Since this is my first blog post for SCORE, I wanted to use the opportunity to introduce myself. Born in Chattanooga, I now live just miles from where I grew up.  I have two young children, one of whom just finished 5th grade at Normal Park Museum Magnet, a Hamilton County public school, and another who just completed the 2nd grade at the same school.  It has been a wonderful experience.

When the kids began at Normal Park, both my wife Monique and I became active at the school. Normal Park not only encourages parental involvement; it requires parents to participate in school activities. Whether it was serving on the school PTA board or volunteering at events, we have spent a lot of time involved at the school. Normal Park epitomizes what we want in a school: a strong principal, dedicated teachers, and involved parents. I also served on the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council, a board made up of parents from several county schools.

In 2007 I was elected as the State Senator for the 10th District, comprising most of the city of Chattanooga and all of Marion County. I was fortunate to be appointed immediately to the Senate Education Committee as Secretary, and got to know Senator Jamie Woodson, who chaired the committee at the time. Since then, I have worked with Senator Woodson and others to bring forward-thinking education reform to our State, co-sponsoring both the First to the Top bill and the Complete College Tennessee Act.

Over the course of writing this blog, I hope to talk about some of the issues that face us across Tennessee. Although recent test SCOREs reflect the progress we have made over the last several years, we have many areas we must address. I hope my pieces will highlight some of them.

Like most blogs, however, this experience will be most productive as a two-way street.  Every week in Senate Education Committee, we hear a presentation on an often unknown or little-publicized education issue. More than the votes we take, I enjoy learning about the innovative programs that talented educators are implementing across Tennessee. This blog opens up another avenue for me to tell you about such exciting developments, but it also gives you the opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback and direct readers to even more resources. Together, we can make this a collaborative discussion regarding the ongoing changes in Tennessee education, and I thank Senator Woodson and everyone at SCORE for allowing me to be part of the conversation.