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FHS hosts talk on ‘Education Crossroads’
Debates causal relationship between education and economics

Several Farragut High School parents and teachers met Thursday, April 2, in Farragut High School’s library to hear The University of Tennessee economist Matthew Murray’s findings in his “Education Crossroads” report.

The report makes correlations between education levels and economic disparity in Tennessee.

“Education plays a critical role in the economic development process. But education also matters much more broadly than that in terms of the health of a community, in terms of the quality of life and the economic security for families; it goes well beyond simply the way in which the education of a population affects work force,” Murray said.

Murray has delivered his presentation numerous times in the last few months to various audiences.

“I have come to realize I am preaching to the choir,” he said.

“You folks are sitting here today and I am betting, to a person, you place a high value on education or you would not be here. It occurred to me what needs to be done is, we need to have facts and figures and context to share with what I call the non-believers.”

Murray said he believes the population of Tennessee, with regard to those who value education, can be divided into thirds.

“I think that we are the one-third in this room today that get it. We know how important education is.

“I think there is another one-third of the population that is reacheable. They will figure out, given the correct facts, figures and context, how important education is,” he said.

“There is another one-third that I don’t know — the guy wearing the blue shirt with Bubba on his nametag. I don’t know if we can reach Bubba, but certainly cannot give up.

“What this report is all about is trying to empower people — people like you — to be able to carry the word out,” he added.

Murray was quick to point out the report was put together in his “way of thinking.”

“All I give you is correlations between education and things good and lack of education and things bad. I will leave it up to you to decide whether education is a causal factor that affects economic outcomes, whether they be good or bad,” he added.

According to the report Tennessee received a grade of F in proficiency standards in public schools across the board. The only states coming close to Tennessee’s score were Mississippi and Missouri, each garnering an F apiece and several D’s.

“We lag the nation by most measures in investment and attainment,” he added.

“Tennessee’s per pupil K-12 spending is about 75 percent of the national average. But our per capita income is about 90 percent of the national average.

“We have simply chosen to spend less. That is why I wrote this,” he added.

Murray’s findings were that people with higher education levels not only had a higher level of income than their less educated counterparts, they, on average, live longer, have healthier lifestyles and are more likely to participate in the democratic process.

“Education is one of he key forces that affect prosperity,” he said.

He quoted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as saying “Tennessee earns a D in academic achievement.”

Murray added, “Tennessee businesses are not optimistic about their ability to find a qualified workforce in the future.

“If they do not think the workforce is going to be here, they will go somewhere else, and Tennessee loses more jobs,” he said.

“We have to make education a priority,” he added.

“Education Crossroads” can be viewed in its entirety at


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