TSS Statement on Governor Lee’s Calling for Special Legislative Session on Education
December 29, 2020
NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success today released the following statement after Governor Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) announced his intention to convene the Tennessee General Assembly for a special legislative session to address critical issues facing public education.
With only 34.9 percent of students meeting expectations in ELA across grade levels, we must address literacy head-on with comprehensive legislation that provides students with the necessary instruction and high-quality material to improve student success.
“Tennessee’s literacy rates are at crisis-level lows with only 34.9 percent of students reading on grade level. The life-long challenges created through reading gaps disproportionately impact Tennessee’s most marginalized students. We need a bold and urgent response to these issues if we are to chart a new path to success for hundreds of thousands of students,” said TSS President & CEO Adam Lister. “Adding to the already desperate and critical need for intervention, a global pandemic deepened the discrepancy in literacy rates and further accentuated tragic learning inequities for low-income students and students of color. We are Tennesseans; we have a history of taking bold steps in confronting challenges. We appreciate Governor Lee’s leadership and applaud his taking action to elevate and prioritize these issues through a special session. We look forward to working with the Tennessee General Assembly and Governor Lee to create and adopt bold solutions to improve student learning and success.”
Austin McMullen is a practicing attorney and partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. His work is primarily in the area of commercial finance and he is certified as a specialist in creditors’ rights law. Austin graduated from the Vanderbilt University School of Law, and earned his undergraduate education at Millsaps College. He is married and have two school-aged children. Austin enjoys working with children, so he teaches the 6th grade confirmation class at First Presbyterian Church, is a TSSAA football official, and coaches girls basketball.
Why I joined the board: With two school-age children attending Tennessee public schools, maximizing the opportunities for student success has been personal for me and my family. I know that academic support and high expectations are of the greatest importance for motivating children and spurring them on to achieve their dreams. I’ve seen that in my own children. Great schools are also important for the success of Tennessee families and the economic development of our State. I joined Tennesseans for Student Success and worked tirelessly because I believe that more educational opportunities and success will help all Tennesseans – students, parents, families, communities, and ultimately, our entire State.
Kurt Faires is a corporate attorney in Chattanooga. Prior to law, he had a career in the business sector including stints as a manufacturing company owner, investment banking for privately-held companies, and turnaround consulting. He is a product of public K-12 education in Indiana and is motivated to help provide a more level educational playing field for Tennessee students, particularly in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. Kurt is married to Judge Christie Sell Faires. In their free time, they enjoy spending time with their four children, politics, exercise, the outdoors, and being near the water.
Harry L. Allen is the Co-founder, Executive Vice President and Chief Relationship Officer of Studio Bank. Studio Bank launched in July 2018 to become the first new, “de novo”, locally-headquartered bank in Nashville since 2008. Studio Bank is one of Nashville’s fastest growing companies, employing over 50 and with total assets of over $350 million. As co-founder, Mr. Allen was integral in the formation of the bank including recruiting members of the team, board of directors, completing the necessary regulatory applications and helping raise over $50 million in start-up capital. He serves as the Bank’s lead business development officer, key point of contact for stakeholders and strategic partners, such as the bank’s Founders’ Advisory Board, and manages the Bank’s involvement and investment in community efforts.
A native of Nashville, Mr. Allen is active in the Nashville Community serving on the board of directors for the Center for Nonprofit Management and is a Trustee of Belmont University. He is also the Immediate Past-President of the Rotary Club of Nashville, the world’s third-largest Rotary Club, and a graduate of the 2018-2019 Leadership Nashville Class. He has been listed as a 2014 Nashville Top 40 Under 40, 2018, 2019 and 2020 Power Leader in Finance, and 2019 Nashville Power 100 by the Nashville Business Journal.
Mr. Allen has dedicated most of his volunteer service to improving public education. He has served as founding board chair of Purpose Preparatory Academy, served as co-Chair of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Education Report Card Committee, and as a member of Mayor David Briley’s “Education Kitchen Cabinet”. In 2018, Mr. Allen was inducted into the Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame by the Nashville Public Education Foundation and was honored with Belmont’s Massey Graduate School of Business Distinguished Graduate Award.
Krissy DeAlejandro is the Executive Director of tnAchieves, a Knoxville-based nonprofit dedicated to increasing higher education opportunities for high school students in Tennessee by providing last-dollar scholarships and mentoring services.
A Tennessee native, she is the first in her family to attend college. Her work with tnAchieves has allowed her to be able to share her experience with students as they embark into higher education.
Krissy received her Bachelor’s degree from The University of the South and her Master’s degree from the University of Tennessee.
In her free time, Krissy enjoys eating foods prepared by her chef and restauranteur husband, and spending time with him and their three children.