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Rural PreK Coalition

About the Rural PreK Coalition

TQEE’s Rural PreK Coalition is a coalition of 113 elected leaders and directors of schools from the 39 rural counties in Tennessee designed by the Appalachian Regional Commission as economically distressed or at-risk of becoming distressed. You can view a map and more information about those counties HERE.

PreK is a proven strategy for improving 3rd grade reading and math, yet 60% of our children have no access. Among those adversely affected are children and families living in our rural distressed and at-risk communities.

That’s why this coalition came together to advocate for increasing the number of PreK classrooms in their communities. See what they had to say in their letter below to the Chairs of the Tennessee House and Senate Education Committees.

94% of Tennessee Voters Agree
With Expanding Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K for ALL 4-Year-Olds.

Letter to Legislative Leaders

January 31, 2020

The Honorable Dolores Gresham
Chairwoman
Senate Education Committee
744 CHB
Nashville, TN 37243

The Honorable Mark White
Chairman
House Education Committee
624 CHB
Nashville, TN 37243

Dear Senator Gresham and Representative White:

As representatives of the counties designated as rural distressed or at-risk, we believe improving the lives of our citizens must include access to a quality early education. In the same way Governor Lee has prioritized state economic, workforce and mental health resources for our struggling communities, we are requesting that expansion of pre-k seats, where good quality and demonstrated need exist, also be prioritized.

Overwhelming evidence supports that children who have high-quality pre-k sustain their academic gains beyond 3rd grade. Experts agree that children who are not proficient in reading and math by 3rd grade are:

  • 4 times more likely to drop out of high school;
  • 60 % less likely to pursue a post-secondary opportunity, and;
  • At-risk children are 70% more likely to commit a violent crime if not exposed to an early childhood education.

Revitalizing our counties for the current and future generations will take sustained attention and a variety
of strategies. But long-range viability will be built on the educational foundation of our children. To that end, we call on our state leaders to support increasing the number of Voluntary PreK seats available to children in rural distressed and at-risk counties.

We thank you for your immediate attention to this issue and for your service to the citizens of Tennessee.

Rural PreK Coalition Members

Bledsoe County

Zach Olendorf
Assessor

Deanna Rains
Trustee

Genese Sapp
County Clerk

Greggory Ridley
Mayor

Emma Boynton
Register of Deeds

Carroll County

Darlen Kirk
County Clerk

Rita Jones
Assessor

Joseph Butler
Mayor

Paula Bolen
Trustee

Lynn Watkins
Director of Schools

Jill Holland
Mayor, McKenzie

Claiborne County

Alice Alexander
Trustee

Karen Hurst
County Clerk

Rita Jones
Clerk and Master

Decatur County

Beth Hays
Trustee

Elizabeth Carpenter
Clerk and Master

Steve Glass
Assessor

Chris Vilafor
Director of Schools

Melinda Broadway
County Clerk 

Danny Tanner
Circuit Court Clerk

Mike Creasy
Mayor

TIm Boaz
Mayor, Parsons

Regina Tillman
Register of Deeds

Grainger County

Angie Lamb
County Clerk

Johnny Morgan
Assessor

Mark Hamm
Veterans Officer

Rena Greer
Trustee

Hardeman County

Janice Bodiford
Clerk and Master

Julian McTizic
Mayor, Bolivar

Jerry Armstrong
County Clerk

Lily Barnes
Register of Deeds

Jimmy Sain
Mayor

Mary W. Powell
Trustee

Josh Pulse
Assessor

Michael Jones
Police Chief, Bolivar

Haywood County

Billy Garrett Jr.
Sheriff

Sonya Castellaw
County Clerk

David Livingston
Mayor

Steve Smith
Register of Deeds

Gwen Watson
Assessor

WIlliam L. Howse
Trustee

Joey Hassell
Director of Schools

William Rawls Jr.
Mayor Brownsville

Henderson County

Ann Anderson
School Board – Lexington

Carolyn Holmes
County Clerk

Eddie Bray
Mayor

Jeff Griggs
Mayor – Lexington

Rob Helms
School Board – Lexington

Beverly Dunaway
Circuit Court Clerk

Chad Woods
School Board – Lexington

Gary Pope
Assessor

Jim Terry
School Board – Lexington

Roger Loftin
Police Chief – Lexington

Brian Duke
Sheriff

Cindy Olive
Director of Schools – Lexington

Jack Hinson
School Board – Lexington

John Cavness
Trustee

Steve Wilkinson
Director of Schools

Carol Cooley
School Board – Lexington

Doug Barthlomew
Register of Deeds

Jason Bates
School Board – Lexington

Leigh Milam
County Clerk

Houston County

Donna Vincent
Circuit Court Clerk

Sherill Moore
Register of Deeds

James Bridges
Mayor

Jimmy Lowery
Trustee

Joy Hooper
Assessor

Johnson County

Kevin Parsons
Mayor – Mountain City

Mike Taylor
Mayor

Lauderdale County

Greg Summar
Register of Deeds

Renate Jennings
Assessor

Sandra Burnham
County Clerk

Lewis County

Barbara Hinson
Circuit Court Clerk

Sandra Clayton
County Clerk

Benny Pace
Director of Schools

Danny McKnight
Mayor – Hohenwald

Jonah Keltner
Mayor

Obion County

Benny McGuire
Mayor

Judy Smith
Assessor

Cheryl Reddin
Register of Deeds

Terry Hailey
Mayor – Union City

Crystal Cain
County Clerk

Tim Watkins
Director of Schools

Harry Johnson
Circuit Court Clerk

Tracy Westbrooks
Trustee

Perry County

Garry Horner
Assessor

Glenda Leegan
County Clerk

John Carroll
Mayor

Shane Copeland
Trustee

Scott County

Anthoney Sexton
Assessor

Felicia Bilbrey
County Clerk

Ashley Riseden
Register of Deeds

Jimmy Byrd
Trustee

Bill Hall
Director of Schools

Ronald Phillips
Sheriff

Dennis Jeffers
Mayor – Huntsville

Unicoi County

Garland Evely
Mayor

John English
Director of Schools

Union County

Dr. Jason Bailey
Mayor

Jimmy Carter
Director of Schools

Roger Richardson
Police Chief – Maynardsville, Mayor

Warren County

Ben Newman
Mayor – McMinnville

Jimmy Haley
Mayor

Tommy Myers, Jr.
Sheriff

Weakley County

April Jones
Register of Deeds

Kim Hughey
County Clerk

Jake Bynum
Mayor

Marci Floyd
Trustee

Jeff Floyd
School Board

Randy Brundige
Mayor – Martin

Jennifer Killebrew
Circuit Court Clerk

Randy Frazier
Director of Schools

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