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Tennessee Commissioner of Education to speak at Carson-Newman University

Dr. Candice McQueen

(April 16, 2015) — Tennessee’s newly appointed Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen will speak at Carson-Newman University Monday, April 27 at 9 a.m. in Thomas Recital Hall.

Topics will likely include Tennessee Academic Standards (elsewhere known as Common Core), concerns about teacher evaluation and the performance of Tennessee P-12 students on measures of academic achievement.

Carson-Newman Education Department Chair Kim Hawkins says keeping up with educational standards is vital for education students, especially in a continually changing landscape.

“We as a university are committed to providing the best-prepared teachers we can provide to go out and teach these children who are learning under the Common Core Standards,” Dr. Hawkins says. “The way in which [our students] were taught is very different from how students are being taught now.”

Dr. McQueen’s visit is important to more than just students. Professor and organizer of the event Dr. Sharon Teets says Carson-Newman’s faculty and the surrounding community need to understand issues in education as well.

“Dr. McQueen might help our faculty see how the adoption of the Common Core Standards (or the Tennessee Academic Standards as they are now called) impacts the quality of the students who choose Carson-Newman as their college experience,” Teets says. “In addition, her visit will help the community see the need for collaborative efforts for preparing teachers of students in P-12 schools.”

Tennessee leads the nation in academic improvement with rapidly rising test scores according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Hawkins says this visit will help students gain an understanding of education in Tennessee, and the potential they have to help determine the direction of education in the state.

“Having these students see a commissioner of education will help them understand that there is a way for them to get engaged and start making an impact at the local level, at the state level, and potentially at the national level,” Hawkins says. “It’s really an issue of civic engagement. Trying to get them to see that this is their role—they’re not just going into their class and closing their door and teaching their kids—they have a responsibility to be engaged in the political process by which these standards are set.”

McQueen kicked off a 10,000 Teacher Tour in February, aiming to learn from teachers across Tennessee and celebrate achievements in the classroom.

Hawkins says it’s important for the Carson-Newman community to come to this event to show McQueen the University is invested in educational issues, and also to see that she’s not simply a figurehead.

“I know a lot of times when I was in college and read this title ‘commissioner of education,’ I had a hard time realizing that is a real person,” Hawkins says. “Dr. McQueen is a real person and she’s a great role-model for these kids. She has been a classroom teacher, an extremely successful grant-writer and a mom. She is also a very effective negotiator and has made a lot of progress in getting her message out.”

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served in the lobby of the Tarr Music Building starting at 8:15 a.m.

Carson-Newman’s Thomas Recital Hall is located in the Tarr Music Building along Russell Avenue in Jefferson City.

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