting action. Governor Haslam has done exactly that, and the list of accomplishments during his tenure as governor will help re-write the history of education in our state.”

Above: TBR Chair Anthony Kimbrough presents Governor Haslam with the Gordon Fee Leadership in Education Award.

Right: Governor Haslam addresses TBR’s 2018 Annual Meeting after receiving TBR’s Gordon Fee Leadership in Education Award.

During his tenure as Governor, Haslam has prioritized education reforms year upon year.  After launching the Drive to 55 initiative, aimed at increasing the number of Tennesseans with postsecondary credentials, Haslam spearheaded the Tennessee Promise and Reconnect initiatives, which have respectively expanded the financial resources available to Tennessee’s traditional students and adult learners in pursuit of postsecondary credentials.

“Under Governor Haslam’s leadership, Tennessee’s public education systems have implemented a range of innovative programs that are now getting more of our students better-prepared for today’s workforce,” said Gordon Fee, the longtime education advocate and TBR leader from Oak Ridge, Tenn. for whom the Award is named.  “These programs are clearly making a difference. I can think of no one more deserving of this Leadership in Education Award than Bill Haslam.”

"It’s one thing to be a voice for education, as most political and community leaders claim to be. It’s quite another to pair the voice with real and lasting action. Governor Haslam has done exactly that."
Anthony Kimbrough
TBR Chair

Other successful Haslam administration education initiatives include the SAILS program to reduce the need for remedial math classes, Read to be Ready to boost 3rd grade literacy, and revised Tennessee Academic Standards which raise expectations for students across the state.

“Governor Haslam applied incredible insight in first recognizing that sustaining the success of our state’s economy and communities requires a much greater rate of post-secondary attainment among Tennesseans, then developing a well-designed plan to meet that need—the Drive to 55 initiative,” said Margaret O. Dolan (President & CEO, LocalShares, LLC, Nashville, Tenn.), TBR’s immediate past Chair.  “The strategic integration of the Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Reconnect, AdviseTN, and other components give more Tennesseans real opportunities to attain postsecondary credentials, no matter their age, life stage, or financial situation.  Governor Haslam has made this work to boost economic prosperity for all a priority throughout his service to our state.”

ABOUT THE GORDON FEE LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION AWARD

The Roundtable’s Leadership in Education Award is named for Gordon G. Fee of Oak Ridge, Tenn., a longtime member of the Roundtable and champion for public education. Fee is a past President of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and plant manager of the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge. The award serves as an ongoing tribute to Fee as the Roundtable’s longest-serving Education Committee Chair from 1992 through 2015.  In this capacity, Gordon tirelessly championed the Roundtable’s education initiatives by serving in many leadership roles, including being the first volunteer executive in the State Department of Education.

Prior recipients of the Gordon Fee Leadership in Education Award include:

  • Gordon G. Fee, retired President, Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, 2008
  • Michael Edwards, President/CEO, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, 2009
  • Governor Phil Bredesen, 2010
  • Richard Montgomery, former TN St. Rep. and TN House Education Chairman, 2012
  • Randy Boyd, CEO, Radio Systems Corporation, 2014
Gordon G. Fee
Business, Education

Securing Tennessee’s Workforce: The Future is NOW

A New Paradigm for our Business Community and Nine Keys to Success

This piece was originally published in the TBR Member Update on June 23, 2017 

By TBR President Pat Sheehy

How do we get more Tennesseans job- ready in the skill areas of greatest need to our state’s economy? In talking with our state’s business leaders and allied organizations, I’ve learned this is the question that keeps many of them up at night. 

I’ve heard great examples of employers investing in their businesses through opportunities for young Tennesseans, and about great efforts by local business nonprofits to inform, encourage and facilitate workforce development.

 Yet those joyful noises are still being drowned out by a growing din of alarm and doubt among employers, economists and workforce experts: “It’s still not enough.” “We can’t find qualified workers.” “Who’s really doing something about this?”

It’s time for employers and our organizations to put it all together for Tennessee. In partnership with educators, governments, and each other, Tennessee businesses and our nonprofits should embrace a new paradigm:

The future of Tennessee’s workforce begins nowFor our businesses, our state, and our peoplewe must take action individually and collectively, and with others,to produce more workers, with better skills, matching our most-needed jobs,now and for the future of Tennessee’s economy.

