The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has released the following statement from President and CEO Jamie Woodson on Governor Bill Haslam’s announcement that he has selected Dr. Candice McQueen, Senior Vice President and Dean of the College of Education at Lipscomb University, to be commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education:

Leadership matters. In Tennessee, we are fortunate to have strong leaders in the classroom, at the school level, and in school districts. These leaders have helped make our state the fastest improving in the nation for student achievement. Leadership also matters at the state level. The state is responsible for ensuring our public schools deliver an excellent education, and the Commissioner of Education leads that effort by guiding student-focused decision-making, implementing policy well, listening to stakeholders, and advocating on behalf of Tennessee’s nearly one million public school students.

The selection of Dr. Candice McQueen to lead Tennessee’s Department of Education is an important moment for our state, our educators, and our students. Dr. McQueen’s experience as a classroom teacher, a pioneer in providing high-quality training and support to educators, and a leader in higher education makes her uniquely qualified for this role.

Most important, however, is Dr. McQueen’s relentless focus on what is best for students. She is a collaborative leader who has a track record of working with Tennessee educators, parents, policymakers, and community leaders to advance work that improves student achievement, from great teaching in every classroom, to higher academic expectations for all students, and strong leadership throughout schools and districts.

Tennessee is at a crossroads in the work to improve student achievement, and strong leadership is essential to keeping our state moving forward. Governor Haslam’s announcement sends the message to all Tennesseans that preparing students for success remains priority number one. Tennessee is headed in the right direction, and we must now build on that success on behalf of the students in our state.