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Reaching the top!

April 12, 2010

On March 29, it was announced that Tennessee was one of two states, along with Delaware, that had qualified for the Obama administration’s initial wave of Race to the Top funds to support innovative, ambitious public education reform plans.  In the words of Education Secretary Arne Duncan:

“Both [Tennessee and Delaware] have statewide buy-in for comprehensive plans to reform their schools. They have written new laws to support their policies. And they have demonstrated the courage, capacity, and commitment to turn their ideas into practices that can improve outcomes for students.”

Tennessee will recieve approximately $500 million to enact their comprehensive reforms, of which approximately $68.4 will come to Memphis and Shelby County.

I couldn’t be more happy or proud to know that Tennessee’s application for Race For the Top funds was so successful.  This was an intense and extremely competitive process.  My congratulations and sincere thanks go to Governor Bredesen’s office, Dr. Webb and the Tennessee Department of Education, the 106th General Assembly, and our school leaders and philanthropic partners across the state for their collaboration and leadership.  The plan they submitted was nothing short of brilliant.  Thanks to them, Tennessee will soon be a national model for delivering effective, accountable public education on a statewide scale.  Special thanks go to Tomeka Hart from the Memphis City School Board of Commissioners who was part of the team that defended the application before Secretary Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. last week.

This is a transformative moment for schools, educators, and most importantly, children across Tennessee.  I have long believed that those communities who are most effectively able to develop and retain their talent and human capital will be best positioned to compete in the global economy moving forward.  On behalf of the entire city of Memphis, I am overjoyed and profoundly grateful for this opportunity to shape our children’s future in such a positive way.  We stand eager and ready to implement the initiatives included in the plan to make it a reality for our community.

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