Mayors Say Early Education a Springboard to a Vibrant Workforce

Tennessee’s city and county mayors are lining up in support for stronger early childhood education programs.

More than 60 mayors from across Tennessee have joined TQEE’s mayors coalition. The group recognizes that high quality early education is a dynamic, strategic force able to positively impact individuals’ life-long learning, employment and earnings potential. 

“It is a fact of life that to attract good paying jobs to our area, we must have a skilled workforce,” said Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist. “What many people don’t think about is that building those workforce skills starts with development early in life through learning to read, solving math problems and learning how to get along with others.”

Among the mayors most recently joining the coalition are Mark Bentley, Hickman County; T.R. Williams, Lawrence County; Jessie Wallace, Humphreys County, Bonnie Lewis, Moore County; Chad Graham, Bedford County; Denny Robinson, White County; Tim Stribling, Dekalb County; Mike Keny, Marshall County; and Steven Chambers, Trousdale County.

“Local leaders get it – quality early education programs can have a big impact on learning and achievement,” said Mike Carpenter, TQEE executive director.  “We can and must do a better job of educating young Tennesseans in the critical early years of learning to set the stage for success in middle school, high school and beyond. The growing list of mayors joining the coalition from different counties, cities and towns across our area serves as a confirmation of support which spans the political aisle.”

The mayor’s coalition has urged Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly to promote early literacy and math through coaching.

“I believe that we need to continue to improve the quality and expansion of pre-kindergarten programs across the state and support our teachers with quality training and coaching,” said Lewis County Mayor Jonah Keltner.

As of April 5, 2019, the full list of TQEE mayor’s coalition members include:

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank; Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham; Benton County Mayor Brett Lashlee; Bolivar, Mayor Julian McTizic; Brownsville Mayor Bill Rawls; Henry County Mayor Brent Greer; Camden Mayor Roger Pafford; Cannon County Mayor Brent Rush; Carroll County Mayor Joseph Butler; Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke; Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson; Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell; Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton; Crockett County Mayor Gary Reasons; Decatur County Mike Creasy; Dekalb County Mayor Tim Stribling; Dyer County Mayor Chris Young; Fayette County Mayor Skip Taylor; Franklin County Mayor David Alexander; Gibson County Mayor Tom Witherspoon; Hardeman County Mayor Jimmy Sain; Hardin County Mayor Kevin Davis; Haywood County Mayor David Livingston; Henderson County Eddie Bray; Henderson Mayor Robert King; Hickman County Mayor Mark Bentley; Houston County Mayor James Bridges; Humphreys County Mayor Jessie Wallace; Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley; Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist; Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs; Lake County Mayor Patrick D. Johnson; Lauderdale County Mayor Maurice Gaines; Lawrence County Mayor T.R. Williams; Lewis County Mayor Jonah Keltner; Lexington Mayor Jeff Griggs; Linden Mayor Wes Ward; Lobelville Mayor Robbie Moore; Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris; Marshall County Mayor Mike Keny; McKenzie Mayor Jill Holland; McNairy County Mayor Larry Smith; Milan Mayor B.W. Beasley; Moore County Mayor Bonnie Lewis; Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire; Paris Mayor Carlton Gerrell; Parsons Mayor Tim David Boaz; Perry County Mayor John Carroll; Putnam County Executive Randy Porter; Ripley Mayor Jon Pavletic; Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron; Selmer Mayor John Smith; Sevier Mayor Larry Waters; Stanton Mayor Allan Strebinsky; Stewart County Mayor Robin Brandon; Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman; Trousdale County Mayor Steven Chambers; Union City Mayor Terry Hailey; Warren County Mayor Jimmy Haley; Wayne County Executive Jim Mangubat; Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum; and White County Mayor Denny Robinson.

27 Tennessee Mayors…and Growing…Join Early Childhood Coalition

Expressing concern that a majority of Tennessee third-graders are not proficient in reading and math, mayors from across rural West Tennessee have formed a coalition to support the advancement of early education.

“It is a fact of life that to attract good paying jobs to our area, we must have a skilled workforce. What many people don’t think about is that building those workforce skills starts with development early in life — through learning to read, solving math problems and learning how to get along with others.” — Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris

The Jackson Sun last week featured a story on 27 rural West Tennessee mayors who have joined the Mayors’ Early Education Coalition supported by TQEE.   Here’s a link to the article.

The coalition calls for state policies that support initiatives like the Read to be Ready early literacy programs, more training and coaching for early grades (pre-k through 3rd grade) teachers, and improving quality and expanding Tennessee’s pre-k program.

West Tennessee area mayors presently part of the organization include:

  • Barry Hutcherson, Chester County
  • Benny McGuire, Obion County
  • Bill Rawls, Brownsville
  • Brent Greer, Henry County
  • Brett Lashlee, Benton County
  • Chris Young, Dyer County
  • Dale Kelley, City of Huntingdon
  • David Livingston, Haywood County
  • Eddie Bray, Henderson County
  • Jake Bynum, Weakley County
  • Jeff Griggs, City of Lexington
  • Jill Holland, City of McKenzie
  • Jimmy Harris, Madison County
  • Jimmy Sain, Hardeman County
  • John Carroll, Perry County
  • Jon Pavletic, City of Ripley
  • Joseph Butler, Carroll County
  • Julian McTizic, City of Bolivar
  • Kevin Davis, Hardin County
  • Larry Smith, McNairy County
  • Mike Creasy, Decatur County
  • Robert King, City of Henderson
  • Roger Pafford, City of Camden
  • Skip Taylor, Fayette County
  • Tim David Boaz, City of Parsons
  • Tom Witherspoon, Gibson County
  • Wes Ward, City of Linden

Thanks to all of you for supporting Tennessee’s youngest learners!

With gratitute,

Mike, Lisa and the TQEE team

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