Overbey praises special session to focus on education

State Senator Doug Overbey said he is very pleased Gov. Phil Bredesen has called a special legislative session to work on education. In a Dec. 16 press release, Overbey said the special session will give lawmakers the opportunity to deal head-on with issues that will benefit Tennessee students for many years to come.

“We have many opportunities to gain by putting education first this year,” Overbey said. “The Race to the Top funds would offer substantial financial help for our schools at a time when Tennessee is suffering economically.

“The reforms needed to draw down those federal dollars will also make a positive impact on education in our state.”

The state must adopt legislation to conform to the Race to the Top requirements by Jan. 19, 2010, to qualify.

The action would enable Tennessee to receive a portion of the $ 4.3 billion in federal funds set aside for states that meet reform guidelines.

The General Assembly is also expected to deal with legislation during the Special Session regarding graduation rates at Tennessee’s colleges and universities. Some of the legislative topics expected to be debated regarding higher education during the Special Session include:

Requiring the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to establish a funding formula based substantially on performance and outcomes;

Requiring the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the University of Tennessee (UT) to establish a statewide transfer agreement between all two- and four-year colleges and universities;

Eliminating remedial instruction at all four-year universities;

Requiring TBR and UT to establish dual admission and dual enrollment policies at all two- and four-year colleges and universities.

“Improving education in Tennessee has been a priority of mine since serving as chairman of the Blount County Commission’s Education Committee,” Overbey said. “I believe that setting this time aside to concentrate on reform gives us the chance to make real improvements for Tennessee students.”

The General Assembly is expected to begin their work on Jan. 12.

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