(Lexington, Kentucky) —Tennessee State Senator Dolores Gresham (Somerville) was re-elected chair of the Education Committee of The Council of State Governments’ Southern office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC). Senator Gresham was first elected to serve as chair of the regional education committee last year during the organization’s annual meeting in Savannah, Georgia. The Education Committee is one of six SLC standing committees. As chair of the Committee, Senator Gresham will identify pressing issues for discussion at the conference and establish research priorities for the committee during the conference year. In addition to Senator Gresham, state Representative Tom Dickson of Georgia was elected vice chair of this prestigious SLC Committee.
As part of its mission to foster and encourage cooperation among its 15 member states, the SLC met in Lexington, Kentucky, for its 70th Annual Meeting, bringing together more than 1,200 delegates, legislative staff, and guests from across the South. During the SLC meeting in Lexington, the SLC Education Committee met twice for programs on three topics. Among the topics and speakers featured at this year’s committee sessions were:
• Effective Teacher Preparation Programs, featuring Rob Rickenbrode, Senior Director, Teacher Preparation Strategies, National Council on Teacher Quality; Ashley LiBetti Mitchel, Senior Analyst, Bellwether Education Partners; and Dr. Ann Larson, Chair, Advisory Council of State Representatives, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
• Student Success in Postsecondary Systems, with Tristan Denley, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Tennessee Board of Regents
• Update on the Every Student Succeeds Act, with William Knudsen, Education Policy Advisor, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Simone Hardeman-Jones, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs, U.S. Department of Education
Other programmatic highlights of the 70th Annual Meeting included a closing plenary featuring a Q&A with U.S national politics experts James Carville and Mary Matalin and a session focusing on Women in Leadership: How to Shape, Sustain and Succeed in a Changing Political Landscape, with former Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins.
Each annual meeting focuses, in part, on the innovative programs of the host state, and Kentucky’s continued successes in combatting substance abuse, improving public health, ensuring animal welfare, and the economic growth through the arts and equine industry were discussed at substantive committee sessions.
A valued tradition of SLC annual meetings, the SLC/Mark Norris Campaign Against Hunger, brought together over 300 volunteers to assemble 80,000 meals, to be distributed to families in Kentucky through Outreach, Inc. and God’s Pantry Food Bank.