UnifiEd launches its Pact for Public Education

Executive director Elizabeth Crews deputy executive director Lakweshia Ewing of UnifiEd speak about public education during a meeting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

UnifiEd is asking 10,000 people to show support for public education and work with them to ensure that every student in Hamilton County receives an excellent education.

Officials with the local nonprofit organization say it is involved in public education by getting the public involved, and it has spent the last year criss-crossing Hamilton County and surveying community members, teachers, parents and students. These conversations led UnifiEd to develop its Pact for Public Education, which provides a blueprint of reforms that the organization hopes to work on with the community.


To find out more about the Pact for Public Education, visit www.unifi-ed.org

"We listened to the community, finding out what they wanted their plan to be," said Elizabeth Crews, executive director of UnifiEd. " and these priorities were married with best practice research in public education to develop a list of four reforms."

The priorities of the pact are: ensuring high-performing teachers are in every classroom, guaranteeing equal opportunity for all students, increasing transparency and accountability, and prioritizing funding for public school.

Lakweshia Ewing, deputy director at UnifiEd, said recruiting and retaining great teachers should be a top priority in all Hamilton County schools.

"One of the things that we know is that having a great teacher, an excellent teacher, in front of every student is imperative," Ewing said. "This is not something new, it is something we've known."

Ewing said the district also needs to make more of an effort to recruit good teachers from excellent universities and support those teachers by offering the professional development and mentorship they are seeking.

Another focus of the pact is reducing the rate of concentrated poverty in schools across Hamilton County by 2020, and promoting partnerships between the school system, government agencies and other local organizations to provide support.

Crews said she also wants to see budgeting information from the school board and individual schools made more public, and the group is asking the district to have clear and updated short-term and long-term goals tied to student outcomes.

"We want to be sure that every dollar they have is being spent efficiently and in the most efficient way possible," Crews said. " And we would like for that plan to be tied to student outcomes."

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.