Education Opportunities: A Path Forward for Students in Tennessee

July 7, 2014

Freedom to Succeed

Opportunities for Students in Tennessee

In 2010, Tennessee moved to tie higher education funding to outcomes in order to raise educational attainment levels and assure the state’s workforce is prepared for today’s economy. Although the Tennessee post-secondary model has received national acclaim, the Volunteer State still has some of the most high profile problems in its urban school districts and has the 12th highest poverty rate in the U.S.

With poverty and educational outcomes so closely linked, what steps can we take in education both to help low income students beat the odds and to increase their well-being?  A large part of the education debate has centered on school choice, with a recent effort to expand it falling short in the Tennessee Legislature. Can school choice help maximize opportunity, leading to an alleviation of poverty and wider societal well- being?  In addition, are there obstacles, such as licensing and standardization in education, that undermine opportunity?

The Charles Koch Institute seeks to advance the discussion on the issues tied to delivering and receiving quality education during an in-depth policy conversation, “Education Opportunities: A Path Forward for Students in Tennessee.” Please join us as we explore solutions to propel educational outcomes forward and enhance well-being.

The Charles Koch Foundation is a proud supporter of this event.


Welcome by Brennan Brown, Program Officer, Charles Koch Foundation


Jonathan Butcher @JM_Butcher, Education Director, Goldwater Institute

“Every child is unique, and decades of academic results show that a system of assigned schools does not meet the needs of every child. Children must be free to learn anywhere, anytime, using any resources—hardware, software, teachers, classrooms, and beyond—available to them.” Source

Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn, State Programs & Government Relations Director, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

“The discovery of (school choice) has given families … the ability to find new ways to meet their children’s needs. That is why (school choice) so effectively speak to Milton Friedman’s vision for education and its future: the freedom to choose and discover, both of which, together, improve the lot of everyday people.” Source

Justin Owen @JustinDOwen, President & CEO, The Beacon Center of Tennessee

“Families across Tennessee are signaling that they want better opportunities when it comes to their kids’ educations. If they are allowed to make choices with every other aspect of their lives, they should be allowed to select the education they deem appropriate for their children.” Source

Dr. Steve Perry @DrStevePerry, Principal, Capital Preparatory Magnet School

“Education is the single most effective method of removing poverty from the family experience. Education is the antidote, and great teachers are the syringe through which the antidote is delivered.” Source