Tennessee Education Reform With an Indiana Flavor

The Complete College Tennessee Act is the name and the goal is a higher-functioning higher education system. And there are some Indiana connections.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen signed the legislation late last month. It intends to send remediation classes to community colleges, make it easier for two-year graduates to transfer to four-year universities and increase the number of students who actually earn their degrees. Sounds similar to some of the components in the Reaching Higher plan from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

One reason may be that former Indiana Commissioner Stan Jones, the Indiana Chamber’s 2009 Government Leader of the Year, contributed to the development of the Tennessee initiative. Jones now heads a Washington, D.C. nonprofit focused on helping states improve college attainment.

Jones was quoted in the Chattanooga Times Free Press as saying, "People are uncomfortable with change. The more they hear about it and about strategies, the more comfortable they will be."

In a Nashville Public Radio report, Gov. Bredesen focused on the workforce advantages, emphasizing that more people with degrees will bring better-paying jobs to the state. He said: 

“Look, I don’t have some number in mind. I mean, I know that we are, as I’ve said, we are well below the national averages in terms of the number of college graduates. And our rate is not sufficient to catch us up. One thing I’m very clear on is, we’re not going to compete, in the long term, with states that have much higher rates of college graduates in the kind of economy we’re going to have."

The Chamber focused on Indiana’s Reaching Higher efforts in the March-April 2008 BizVoice. In this year’s higher education issue (in the mail and available online on February 26), some of the Indiana initiatives as they related to the relationship between community colleges and regional campuses are examined in-depth.

Lawmakers Joining Blogging World

Stateline.org does an overall excellent job of covering policy and political news from, as the name suggests, a state perspective. But the massive nature of its mission produces some not totally unexpected errors.

This week’s story about lawmaker bloggers includes a list of state legislators who have become active blog participants. For Indiana, it lists Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) and Sen. David Ford (R-Hartford City).

Ford, of course, passed away earlier this year after being diagnosed with cancer near the start of the legislative session. We forgive the news organization for the oversight and will use it as an opportunity to once again celebrate the accomplishments of Ford, who represented portions of Adams, Allen, Blackford, Grant and Wells counties.

Ford was the Indiana General Assembly’s technology pioneer. He spent countless hours working toward increased technical capabilities in schools and other venues throughout the state. He also worked hard to convince his colleagues about the importance of the issues that many self-admittedly did not understand.

Chairman of the Senate’s Economic Development and Technology committee, Ford was co-winner of the Chamber’s 2004 Government Leader of the Year award — among many honors. In an interview in late 2007, he said his laptop was indispensable and he was happy to see more members of the Senate and House utilizing technology.

There would be no argument, either, that Ford was one of the true gentlemen to serve in the Indiana Legislature.