Q: What is Chattanooga 2.0?
A: These two points summarize the plan:
1. A community-wide initiative to improve academic excellence and career credentials in Hamilton County;
2. An opportunity to improve the quality of life of all future graduates by connecting them to jobs that pay a living wage.
Q: I have heard about the challenges facing our public schools. Can you share more information on why 2.0 is necessary now?
A: We know we also need to keep our eye on the teaching and learning that is taking place -- and creating the opportunities to help all students succeed in the future – no matter where they live in our community.
These high level data points that are in the 2.0 report:
• There is an economic imperative with the current available jobs and projected job opportunities.
• Even though we have unprecedented job growth, 83 percent of jobs making a livable wage in Hamilton County require a postsecondary credential. Right now about 40 percent have a post-secondary credential
• The trend in our K-12 system shows some definite challenges. We are performing below the state average in 9 out of 10 academic areas, and the trend line is going in the wrong direction
• Access is an issue for certain student demographics. An African-American student is 33 times more likely to attend one of the lowest performing schools in the state within HCDE, while a white student has less than 1 percent chance of attending one of these schools.
• Only 43 percent of our 3-4 year olds are attending some form of an early childhood program. As a direct result, only 4 out of 10 students are considered on target for being ready to learn when they get to Kindergarten. National statistics show that even if students are living in poverty, 89 percent will graduate on time if they are reading on level by 3rd grade.
Q: How do I get involved?
• Become an endorser of the moment and the movement. Add your organization’s name to the list of 40 businesses that have already joined the effort. You are being asked to add your name to a long-term educational commitment in Hamilton County.
• Attend an upcoming community engagement event or one of the speaker series. That is why we need your contact information.
• Host a conversation within your organization and encourage five other endorsers to the effort.
• Create an organization liaison or committee that engages in the work of 2.0.
• Take the Chatt 2.0 survey to share your ideas about Hamilton County education and workforce readiness.
• Send us a story about how your business supports our schools. We update the blog every week with these stories as a reminder of the positive strides our community already takes.
• Foster conversation about education at your business or through a community meeting at your home. We encourage you to use the Causeway toolkit.
• Contact us to provide a Chattanooga 2.0 representative to speak at your business or organization.
Q: We have seen these efforts in the past. Why is 2.0 different?
A: It’s not an issue of geography or ability. It’s an issue of support and expectation. Some of our local data is sobering, but national statistics show that, of students in poverty who are on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, 90 percent will graduate on time.
• We know first-hand what can be done when a community comes together to lead.
• If we pass on this now, we will miss a moment in time to make a difference.
Q: Why will 2.0 make a difference?
A: A great city and an engaged community provide a quality education and a sustainable economic future for all residents. To achieve these goals, our community will come together on a commitment for the future. The jobs are here and more will come. Over 83 percent of the jobs will pay at least $35,000 per year and require education past high school.
Q: Tell me more about 2.0?
A: 2.0 is a group of education, business, and community leaders who joined together to release a report summarizing workforce challenges along with significant education opportunities for Hamilton County and the region. Led by the Benwood Foundation, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the Hamilton County Department of Education, and the Public Education Foundation (PEF), this joint effort was started to ensure local students are successful in school and prepared for meaningful careers, and to set forth on a plan to ensure that 75 percent of all Hamilton County high school graduates successfully obtain a college degree or technical certification by the year 2025.
Q: What are the questions to be answered over the next 100 days?
• Do we have the collective will and courage as a community to do whatever it takes to ensure that all residents are able to benefit from the growing economic opportunity?
• Is the school district prepared to respond with a bold and comprehensive plan of action to address the troubling trends highlighted in this report and elsewhere?
• How can businesses and our institutions of higher education partner with the district to help build stronger connections to college and career?
• How can we, as community leaders, organizations and residents, work together to ensure that every child comes to school ready to learn, and that students and families have the supports they need to achieve success?
Q: What will be happening over the next 100 days?
A: There are four INITIAL work groups being created that will spend the next 100 days working throughout the community to create bold strategies.
• Early Childhood, K-12, Postsecondary/Workforce, and the faith-based community.
• Community engagement opportunities will take place to get feedback to inform the work of the groups.
• The next 100 days are the start and not the end of achieving academic excellence for everyone in Hamilton County. Achieving sustainable change will require a long-term strategy and community commitment. This work will be generational, but we can also point to some short-term wins that show the community is willing to act now.
Q: Who are the principals behind 2.0?
A: The Benwood Foundation, Public Education Foundation, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and the Hamilton County Department of Education came together in 2015 to gauge the interest in and support for a comprehensive, long-term approach to achieving academic excellence for all students in Hamilton County and to provide an educated workforce to fill the growing job opportunities in our region. Jared Bigham, an elementary and high school teacher and principal in Southeast Tennessee and a statewide advocate for public education, is the Coordinator of 2.0.
Q: I heard you have a 2025 goal. What is it?
A: The goal by 2025 is for 75 percent of our adults to attain a post-secondary credential to prepare them for the jobs ahead. We are not just talking about PhDs and BAs. We are talking about HVAC certification, radiology, information technology and other technical credentials. We are talking about the skills for businesses and our local economy and how it impacts individuals and families in our community.
Q: What are the goals of 2.0?
A: The 2.0 report ended with community questions to discuss and not a set of solutions to immediately implement. 2.0 set six focus areas for long-term impact: school readiness, third grade foundations, school success, post-secondary readiness, post-secondary completion and workforce ready.
Q: Are there activities underway that point toward success?
• There are great teaching and leadership in many schools: For example, the STEM school is recognized across the state for its innovative practices; East Side Elementary has been a Reward School two years in a row despite the demographics changing to majority English Language Learning students.
• Chattanooga State is playing an active role in helping students get industry certifications during high school; the MEP program and Mayor Coppinger’s Pathways to Prosperity program are examples of industry and postsecondary working together.
• UTC first-year retention rates and overall graduation rates are increasing, with significant increases among African-American students.
• Mayor Berke and the city, Mayor Coppinger and the county, as well as BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, are champions for a new internship program, Step-Up Chattanooga, created by PEF and the Chamber of Commerce that will place 100 juniors and seniors in paid workforce positions this summer.
• The Urban League has been convening the faith-based community to discuss ways our congregations can support students, especially in the area of early childhood.
Q: There have to be some objectives. What are they?
A: Community conversations will be underway aimed at best ways to achieve academic excellence. Your participation will help craft strategies for:
• Longer-term, sustainable community engagement
• Clear, concise and impactful steps to improve academic success for all students
• Improved teacher recruitment, training and hiring
• Skilled local workforce to fill living wage jobs
Q: Why 100 days? That seems like a short period of time for the changes that you want to make.
A: The first 100 days brings our community together to identify measurable action steps to build academic success for all students in Hamilton County. We are creating a sustainable movement with a clear message and bold stretch goals. As a community, we will make a generational difference.
Q: How do I receive more information?
A: Sign up on our website to receive the full Chattanooga 2.0 report and updates. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.