Ashland City Chief of Police Marc Coulon speaks to reporters about Common Core Wednesday morning. Photo by Nick Shepherd.
Police chiefs from across the state of Tennessee gathered at MeadowView Convention Center Wednesday and delivered a unified message: We support Common Core.
The police chiefs are in Kingsport this week for the annual meeting of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. The conference is held every year in different cities throughout the state. Last year’s conference was held in Murfreesboro.
According to a report released at the press conference titled, “Helping students succeed cuts crime,” only 24 percent of eighth graders in Tennessee are proficient in math, 27 percent are proficient in reading and 31 percent are proficient in science while 14 percent of Tennessee freshman do not graduate in four years.
Law enforcement officials have a few reasons for supporting the new common core standards. The biggest reason is to keep kids out of jail.
“We support Fight Crime: Invest in kids,” said Murfreesboro Police Chief, Glenn Chrisman. “When we have an educated population, number one: it makes society much more livable and number two: keeps people out of our prison system.”
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is a national, non-profit organization. The organization consists of more than 5,000 chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, attorneys general and violence survivors.
Common Core state standards are supposed to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn in English language arts and mathematics. The common core standards are expected to prepare students for higher education or for entry into the workforce. Tennessee was one of the 12 states that led the development of common core standards. Full implementation of common core standards for Tennessee is expected for the 2014-2015 school year.
All the police chiefs believe educating children leads to less crime later on.
“Tennessee students need an education that prepares them for the postsecondary education and the workforce so they will be less likely to turn to a life of crime,” said Johnson City Chief of Police, Mark Sirois.
The report stated more than 75 percent of jobs in the state require some form of post-secondary education. It is a trend that is expected to continue through 2018.
Sirois has seen that trend first-hand. He said on the applications for police officers in Johnson City, it says high school diploma or G.E.D., but he has noticed most of his officers have some form of post secondary education and more and more officers have college degrees.
The report also stated there is a connection between young men and women who do not finish high school and crime. In 2009, those under 25 with no high school diploma had 29 percent unemployment and earned almost $5,000 less than someone with a high school diploma.
The combination of poverty and unemployment can lead to a life of crime and time spent in jail. A national analysis showed that almost seven in 10 inmates did not graduate high school while less than three in 10 in the general population did not graduate, the report stated.
Not only do the TACP support common core to prevent crime, they also know some of those kids will become future police officers.
“Law enforcement not only has a vested interest in seeing more successful young people avoid involvement in crime, we also have a vested interest in having highly-educated young people to draw on for our future officers,” said Belle Meade Police Chief, Timothy Eads. “Tennessee’s common core can help produce the level of trained individuals we will increasingly need to protect the public.”