Kingsport Times News Saturday, November 22, 2014
Community Education

United Way supports Pre-K and Common Core, launches afterschool network, and celebrates Tennessee's teachers

March 3rd, 2014 9:49 am by Mary Graham

NASHVILLE – United Ways of Tennessee, the association of 38 United Ways in the state, today gathers for its Day on the Hill to support preservation of funding for Pre-K classrooms and of common core standards. The day includes a breakfast with legislators at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, followed by an advocates’ training session in the House Chamber, an award ceremony, and legislative visits.

“While we were grateful that Pre-K classrooms received full funding in the Governor’s budget, we need to stay vigilant in tough economic times,” said Mary Graham, President of United Ways of Tennessee. “Every $1 spent on Pre-K saves taxpayers $7 by reducing the need for special education, welfare and criminal justice services. We’re only serving a third of at-risk children now, and research shows that Pre-K leads to higher graduation rates, less crime, and better wages for those who attended.”

United Way advocates are also encouraging their legislators to preserve common core and are attending the House Education Committee to show their support for the standards. “Common core ensures our kids are prepared for college and the workforce,” said Graham. “If students graduate with critical thinking, strong writing, and problem solving skills, they’ll have the tools they need to succeed in life.”

United Way is also celebrating the launch of the Tennessee Statewide Afterschool Network with its many partners on the initiative, which is made possible by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. “The Tennessee Afterschool Network is going to support children, youth, families and communities by advocating and building capacity with a unified voice for sustainable investments in safe, healthy and nurturing afterschool experiences,” said Lester Lattany, United Ways of Tennessee’s Board Chair.

“Research shows that students participating in high-quality afterschool programs have better school attendance, grades and standard test performance compared to students who do not participate in afterschool programs. They also have less misconduct and less use of drugs and alcohol. Quality afterschool is also a tremendous support providing peace of mind for our working parents in this state!” United Way and all of its collaborative partners will be having a planning summit for the afterschool network on March 21st and are using the Day on the Hill to gather input and temperature reads on afterschool policies from legislators.

Miss Tennessee, Shelby Thompson, is presenting United Way’s most prestigious award for Advocacy Leadership to Tennessee’s Teachers. “In the face of new reforms, administrative demands, and the challenges of the classroom, our teachers have helped Tennessee’s kids make bigger gains in national testing than any other state,” Graham said. “We owe them a tremendous debt for their hard work and service to our children and youth.” Beth Ricker from Greenville High School and Brandi Blackley from Covington High School will be accepting on behalf of Tennessee’s teachers.

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