How do we achieve this vision? Here are nine key ideas that should inform action by Tennessee’s business community:

  1. Tomorrow’s employees need active employer support all the way from K to J. As tomorrow’s employees begin journeying from kindergarten to job (“K to J”), companies cannot simply wait at the end of the road for them to arrive—we have to actively help them get there. Our education system provides the “roads” for these “occupational motorists” to travel, but if we want more of them to arrive at our doors sooner and job-ready with the skills we need, business must take an active role in providing guard rails, signage, lighting, maps, and even billboards all along their way. If we don’t, too many of them will continue wandering on unproductive, lifelong “road trips”. 
  1. Career awareness is critical—early, often, and in every way possible. “When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut, ballerina, You-Tuber…” Kids begin forming career impressions at shockingly early ages. Too often, they don’t connect to actual job opportunities. If we want more workers at our doors sooner, job-ready with the skills we need, we must “market” our jobs to them—early, aggressively and often. How? Show and tell—in person or on-screen—in front of classes, student groups, parents, and individual students, as early and often as possible. Show them how our skilled positions will deliver the cash for phones, clothes, and cars. Let them see and feel the satisfaction and confidence that “winning” at work delivers.  
  1. K-12 advisors need business expertise, resources and support. Another emerging reality: The adults in the most critical positions from which to influence K-12 students’ career formation are under incredible strain. Too many of them have too many students to serve, not enough professional development opportunities, and are the “staffer of first resort” when a school needs an adult to stop what they’re doing to fill a need or solve a problem. Businesses can step up and step in to help. How many of your staff can contribute mentorship, talent-management acumen, work-world hacks, or professional development support to lift up advisors in your K-12 communities?  
  1. More future workers are learning by doing. With eyes and minds re-wired by electronic screentime, people now learn more by doing than from listening and reading. When K-12 and college students engage in work-based learning (WBL), they grasp theory through practical execution—to real-world standards. They gain soft skills they can’t get in classrooms, and discover the power of paychecks. When they exit the educational system, the employers from whom they’ve learned are tops on their career agenda—and they contribute more and sooner as permanent hires. The WBL approach delivers better results than “give me somebody who can show up on time and pass a drug test, and we’ll train them”—over and over again.  
  1. Post-secondary instruction needs more direct business support. Accomplished businesspeople have long shared their knowledge as adjunct university professors. But Tennessee’s higher ed students and institutions need much more business acumen to inform and support post-secondary study—especially in disciplines matching the skill areas of greatest workforce need. And it’s needed throughout the higher ed system, especially in the TCAT and community college programs into which TN Promise students have begun to flow in greater numbers–and which are struggling to find enough instructors to teach them.  
  1. When the pie grows bigger, everybody gets more. It’s clear that solving Tennessee’s workforce riddle is going to require mobilizing all of the available talent sources in our state. We need numbers, and can’t afford to overlook the talent in people with barriers to employment. There’s so much we can do to grow Tennessee’s talent pie. We can unlock doors for ex-offenders and help veterans “translate” their MOS’s to the skills required for the jobs we need most. We can support employees who want to “re-Connect” and enable those with physical or mental challenges to participate fully in our workforce.  
  1. Employers must take primary responsibility for making it happen. For too long, business owners have focused comfortably on our operations and customers, expecting our workforce to simply appear when needed—and leaving the heavy lifting to our school districts, governments and charitable nonprofits. How’s that working out for us? Not well enough. Business needs to apply the power of free enterprise in taking charge of our workforce destiny, and accept a primary role in overcoming the inefficiency and lack of resources and coordination which constrain public-sector efforts. If we don’t, our businesses and state economy face growing risks.  
  1. How do we eat an employment “elephant”? One bite at a time. “We can’t possibly turn this around—it’s too big a problem.” Not one of us has enough time, people, or resources to solve our own employment riddle. Larger companies invest in last-mile pipelines for enterprise-critical talent, at great expense. But sustaining Tennessee’s economic success requires each and every cog in our state’s economic engine to include workforce outreach in its business plan—and take meaningful action. Nobody needs to do everything, but each company must do something for Tennessee’s K to J talent pipeline.  
  1. Sustained progress requires the three C’s. Many businesses and organizations are already developing programs that respond to their populations and industry cluster needs. They’ve gotten companies to actively contribute time, treasure and know-how to develop their communities’ workforces. These investments are producing results, and they prove that business recognizes it must invest in workforce. Tennessee will win the talent competition when we coordinate such efforts, collaborate to fill in the gaps, and execute our commitments.  

