The Recipe for Educational SuccessA State Board of Education Member’s Perspective
By Bob Eby
Public education is the most important institution to our nation’s success and survival. This one shared endeavor binds our communities together and gives us commonality in purpose, no matter where we come from or what our backgrounds may be. In order for public education to thrive, the focus must always be on each student’s opportunity to succeed. After all, that is why public education exists — to provide every student the greatest likelihood for success and to take advantage of the blessings of liberty. The State Board of Education's purpose is to provide strong policies that ensure our students are challenged and strengthened. We accomplish this through developing excellent educator preparation programs, setting high academic standards, and postsecondary readiness.
As a new member of the State Board, one of the areas I am particularly looking forward to supporting and improving is our annual Teacher Preparation Report Card. This is a valuable tool developed by the Board to assist local school districts, prospective teachers, and colleges of education in learning more about the effectiveness of all Tennessee teacher prep programs. This summer, I joined the Teacher Preparation Report Card Advisory Council, a group that focuses on the successes and challenges in training Tennessee’s educators. We need more great teachers who can prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow. As a member of the policymaking body for public education in Tennessee, I will always demand the highest quality in educator preparation.
For the last 44 years, I have worked in the radio-chemical engineering industry. Between my career and 16 years serving on the Oak Ridge Board of Education, I have witnessed first hand the impact high academic standards, especially STEM programs, have on post-secondary readiness and ultimately success in the workforce. Having this perspective as a local school board member while watching my profession grow and evolve, I have come to better understand how districts, schools, and teachers must innovate to grow in a changing world and help prepare students for a dynamic economy.
Earlier this year, a national audit conducted by the Center for American Progress found that Tennessee was one of only four states that aligned high school graduation requirements and college admissions requirements. As the state agency that oversees academic standards, it is the Board’s responsibility to ensure the strength and success of our academic programs. By working with our education partners, such as the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the State Board has aligned with Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 Initiative and closed the gap in post-secondary deficiencies.
Responsible for educator licensure standards, quality academics, and postsecondary readiness, State Board members provide a critical role in providing quality education for students throughout the state. The Board's work is intended to bolster the efforts of Tennessee’s educators and make sure we are all doing the absolute best for Tennessee's students, our future leaders and workforce.