Gov. Phil Bredesen announced Friday the creation of a new public education partnership with a leading science and technology research firm, a move he said should help the state’s candidacy in landing federal “Race to the Top” funds.
Under the agreement, Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle is set to work with the state Department of Education to establish a statewide network of programs designed to promote educational advancements in science, technology, engineering and math, a set of fields educators coin STEM Learning.
Battelle, which operates as a nonprofit organization, is perhaps best known in Tennessee for co-managing Oak Ridge National Laboratory alongside the University of Tennessee. The venture’s collaboration with Tennessee’s public schools is modeled off a similar program in Ohio.
“The state is proud to join forces with a world-class partner like Battelle to make STEM Learning a priority for Tennessee,” Bredesen said. “This partnership will be a key focus in Tennessee’s ‘Race to the Top’ proposal, which we’re submitting to the federal government next month.”
“Race to the Top” dollars are made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which requires U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan distribute financial resources to states, likely between six and eight, that show a commitment to education reform. Up to $400 million is believed to be available for each state.
Under the program, federal officials are to award states that show innovation in teacher effectiveness, school turnaround, data systems and standardized assessments.
States have until Jan. 19 to turn in a proposal to the federal government that outlines how dollars would be used. Officials are expected to select winning states by April. Bredesen said he expects all 50 states to apply.
“I think the STEM initiative sort of helps to fill in, strengthen one of the areas on our application,” he said. “If we’re successful in ‘Race to the Top,’ and I think we will be, we’ll see tens of millions of additional dollars flowing into STEM Learning activities in Tennessee over the next few years,” Bredesen said.