SREB, which is headquartered in Atlanta, works closely on education issues within a 16-state region. Its principal focus is “... to improve student achievement at every level of public education,” Brooks explained.
Scheduled for later this month, the education forum is coming in a timely manner for the local legislator because of education-packed legislation that emerged from the recently completed 107th Session of the Tennessee General Assembly. Brooks was selected by the House speaker because of his diligence and personal interest in education issues within the state.
SREB’s work includes a wide range of education levels, from pre-K to post-secondary study. The coming legislative conference is being held in conjunction with SREB’s annual meeting.
At the conference, Brooks and fellow lawmakers from 15 other states “... will focus on raising high school and college graduation rates, the effectiveness of school principals, digital learning and other current issues.”
Brooks’ selection was confirmed in a recent letter from the House speaker.
“As Speaker of the House of Representatives, I am requesting you to represent our state as a delegate to the 60th annual SREB Legislative Work Conference,” Harwell wrote in her correspondence. “I am confident you will represent Tennessee with the highest standard of professionalism, dedication and integrity.”
Harwell pointed to the importance of the strategic SREB conference because its content is instrumental for legislative representatives to understand what other states are doing in public education, and how state lawmakers can be directly involved in improving all aspects of education at each level.
“This SREB conference has been called ‘America’s best education work session for legislation,” Harwell said.
Brooks will be attending fully loaded with information from the Volunteer State based on past actions by Tennessee legislators. In a precedent-setting session that wrapped up its work in near record time, the Legislature acted on a variety of education bills and will continue the effort when the next legislative session convenes in January.
Brooks worked closely with State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, representing the 22nd Legislative District, and State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville representing the 9th Senatorial District, on a variety of education-related legislation. Just a few of the issues included tenure reform, charter schools and collaborative conferencing.
The SREB conference will bring together a collection of leading authorities on education who will work closely with governors, state and education leaders, and legislators from other states within the Southern region. One of the group’s priorities will be to focus on raising high school and college graduation rates, as well as reviewing education-improvement progress and continued challenges of the present and future.
One part of the conference in particular will include Thomas J. Kane, deputy director for Research and Data at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who will join SREB President Dave Spence in leading a discussion on teacher effectiveness and evaluation.
“I am grateful to have been asked by Speaker Harwell to attend this important legislative conference,” Brooks said. “As a member of the House Education full and subcommittees, I see first-hand the importance of these interstate education discussions.”
The Cleveland legislator added, “Further, as the father of two locally educated teens, what happens in our local classrooms is discussed regularly at our family dinner table. This provides me with direct and often interesting feedback from our Education Committee work in Nashville.”
Brooks believes Tennessee legislators’ recent actions in the 107th General Assembly session are pointing the state in the right direction.
“With recent landmark education reforms, Tennessee is becoming a leader in our Southern region and I am honored to represent our great state at the request of Speaker Harwell,” Brooks said.
Created in 1948, the SREB was developed by Southern governors and state legislatures to help leaders in education and government to share experiences and ideas to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region.
SREB state members include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
Additional information about SREB can be found on the organization’s website at www.sreb.org.