Let’s move from talking and commiserating about our workforce challenges into action on them—so Tennessee’s economy and communities can continue to grow and to provide critical private and public benefits to the Tennesseans who bring it all to life.

Education, Policy

Tennessee Submits Final ESSA Plan to U.S. Department of Education

In April the TN Dept. of Education submitted to the U.S. Department of Education its final plan for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), enacted in December of 2015 as the successor to the No Child Left Behind federal education law.  The product of a yearlong process of listening tours, town hall meetings, and stakeholder feedback, Tennessee’s ESSA plan—which is slated to take effect on July 1 following review and approval by the federal government—includes a new focus on career readiness which is expected to help more students to graduate from the K-12 system better-prepared for employment and higher education.

ESSA builds on the recent progress being made in educational systems in Tennessee and across the country, which is leading to rising high school graduation rates and declining dropout rates. The new law now requires that all students be held to high academic standards which prepare them for college or careers after high school. Tennessee’s strategic education plan, put in place prior to the enactment of ESSA, closely tracks the new law’s major priorities and requirements and provided a strong foundation on which to build the state’s ESSA plan.

In January, the Roundtable submitted its feedback to the draft ESSA plan developed by the Tennessee Department of Education. After reviewing comments from over 1,000 groups and individuals throughout the state, the Dept. of Education made edits and adjustments to the draft plan which addressed areas of concern held by many stakeholders.

“The Roundtable’s primary concerns during the ESSA plan development process, which we voiced loudly and clearly to the Department [of Education] throughout, were to protect Tennessee’s commitments to high K-12 academic standards and to assessments which align with those high standards, and to put workforce readiness on par with college readiness in measuring K-12 school performance,” points out TBR Vice Chair Tinker Kelly (VEBA, Nashville, TN). “TBR fought successfully for decades to raise our state’s academic standards and to hold our schools accountable by measuring student performance against those standards, and we’re very pleased that Tennessee has ‘doubled down’ on those commitments by submitting an ESSA plan which protects those rigorous standards and assessments—and which affirms more clearly than ever before that career-readiness is just as important as being ready for college.”

Two new key indicators in Tennessee’s ESSA compliance plan will break new ground for the state in its measurement of opportunity and readiness. Tennessee’s new “Chronically Absent” indicator focuses on students who miss 10 percent or more of the days they are enrolled in school, and aims to decrease absenteeism by addressing the underlying causes of their truancy. To address readiness, Tennessee’s new Ready Graduate indicator will identify the percentage of high school graduates who achieve specified post-secondary readiness benchmarks, including scoring 21 or better on the ACT exam or attaining certain industry-recognized technical credentials, that increase their likelihood of succeeding in college and careers.

In response to feedback from TBR and other business interests on its draft plan, Tennessee’s final ESSA plan includes an additional “readiness check” within its Ready Graduate indicator. Students who complete two Early Postsecondary Opportunities and receive a sufficient score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery will now be included within that accountability measure as “ready graduates.” Additionally, the accountability weighting of the Ready Graduate indicator has been increased from 20% to 25%, while the weighting of the Chronically Absent indicator has decreased. Changes like these will encourage schools to prioritize career readiness offerings, leading to more students graduating prepared for college or the job market.

Click here to read about more changes to the December Draft ESSA plan.

Education

TBR Foundation, TN Board of Regents Boost College Advising

On March 1st and 2nd , the TBR Foundation hosted the Spring 2017 Tennessee Advising Academy, continuing the successful partnership it began with the Tennessee Board of Regents at the original College Completion Academy in 2011. This event was the first ever to focus solely on coordinating student advising functions within each college.
 
“Tennessee’s businesses need our state’s higher education system to produce greater numbers of highly- competent graduates with credentials that match employers’ talent pipeline needs,” says TBR President Pat Sheehy, who welcomed Advising Academy participants to Nashville on March 2. “Better college advising promotes higher rates of college completion and credentialing. Through our Foundation’s support of this Advising Academy, TBR is helping its members meet their workforce needs by supporting excellence in advising among the Board of Regents’ state universities, community colleges and TCATs.”