Under the leadership of House Republicans, Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the entire nation across math, reading, and science. Last year, our state also posted the highest graduation rate ever — 89.1 percent.
While evidence suggests that we are moving in the right direction as it relates to improving our state’s education system, there is more work to be done. This is especially true when it comes to protecting our children during school hours.
Recent, violent events involving innocent school children in both Kentucky and Florida have served as a reminder to all of us that we live in a very different world than when we were children.
Two weeks ago, Governor Haslam announced that he is allocating an additional $30 million as part of his Fiscal Year 2019 budget in order to address and identify risks and improve overall student safety in academic institutions across our state.
These monies will fund solutions created by the Governor’s School Safety Working Group. Last week, this group of lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and stakeholders released their official recommendations after three weeks of meetings — zeroing in on three immediate priorities.
The first is a review and assessment of all school facilities in an effort to identify vulnerabilities. This will help determine the most appropriate use of resources in order to address them.
Additionally, the group has recommended funding for more school resource officers with an initial focus on schools with less capacity to fund them through local resources.
The final immediate priority is to develop or secure a statewide technology application for the anonymous reporting of threats and critical concerns. Other recommendations focus on training and drills, as well as promoting positive behavioral health for all students.
Even if we are able to implement all of these ideas, we still may not be able to completely prevent future incidents from occurring. I believe it is imperative that we also remember the importance of faith in our daily lives. We can do this by looking inwardly at the condition of our own hearts and get back to loving our neighbors as ourselves.
What we are witnessing in communities across our nation today is a moral shift within society, and we must reverse this in order to finally put an end to these senseless tragedies once and for all. I want you to know that I am committed to protecting our students, our teachers, and our school staff members, and I look forward to the work ahead of us as a legislative body.
Ron Gant serves as Assistant Majority Floor Leader. He is also a member of the House Health Committee and the House Calendar and Rules Committee, as well as the House Insurance & Banking Sub and Full Committees. Gant lives in Rossville and represents House District 94, which includes Fayette, McNairy, and part of Hardeman County. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by calling (615) 741-6890.