Skip to content

McWherter’s impact on education

McWherter’s impact on education

Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8:01 pm

These were some remarks given by former state representative Mark Maddox at the April monthly meeting of the Weakley County School Board Thursday afternoon. “Education plus roads equals jobs.” You ever heard that before?
In 1986, we heard that a lot because in 1986 then-Speaker Ned McWherter was running for governor and that was the theme of his campaign. A lot of folks think that  first part of the equation, education, was just affected by what he did in 1992 called the Education Improvement Act.  And then, as governor of our state, he had campaigned on “education plus roads equals jobs,” and he said, “Every governor is accused of building roads in his own district and I’m sure going to be guilty of it if I’m going to be blamed for it.” That road was built from that program.
Education – he started his second term saying, “This is for the kids.” And the result of that term was something called the Education Improvement Act of 1992. Now, I had to go back because I couldn’t remember everything that happened in the Education Improvement Act of 1992 although I spent a good part of 14 years defending parts of it. But, the Education Improvement Act of 1992 was called the 21st Century Schools Program. It was adopted and it provided K-12 public schools with nearly a billing new state dollars. That was over a 90 percent increase in one year. Director Frazier, would that we had that kind of money now? The second thing it did was it created a report card – that thing we love to see come out every October or November that tells us how we did so that we as parents could look and see how our schools were doing, how our teachers were doing. The third thing it did is it changed the governance. The whole governance system did away with the position Jerry Simmons held at one time called the Superintendent of Schools and created an appointed director with elected school boards all across the state.
Resources, accountability, flexibility – that was the Education Improvement Act of 1992. He pioneered a statewide network. All of our classrooms are now connected to the Internet. All of our central office is now connected to the Internet. A little known fact that I didn’t really know – Tennessee Literacy 2000 was a program began in 1987 in his first year as governor that improved the adult literacy rate by 24 percent in his first four years. It was an attempt to make all non-reading adults, attempt to teach them to read, to write and to do basic math so that they could lead independent, productive lives.
Last Monday, when a lot of folks were getting ready for the championship game, our champion passed, but we’ve all benefited and he thought that his improvements in education were his greatest achievement. The future of our citizens, the future of our state is in good hands because of Ned McWherter. We sent him to Nashville in 1968 and he did a good job for us.

wcp 4/12/11

Leave a Comment