Phil Bredesen may have been expecting too much from our university. ["Volunteer Work," cover story by Jesse Fox Mayshark, Jan. 20, 2011] Speaking as a student at the University of Tennessee and a veteran of Knoxville's public schools, graduation rates are not likely to rise too substantially in the coming years unless our public school system experiences a miraculous change. In addition to tying teachers' hands behind their backs, the popular curriculum does not prepare students for the kind of work they will be expected to do in college.
Neither do we take into account the common view of education in Tennessee. People without children don't understand the need to pay taxes that will pay for schools and libraries, and even people with children don't understand why it is so vitally important that they be educated. Naysayers may come back with the fact that statistics show that the entrance test scores (like the ACT) of new classes at UT are going up, but standardized test scores don't mean much when you can randomly bubble in an entire section and still score well (I speak from personal experience).
Any change that happens will have to start at the bottom. We not only need to change the way we teach but also the negative attitude towards education that permeates our communities. We won't be seeing the huge changes politicians want from our overburdened education system any time soon.