Lewis County Mayor Jonah Keltner has joined a growing coalition of Tennessee municipal and county mayors in support of the advancement of early education as a priority to address deficient reading and math scores for most third-grade students in Tennessee’s public schools.
Keltner joins more than 50 Tennessee mayors as part of Tennesseans for Quality Early Education (TQEE), a statewide, bipartisan advocacy organization.
“It is a fact of life that to attract good paying jobs to our area, we must have a skilled workforce,” said Lewis County Mayor Jonah Keltner. “What many people don’t think about is that building those workforce skills starts with development early in life through learning to read, solving math problems and learning how to get along with others.”
“We can and must do a better job of educating young Tennesseans in the critical early years of learning to set the stage for success in middle school, high school and beyond,” said TQEE Executive Director Mike Carpenter.
With a new governor and large turnover in the state legislature because of retirements, the Mayors’ Coalition wants to ensure that new policymakers continue current early education investments and expand programs and policies proving to be successful. The coalition believes the state has made significant progress in improving student outcomes, but that there is much more to do to elevate Tennessee’s citizens and communities.
“I strongly urge our next governor and legislature to continue to promote early literacy with proven efforts like Read 2 B Ready,” Mayor Keltner said. “I believe this program helps our young children to establish a firm foundation for their education journey. I believe we need to continue to improve the quality and expand pre-kindergarten programs across the state and support our teachers with quality training and coaching.”