Could Tennessee Lottery Funding Help Improve Teacher Diversity in the State?

Tennessee LotteryThe Tennessee State Board of Education has been agonizing over ways to improve diversity in teacher recruitment. Of course, that also means that there needs to be a more diverse pool of talent available; and as such, statewide groups have been working hard to encourage more people of differing backgrounds and cultures to pursue these jobs.

And now, the Tennessee State Board of Education is working towards a presentation—due in October—discussing how they can ensure better teacher preparation programs that will graduate teachers more prepared to work in the changing educational landscape. The plan, they say, will also require that colleges and universities can recognize the great need for more diversity. Thus, says Tennessee State Board of Education executive director Sara Heyburn.

In a half-day forum, on Monday, the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) said the hope for the program is that the work they are able to accomplish throughout the state can be more rapidly replicated in order to improve teacher diversity in The Volunteer State.

But, Tennessee has a bit of an ace up its sleeve in regards to education. The state lottery took in record profits over the past 12 months thanks to more than $1.6 billion in state lottery sales over this fiscal year which saw two winning Powerball tickets sold in the state.

This total marks, now, the 12th consecutive year of climbing lottery sales.

So why is this good for teacher diversity?

Because the state lottery’s contribution to educational programs improved by 13 percent since 2015, climbing to $394 million. While the lottery funding will go towards the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program(s), any money invested in education helps to improve the success of the overall education system as a whole. Indeed, Tennessee Higher Education Commission spokeswoman Kate Derrick says, “Additional funding resulting from lottery sales strengthens the future of Tennessee Promise and (other scholarship) programs so that we can ensure that new generations of Tennessee students will also be able to more easily and affordably access post-secondary education.”

Similarly, Tennessee lottery president and CEO Rebecca Hargrove notes that this funding was welcome news for both students and families alike, all of whom benefit from more than one million scholarships, grants, and dual enrollment awards given in the state of Tennessee thanks to the state lottery.

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